Warning: Spoilers Ahead, If You Haven’t Seen The Movie Please Read This Afterwards!
It’s easy to be a prisoner of the moment but I want to say off top that I went to see Black Panther on yesterday and it’s the greatest Marvel movie ever made. Even moreso, I believe that it’s the best superhero movie ever made without discussion or debate. Being in that movie theater, accompanied by my friend and movie date Karizmah Wall, was almost like an out of body experience. It almost felt as if I was watching it in 3D. Everyone in the theater had a roundtrip to Wakanda that they wished was a one-way ticket because it was black folks heaven.
Seriously, the movie was just that good! I learned about the creation of the movie after seeing Captain America: Civil War back in 2016. Black Panther had a two year build-up, with us knowing that the movie was dropping February 16, 2018 a whole year ago. We saw the different actors such as Lupita Nyong’o, the legendary Angela Bassett and the young star Michael B. Jordan join the cast and immediately started clamoring over the black excellence that we’d witness. I heard people discussing the importance of this movie, saying that it would start a renaissance of black superhero movies being greenlit by production companies. Many people said that it would be the most important movie ever made because of its impact. Many said that it would indeed be the best superhero movie ever made.
It’s safe to say that Black Panther exceeded my every expectation two times over! The impact that the Ryan Coogler directed Marvel thriller made on the culture was visibly seen. Scroll down your Facebook and Instagram timelines and you’ll witnessed grown adults dressing up like they’re extras in the movie. Sporting Dashiki’s, black panther masks and head scarfs, Black Panther had everyone proudly repping our African heritage. I could’ve sworn I saw some white people rocking some dashikis, especially after the movie ended!
Let’s get into the movie itself. It was truly a visual masterpiece. From the angles and lighting, to set, costume design and all the beautiful black people you saw throughout the movie, Black Panther was filmmaker goals. I found myself engulfed in understanding the story that the Coogler was trying to tell through the cinematography. The movie started with a discussion of the tale of how the Black Panther wasn’t one person, but a Wakandan royal tradition passed down from generation to generation of kings. Whoever inherited the throne had access to the powers of the Black Panther.
The movie then shifts to Oakland in 1992 looking like a deleted scene from Straight Outta Compton, ironically the last time I’d gotten a chance to go to the movies. You saw two guys hiding weapons and acting all jumpy when, come to find out, they’re both Wakandan spies. Prince N’Jobu (Michael B. Jordan’s character Killmonger’s father) aspired to share Wakandan technology with African people around the world to help combat their oppressors. He hires arms dealer Ulysses Klaue to steal the vibranium from Wakanda to make his aspirations a reality.
T’Challa’s father T’Chaka, who was then the king and Black Panther, thwarted N’Jobu’s plans thanks to another spy that was spying on N’Jobu. T’Chaka kills N’Jobu after he tries to kill spy Zuri (who we then find out is Forrest Whitiker as the movie progressed), a major plot point in the movie. Killmonger was a child in Oakland when this occurred. Later on in the movie, he finds his father dead with Black Panther claws in his chest. He’s devastated, causing him to become a ruthless killer and continuing the “radical” philosophy of his father to arm African people around the world with Wakandan weapons.
I’m glad Chadwick Boseman is finally getting the roles that he deserves. It seems as if he was born to play Black Panther. I love how the movie wasn’t a traditional superhero flick, as we saw many times where T’Challa fought enemies without the power of the Black Panther. The implied notion was that if your king can’t win a fight using his own physical mastery, how can he truly protect you?
Seeing Lupita on the big screen again was a blessing in itself. She’s so beautiful! Even though I’ve never seen 12 Years A Slave (and I never will), I fell in love with her when I first saw the trailers for that movie back when I was in high school. She’s a dark chocolate natural woman, perfect in my eyes. Plus, she is an amazing actor. She had a few scenes with Angela Bassett and was truly holding her own.
I must say that Forest Whitaker is the only actor that sort of fit in to the movie. I thought he was a CGI creation at first! All joking aside, Forest was a great addition to the cast. It took me seeing the flashback to realize that he was Zuri and that the 1992 version of Zuri had a lazy eye. They really went for it as far as casting because even Chadwick Boseman favored John Kani, the man that played T’Chaka.
Michael B. Jordan deserves an Oscar for his role as Killmonger because he stole the show in every scene he was in. It was hard to even view Killmonger as a villain as his actions were innately evil but his purpose was only to fight against the oppressors that he felt were an impediment to black progress. He was the total opposite of T’Challa, as he was a merciful king. T’Challa had the opportunity to kill Klaue, the man responsible for the death of T’Chaka, and didn’t do it. Meanwhile, Killmonger killed him without any effort at all.
Between T’Challa and Killmonger, I saw the same battle of philosophies that you see displayed in the X-Men movies between Professor X and Magneto. Both parallel the philosophical debate of if the non-violent mindset of Dr. Martin Luther King or the by any means necessary model popularized by Malcolm X was right for the advancement of black people. The movie went out of its way to detail that Killmonger’s grievances weren’t wrong but he was too much of an extremist in his beliefs.
One angle that I thought was amazing was a few minutes after Killmonger supposedly kills T’Challa and becomes the new king of Wakanda. As Killmonger walked in the room where the dignitaries of Wakanda meet you saw the camera upside down and then slowly make its way to it’s normal orientation as Killmonger turned to take his seat. To me I saw that angle telling the visual story that Wakanda has been turned upside down by the arrival of Killmonger and his successful siege of the crown.
I could go on-and-on about how brilliant this movie is but I don’t want to give any more spoilers. If you haven’t seen this movie, do yourselves a favor and go see it 5 times in honor of black history month! If you have seen it, go out and see it again! We needed this. If anything, it should give us motivation. We should tell more of our own stories and create our own heroes. I know that as a writer and aspiring filmmaker, I was inspired to work my way up and one day get my media up to the level of black excellence that I saw from Black Panther!
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