Black Panther

After the assassination of his father, Prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to the most reclusive, technologically advanced nation in the world to serve as his country’s new king.  On short notice, T’Challa soon finds that he is challenged for the throne from tribes within his own country.  When a powerful foe (Michael B. Jordan) conspires to exploit Wakanda, the hero known as Black Panther must prevent his nation from being dragged into global warfare.

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I’m doing this handshake.

Story, Acting

We start off with a young Wakandan prince who has to juggle the death of his father, a king, and the responsibility of taking the throne in his place.  Without engaging in massive spoilers, I say that storywise, the movie was well written.  Every actor brought their A-Game.

[ ( Possible Spoilers Ahead ) ]

Critical Analysis of Black Women

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Aside from the sagacious mother, all Wakandan women fight.  Okoye was undeniably impressive, Danai Gurira owned this! Give her more roles!

Anyone noticing black women in this movie will be pleased; King T’Challa has an immensely healthy relationship with no less than four black women on screen:

  1. His mother, Ramonda (Angela Bassett)
  2. His sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright)
  3. His elite guard, Okoye (Danai Gurira)
  4. His love, Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o)

This movie, Black Panther, has a great representation of black women on screen.  Typically, a woman in cinema are folks who have something done TO them, versus them actually facilitating the main protagonist in a meaningful manner.  Also in movie tradition, there’s only one female character who is a great focus of the movie.

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Shuri, is a Disney Princess. Think about that one.

This movie boasts balancing four such characters, and that’s pretty revolutionary in itself.

The four women in T’Challa’s life fulfill diverse needs; his mother nurtures and has wisdom that comes with age.

His sister, Shuri, is a hyper intelligent omnidisciplinary scientist, who is technically a better inventor than Tony Stark (Iron Man).

The commander of his elite guard is clearly the illest ride-or-die chick since Cleo Sims was brought to life by Queen Latifah in 1996 (Set It Off).  Okoye represents loyalty, fight, and tactical expertise.

Nakia, last but not least, is his love.  She holds his heart, and she’s not without skills of her own.  As a spy for Wakanda, she’s technically a Wakandan Black Widow.

I really don’t see how a person can argue with this point; the representation of black women here is, in regards to American cinema, a revolutionary act.

Each of these women owned their roles.  I’m particularly impressed with Shuri and Okoye.  You see, Angela Bassett is a woman who needs no introduction, and we are all familiar with Lupita.  These new women were the sight to behold.

Erik Killmonger

“Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, because they knew death was better than bondage.” ~ Erik Killmonger

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Erik Killmonger is played masterfully by Michael B. Jordan, and what can be said about this man that hasn’t been said about Hawaiian sunsets?  Michael B. Jordan is simply one of the best things to happen in America right now.  Michael B. Jordan is without question, the coolest motherfucker on the planet.  And when I say “motherfucker” I say this with the confidence that any mother watching him is secretly fucking this guy in their minds.

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A challenge to the throne.

Every moment Michael B. Jordan is on screen, he brings this raw swagger that is undisputedly Afro-American, and its stark contrast to Chadwick Boseman’s regal African monarch is particularly striking.  His character is a murderous sociopath but also inherently seductive.  Erik’s goals are motivated by being a member of African Diaspora living with the abandonment by African powers.

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When racism happens to Chinese people in America, the nation of China has a claim.  When racism happens to Jews, Israel has a claim.  When racism happens to Australians even, the government of Australia has a claim.

Much racism happens to Afro-Americans. Why don’t any African nations claims us?  Seek to hold America responsible?  Let America know that white supremacy is a worldwide embarrassment?  Are African nations saying this?  Are they claiming us?  Are they being silenced?  The point is, we do feel abandoned by a whole continent when we think about it, and to be frank, we have never seen this explored through a major motion picture before.  This concept, this concern, needs to be explored.  We need to have this conversation.

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Nat Turner meets Marcus Garvey?

Being that these are questions which I hold within myself, Erik Killmonger was in a way, my avatar for the film.  Erik Killmonger almost left me wondering who’s the real villain here, and if an antagonist can make you second guess the hero, that’s a damn good antagonist.  Erik Killmonger also exhibits a concept I wrote about before concerning black Civil Rights heroes — The Magneto Complex.

There was a time when I was a person who didn’t want to see my favorite actors as bad guys.  I now recognize the fact that the antagonists in film have more space to be full of depth.  I love seeing my favorite actors as bad guys now.  And of course, the world can most certainly use more magnificent black villains.

“Hey Auntie.” ~ Erik Killmonger

I have reason to believe that Erik Killmonger’s character on screen is fantastic due to Ryan Coogler’s relationship with Michael B. Jordan, (yes, you say his whole name), on top of, well, being a black director.  A black director seems to allow black folks to be, well, black.  Everything about Erik Killmonger’s disposition is authentically black, and ultimately we have Ryan Coogler to thank for that.  Thanks Ryan.

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Unless you’re Ben Carson, David Clarke or any of the tanooki suited black folk spoken of in this link here, you as a black person will totally understand Erik Killmonger.  You might not agree with his methods, but his motivations are incredibly valid.

I figure white watchers of this movie, will not.  White viewers may even give this movie counterfeit reviews because of the fact that this movie questions colonialism, speaks on race relations, including jabs at the Trump Administration, speaks of building bridges, not walls.

White observers of this movie (including whites who haven’t even seen it) will most likely attempt to appropriate it, imagine T’Challa as Trump or something.  It doesn’t make sense, but hey, we’re dealing with white fragility here.

Other things I’ve noticed

There are many more things to find in this movie when it comes to being a metaphor for systemic racism and sexism in our American society:

  • This movie seems to be a dialogue between Afro-Americans and on-continent Africans, which raises a lot of emotions concerning a discussion that, after hundreds of years, haven’t been had yet. Why don’t you claim us (Afro-Diaspora)?
  • T’Challa is a King.  He has a fantastic relationship with no less than four black women.  Where are the black women in your life?  Do you have a healthy relationship with black women? A black king requires a healthy relationship with four: Mother, sister, friend, and love.
  • Shuri, T’Challa’s sister, is a Disney Princess.  I’m just going to let that sit there on your forehead, because she’s clearly the best Disney Princess to ever grace the silver screen, which is worth a whole other article.
  • If T’Challa had the ability to save a life concerning spinal injuries, why couldn’t he aid James Rhodes — War Machine — when he suffered his spinal injury in “Captain America: Civil War”?  He chose to aid in the health of two white men (CIA agent, Winter Soldier) but couldn’t help a brother out?  Erik Killmonger is more correct than I thought.
  • Erik Killmonger was right.  He was right like a motherfucker.  Eric Killmonger won, if you really think about it (requires seeing the movie).
  • Erik Killmonger = Nat Turner; T’Challa = Marcus Garvey.
  • The closest thing to a white protagonist in the movie (CIA Agent Everett K. Ross) didn’t take up much cinematic space, wasn’t centered on, which is how it should be.  This white CIA ‘colonizer’ did however, shoot a tech supply out of the air that was intended for a pan-African revolution.  Yikes.
  • Andy Serkis as The Claw, was a show stealer.  He was clearly having too much fun on this movie, nearly stealing the scene each time he was on screen.
  • M’Baku’s character is known as Man-Ape in the comics.  M’Baku wasn’t called Man-Ape in the movie, which was a ridiculous name in the first place.  Man-Ape is a Black Panther antagonist created by two white guys, Roy Thomas and John Buscema in 1969.  Thank God for Ryan Coogler, a black director. Winston Duke as M’Baku, was a show-stealing ensemble dark horse.
  • M’Baku, also had a moment where he told the white guy (CIA Agent) that he will not speak here (in his den).  A black man in charge practically told a white assassin he is not in charge, and will not take up black-space.  Amazing stuff.
  • Numerous black men in power positions. Numerous black women, equally as powerful.
  • Okoye has a moment where she resents wearing a wig (possible symbol of colonization, white supremacy) in a event at a Korean night club.  Watch her viciously throw the wig into a white man’s face moments later, as if she’s rejecting colonization, assimilation to white supremacist influences, etc.  Badass symbolism from a badass black woman.
  • Shuri has a moment where she calls the CIA operator, ‘colonizer’.  There are numerous woke-as-fuck lines in this movie, and I highly doubt they’d exist under a white (or nonblack) director.  Thank you Ryan Coogler.
  • Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) once again graces the silver screen, in February, in a very much woke black movie.  Bruh, let’s see what you got for February 2019 and beyond.
  • This is the third movie with the Dynamic Trio of Ryan Coogler (directing), Michael B. Jordan (acting) and Ludwig Göransson (musical score).  Being that Ryan likes to stick to his guns, I’m wondering if he’s bound to add other Black Panther actors to his phone book.
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Okoye throws the wig back at the colonizer.

For those who are wondering, should you see this movie?

I don’t know where to begin.  This movie was phenomenal.  Yes you should see this movie.  As far as I’m tracking, this is the first Afro-Futuristic, Afro-punk movie ever made by way of American cinema.  The color design of the movie can rival the vividness of Guardian of the Galaxy 2’s Planet Ego.  The color design of the movie is so blatantly Afro-centric, vibrant, and full of range; from bright red hues for the Wakandan elite guard, to the fluorescent blues and violets of the comic-book-legendary heart-shaped herbs, Black Panther suit and various other forms of Wakandan technology.

The sound score was amazing; I knew Ryan Coogler would bring his sound score composer buddy with him, the Swedish born Ludwig Göransson, and he always brings his best.

“This is my first superhero film and the first time I worked with traditional african music. During this experience, I became a better musician from doing this project.” ~ Ludwig Göransson

Of course, if you are not entertained by sound and visuals, you know — don’t like movies — then don’t go seeing movies.  If you are a movie lover, you’re going to love this movie.

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Lupita.

Clearly, white folks are not going to get the same experience from this movie black people will get.

To the white audience, this is a damn good superhero movie, parallel to perhaps Wonder Woman’s movie in 2017.  To the black audience, this is a cinematic revolution, because it’s a common thing behind Hollywood doors to not exactly go for all-black casts, because due to racism in America, white people simply don’t see themselves through black people and Hollywood executives (who are almost always white) know this.  This movie is bound to change that.

I always wondered why don’t we as American have more all-black movies, similar to how Hong Kong cinema has a majority Asian casting.  What exactly is America afraid of?  Everyone loves black music, why not black cinema?  All it takes is a massive movie studio to take a gamble with a black director.  This just might be it.  Jordan Peele gave us Get Out in February 2017, which was a racial horror flick.  Ryan Coogler gave us Black Panther in 2018.  And radically different movie, branched off of a very familiar concept; what black people are thinking.

Go see this movie and enjoy yourself.

Written by Johnny Silvercloud

The Soul Brother #1 of a Kind. Consequentialist street photographer abolitionist writer/speaker who stands for any oppressed peoples. I do it because every man and woman deserves freedom of thought -- especially black folks.

21 comments

  1. This was such a well thought out piece. It pretty much said everything that I was feeling about the movie. Such a great movie all around and confronted issues that we don’t really talk about. As always your articles make me think and inspires creativity. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fascinating review. I thought it was interesting how you brought up the cultural aspects that only a black director would be able to notice and put nuance to it. I do think it’s awesome that there’s a black superhero as a main character instead of just a sidekick like Falcon or War Machine. However, I do have some concerns about the film and how this could affect mainstream movies going forward. Having a black director is a huge plus as for having a black majority cast, but the profits would still go to the white owned companies of Marvel and Disney. The later certainly has a history of racist crap in their movies, and I fear it could just be another way of co-opting, exploiting, or maybe providing lip service to POCs. I liked how you brought up some defensible reasons for watching this film, but that was one lingering thought I had.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If we were to refuse everything because our money is going into white pockets, there goes the water supply, sewage running, electricity, etc.

      So are much of the clothes on our backs, shoes on our feet, etc. Why even drive a car? White pockets, right?

      White pockets CANNOT be the argument against seeing this movie, because I’d bet there’s TV shows, Netflix, movies, music, etc., that goes to white pockets regardless, on top of basic infrastructure. Sometimes, you gotta accept the battle is won while the war goes on.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s true and I wasn’t insinuating that it shouldn’t be seen just because of that reason. I apologize for not making myself clear earlier.

        I’m certainly not against putting money in white pockets on principle. You do have a great argument on this being a cinematic revolution for black people which I cannot refute. It certainly wouldn’t be an easy battle or war given how poorly minorities in general have been portrayed for over a century now. Some businesses are totally worth supporting regardless of who’s skin color it matches. Conversely, if there’s a bad company that is discriminating against others, then people should unify and boycott if there’s a legit reason. Like you, I do want to see minorities represented as well as their Caucasian counterparts. The Alt-right outrage against this film is laughable at best (I’ve seen some of the memes and comments), and that’s their problem.

        It would be great if there were more studios owned by POCs instead of what’s going on in Nollywood or someone like Steve McQueen (the Black British director), Raoul Peck, or some random indie director like Lanre Olabisi to do everything.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sure thing. There’s only a few and many of them are much smaller. It would be cool if Coogler and others do that.

        Of course. I guess things could work in time.

        Like

      3. There are so many people getting the benefit off this film. I have got so much value that can’t be commoditised.
        The value of thought and knowledge being shared. I’ve added a couple of blog posts myself on Black Panther. Do take a look. Keep the discuss going…but I need insight…not just opinion.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your writing. I loved the women in this film. The General, Okoye, is so powerful and yet controlled, in charge and positive and complete in her responsibility. So much so she would kill her love for her country, and he understood and respected that. 🖤🖤🖤 Shuri and her brilliance was inspiring. As if her genius was as it should be and not out of the norm. But you are right about Killmonger. And it was a brilliant way to bring it about. I didn’t realize until deep into the movie that I was represented by him. We are the outsiders and that changed the way I viewed his fight. Brilliant movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very interesting and as you stated worth every bit of our time to sit and “have the conversation”. This movie graced me for more than a few reasons. One being that Chad Boseman and I were raised in the same city. As a matter of fact, his mother and I attend Women’s bible study together and his nephew is my husband’s best friend and my son’s basketball coach so to see someone so close to home represent a movie LIKE THIS is very sentimental to me. Yes, Chad is just the actor but the movie and plot in itself is what has put some ‘fire in my tail” to say the least to speak up a little more on these things. To ask the hard questions like “Why aren’t they backing us up?” ‘Why aren’t they “claiming” us. Very interesting topic. I’d love to follow up with you on this discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, you did it again Johnny. Your review was, well, let’s just say in a word – brilliant!

    As always, you seem to reach depths and heights of thoughtfulness, that many of us only wish we could reach. I so admire your work, I can only wish I could break the peripheral of your insightfulness.

    I didn’t (just) love your review of the movie because it reflected my perspective, rather, it was because of a more titillating feeling I got from the way you dissected the characters, their roles and how the combination of their respective attributes caused – or should cause – one to beam with pride as we take this (imaginary) journey to a place we love to visit and to something we all would love to be a part of.

    Finally, your commentary on “For those who are wondering, should you see this movie?”, is a very proponed response to any critic, or to anyone whose attempt may be to be too critical of the movie – for whatever reason. Further, your review speaks to why [anyone] would enjoy this movie, regardless of ethnicity or loyalties to any of the prior super hero characters.

    It is a wonderful movie and your review is well worth the read.

    Like

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