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.
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
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:
- His mother, Ramonda (Angela Bassett)
- His sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright)
- His elite guard, Okoye (Danai Gurira)
- 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.
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.
“Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, because they knew death was better than bondage.” ~ Erik Killmonger
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.