Wakanda Forever: Thoughts on Black Panther

Four times… and counting. That’s how many times I’ve seen Black Panther and honestly, Marvel can continue to take my money until it’s no longer in theaters.

This. Movie. is simply everything. I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything quite like it. As someone who aspires to write for the screen and work in film, I feel like this movie has changed the game has began an era of clearing the path for folks like me who have new ideas and new stories.

What Black Panther has assured us of is that black does indeed translate internationally. Black entertainers like Kevin Hart have made a point of talking about this very phenomenon in multiple interviews. And Kevin does bring down the house. He’s kind of a superstar. (I mean how many movies has he done in the past five years?) But he’s one guy.

Black Panther gave us a cast full of black excellence, some familiar faces, and some new.

And oh baby, did it travel.

$1 B I L L I O N, and still climbing.

Following Ryan Coogler’s career, I knew he was capable of delivering something of quality. He’s a brilliant story teller, but I wondered how he would bring his auteurism to a studio like Marvel, who, in my opinion, makes movies that generally lack depth. Marvel makes good movies, obviously, but I rarely go to the theater to see them.

The two philosophies pitted against each other in the film worked perfectly as the defining conflict between T’Chala and Eric. Tradition vs. Innovation? What is a nation that has built and sustained itself to do in the context of a global society? Do they have a moral obligation to help those who cannot help themselves? Or should they just mind their business like they’ve been doing?

I knew I smelled a rat. W’Kabi a.k.a. Brutus, Daniel Kaluuya’s character, said something telling in the first act of the film.

“If you bring the refugees here, they bring their problems with them. Then Wakanda is like everywhere else.”

Sounds like a Trump supporter to me. When he said that, I knew I had to watch that nigga. And low and behold, this bitch is leading the rebellion. But he knew he wasn’t stepping to T’Chala – and winning – so he waited for his moment.

ENTER Eric Killmonger.

The beginning of the movie sets up his tragic story and we get some context to what he’s trying to accomplish here. The MO: to liberate oppressed people the world over and usher in a new era of Wakandan global dominance. But his motives are revealed to be completely selfish and ill-founded so the mission was doomed to fail from the start.

From what I’ve seen on the internet, very few people are acknowledging the voice of reason, Nakia, Lupita Nyong’o’s character, who was basically saying “We don’t have to wage war on the world to help it. We have the juice here. Ain’t nobody fuckin’ with Wakanda. We can all be great.” A happy medium right? I thought so.

T’Chala is ultimately won over by Nakia’s philosophy and he even confronts his dad about it after being revived from the spirit realm. Leave it to a woman to be the rational one.

This is where my absolute favorite comes in. Lord M’Baku of the Jabari people.  He sees himself as this defender of tradition in his initial combat with T’Chala. He’s been watching from the mountains and does not like what he sees. He’s gracious enough to keep T’Chala alive after finding him nearly lifeless but set in resolve to remain neutral in the ensuing struggle for power. But in the end, the Jabari people help to save their Wakanda, realizing that it would be more a crime to remain silent than to let Killmonger and W’Kabi wage war on the world.

Depth. Thought provoking. Insightful. The performances were amazing. The costume design, the detail, the aesthetic, everything about this movie was out of this world. It’s the best Marvel movie I’ve ever seen hands down, but it also one of the best movies I’ve ever seen period.

This was a feat of tremendous proportions and I am both floored and fascinated. What the world is about to witness something I will call the Black Panther effect, pushing forward an era of pushing boundaries, telling new stories, and inspiring new ideas.

And I cannot wait.

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