Rating 5/5 – It took me a while to process exactly how I feel about Marvel’s Black Panther. When I did my post about the trailer I said that there was no way to make this movie an not make it the blackest thing ever. It’s built into the character and his origins. What I did not expect was how black it would actually be. Marvel’s Black Panther was blacker than black – and that particular phrase might be one that goes over non-black folk’s head. It basically means a kind of black individual – usually some sort of grassroots organizer who takes a decidedly uncompromising view of black people, who they are, where they come from where they could be going. When a thing is considered blacker than black it’s usually built towards that goal. I’ve heard a couple of really good criticisms about Marvel’s Black Pather’s so-called blackness. They were right and they were wrong but I’ll get to that when I get deeper into this movie. In the opening I can say this is one of those rare times when the movie is worthy of the hype it got.
Marvel’s Black Panther & Afro-Futurism
Afro-Futurism (or Afrofuturism) is not new to Marvel’s Black Panther. Afro-futurism is the varied combination of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentrism and magic in telling stories through books music, movies, videos, comics about black people and their relationship with fantastic technology. This actually began with Sun Ra who put a lot of synthetic vibe into his jazz sound. Janelle Monae used heavy Afro-Futurism in her albums Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase), The ArchAndroid (2010) and The Electric Lady (2013). British journalist Mark Sinker was theorizing a form of Afrofuturism in the pages of The Wire, a British music magazine, as early as 1992. The difference is that while it was more niche when first talked about it’s now a genre thanks to Marvel’s Black Panther. Marvel’s Black Panther has now made it a thing, so don’t get shocked when there’s a shit ton of direct to streaming movies and TV show. Black is the new black, thanks to Marvel’s Black Panther.
Black Panther And The Unspoken What If. . .
As a comic geek, I know who Blak Panther is. He’s always been the king of the African nation of Wakanda, and since his introduction, Wakanda was called the most advanced civilization on Earth. Black Panther was an active member of the Avengers but was still more or less C-List. Then came Christopher Priest and he took all the history of Black Panther and turned it into something really cool. It was Christopher Priest who touched on the internal politics of Wakanda and why the king would join a group of American superheroes. And with all that, it took Marvel’s Black Panther to point out a question implied by Wakanda’s existence: What might African have been like it was never invaded, enslaved or exploited. A question at least black people can relate to on a very secured level. Is it any wonder this movie has become a bonafide thing.
Black Women; Scientists, Warriors, Spies, and Nerds
When you watch Marvel’s Black Panther you get the impression Wakada got their sexual politics together. There was no discussion about it or comparisons and it wasn’t a thing. Marvel’s Black Panther’s army was a huge contingent of female warriors who simply kicked ass. There was way too much forward thinking within the subtext where the teenage girl being their Tony Stark was no more of a big deal as having flying cars, or the main army being a legion of female warriors was just the way it is supposed to be. You just know the MRA and #gamergate busted a sexist/racist gasket over that one. Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong’o were awesome, but the badass in this group was Letitia Wright as Shuri the teenage version of Tony Stark who translates brains into kick-ass so smoothly if they don’t have a moment where Tony and Shuri have just a few minutes of dialogue it would be a crime against the MCU.
Whose the bad guy?
There used to be a debate about if white people could write black characters or could men write female characters. The danger is not if one sex or race is better at writing about themselves because of course, they are, it’s a ridiculous question. However, writers have to create characters who live in worlds and follow some rule. The problem comes when white writers don’t have any real-world experience to draw from so instead draw from what they see in media. For example Killmonger. In the comics, he was a villain that made black kids groan. Hold on, Luke Cage was exactly the same way. “Sweet Christmas” made every kid on my block’s eyes roll. Only white writers think black people say anything like that. (Same went for “foxy” or “sweet mama.” Psst, hey white folk, that was Jewish written blacksploitation, not how black people speak.) He was a D-List joke of a villain. In Marvel’s Black Panther he had a point. I mean as a 56-year-old black male whose watch one kid after another gunned down by police while society still doesn’t give a shit – was Michael B. Jordan really wrong? In a lot of white countries, whites are coming together because of some myth they are under attack and facing extinction. Ameria just voted in a man whose main supporters are violent white supremacist groups. Was Killmonger wrong? That’s the interesting beauty of Marvel’s Black Panther. They had everyone asking the question, and no one black or white honestly has a good answer.
Can you put down a movie that went Star Wars level of nuclear on the Pop Culture consciousness like Marvel’s Black Panther? The problem is you relly have to try (or be a bunch of assholes like “Everything Wrong With. . .” ) because this was a well done, well constructed movie that did not waste an actor, line do dialogue setting or camera. Marvel’s Black has broken records, made more money than Titanic and everyone is completely insane over it. There are those who find everything wrong with it, but I don’t pay attention to those three guys and at least one of them made really good arguments. It’s already the biggest Marvel movie until Infinity War, but it’s worth seeing and the reason the world has fallen in love with it is justified. Black Panther is not just a great movie but is also an icon and it totally deserves to be.