The last time I fell for a hyped up movie was Avatar. That film was great but Black Panther is even better! Where Avatar is a complete fantasy Black Panther is very much a real life story that interchanges between daily life and a futuristic utopian nation.
Black Panther has everything. The story is good but what makes the movie great is how the past is interwoven with the future and the many layers it conveys. Advanced technology kept up and protected by ancient tradition. African Djembe rhythm scores supported by Kendrick Lamar’s latest number one tracks, traditional spears and garments advanced with Vibranium, a high end element that keeps the traditions, the land and its people safe.
Wakanda, a fictional place that is I am sure now home to many, is an absolute beautiful idea. A perception of what Africa could have become had it not been stripped from its resources and its people. The most beautiful place on earth as Erik Killmonger, the villain played so well by Michael B Jordan calls it, is not just heaven on earth. Like every nation it has its own challenges. Fundamental questions from how to protect its citizens to what the nation’s responsibilities are when it comes to the rest of the world are only a few of the challenges that the new King T’Challa played Chadwick Boseman, has to deal with.
When you think about it Killmonger, although scary with a body full of marks for every person he has killed, doesn’t even fight for a bad cause. The villain’s idea to equip Black people all over the world to fight back on all levels, including socially, is a great but the attempt to take over by killing using the indestructible weapons of Vibranium, not so much. King T’Challa states his responsibilities clearly; he is king of Wakanda, not of the world. His job is to keep the people of his nation safe and their warriers only use force when absolutely necessary.
The Malcolm X versus the Martin Luther King arguments that play out in Wakanda are worldly questions not black and white issues with clear cut answers. As author Brooke Obie put it, “Self-preservation at the cost of everyone else lays the trap for self-destruction.”
The diversity of women in various key roles is not just strong, it’s fantastic. From chief warrier Okoye, brilliantly played by Danai Gurira to the James-Bond-like tech gadget developer super funny sister of the king, Shuri played by Letitia Wright, women are equals. There is no battle between the sexes, there are conversations. When W’kabi played by Daniel Kaluuya from “Get Out” falls on his knees to submit to his great love Okoye, it’s after he looks around and sees what is at stake. An iconic moment they both choose Wakanda. Wakanda foreva!
What puts Black Panther in a league of its own is its unexpected side-splitting humor connected to profound cultural references that not everyone may get. Like this new heroic or better yet iconic hairoic moment that equals Pam Grier pulling out a gun of her fabulous Afro.
The whole building up to that moment when lead warrier Okoye walks into a casino bar with a straight wig to fit in, is seriously amusing. Then when she pulls it off her head in the midst of chaotic fighting scenes that puts you on the edge of your chair and uses the “the ridiculous wig” as a weapon, smashing it in the face of the enemy, it is just hysterical.
— Lohanne Cook (@BitOfRandmTruth) February 18, 2018
Although the whole theater burst out laughing, it may be a layer to deep for everyone to get. While Variety writer Peter Debruge sees it, wrongly in my opinion, as the most gay-friendly Marvel moment to date, the message should not be lost.
Given the fact that all styles of the lead characters are natural, from short shaven styles from the female warriers to Nakia’s (Lupita N’yongo) bantu knots, Black Panther also sends a clear message about beauty standards and natural hair. Even if people don’t get it, it is still great that the film planted a seed.
Black Panther is not just a film, like Avatar, it’s an experience. The costumes are vibrantly beautiful, the scenery is nothing like you’ve seen before and the cast just outstanding. The scenes take you to a beautiful even magical tech advanced futuristic place hidden in the mountains of Africa while sketching real world issues with a bright sense of humor. It’s an experience I hope everyone will have.
Also see the #WakandaStyle Gallery.