As promised this is my second review of Black Panther, I won’t waste your time. If you haven’t watched Black Panther and want a swift spoiler free review click here. This is the spoiler review and analysis, I plan to dig deeper than most of my other posts because this movie is more important than most. This post is long and if you’re too ADD to handle it I suggest you leave now and go back to checking your Snapchat for that phantom reply you’ve been waiting for.
Okay, now for the mature ones let’s discuss Black Panther, keep in mind this is my review and analysis (yes its gonna be long asf) after watching the movie a second time. Here is why I believe you should watch it a second and third time: the messaging, symbolism, representation and African focus. I’ll break down each one in detail with specific examples. These are the reasons this movie is an all time classic…
You ever watch a black movie and it feels preachy (12 Years A Slave, Birth of A Nation, The Butler) and white reviewers/Oscar voters just give it awards cause of white guilt? This aint that movie! This is a movie that know’s it’s black and knows the audience it is going for but won’t preach to you about the shit we already know. It’s the type of movie that makes it’s message covert rather than showing it in plain sight. Example: there was a scene where M’Baku (one of my favorite characters) tells Agent Ross that if he speaks he will be feed to his children. A scared Agent Ross nervously looks at the Jabari King while he laughs and says “just kidding we are vegetarian”. This subtle comedic piece goes to show the ignorance of
white society towards Africans. Ross thought M’Baku was a savage that eats humans while in reality Cannibalism is rare in African cultures. Especially among Nigerians, and if you didn’t guess it yet M’Baku is Igbo asf. Here the messaging is subtle, as an African this scene was impactful because it was displaying what we all know “these white people don’t know us, they think we’re all World Vision motherfuckers”. While the approach of Erik Killmonger was clear as soon as he got to Wakanda, the subtle messaging from characters like Okoye (the female General of the Dora Milaje) being loyal to tradition rather than justice among is common in African community, this is so subtle that it takes multiple views and a true knowledge of African culture to notice. Don’t slap it in my face like I’m a Neanderthal , make it smooth down my throat like a rum and coke. Ryan Coogler did that.
I could take the easy route and say Black Panther is an extended metaphor of the male African experience from diaspora to King, or a direct scene for scene mimic of The Lion King (T’Challa literally falls of a cliff on some Mufasa ish). Now let’s keep it a buck, this movie had a lot of symbolism but to me one very small yet significant symbol was loomed in my mind. The use of Oral history. Specifically from the very first scene of the movie where a little boy (Killmonger) is speaking to his father about his history, his heritage and who he is as a person. These are universal questions regardless of race, these are questions all humans ask and these are questions that are even deeper for any African Diaspora. For those unaware, Diaspora means “the dispersion of any people from their original homeland” it is mostly attributed to the Jews. Within the North America, especially among Africans, there is a large sense of African Diaspora where you are “American” or “Canadian” but your true heart and where you feel belonging is “back home”. You feel out of place, this is why Erik Killmonger questions his father, N’Jobu, about his origins. Deep down he knows he isn’t form Oakland, he knows his bloodline is from Wakanda and he is lucky to have a present father in his life to lead him into learning his heritage. Or so we thought? You could put this in a Britta filter that’s how clear the symbolism is, the present black father betrayed by his own kind leading to a broken hearted misguided and vengeful young black male that expresses his emotions through anger and extreme violence. Hmm where have I seen this narrative before? *rolls eyes* Where his soul is black from the sour patch that is his upbringing. This is why audiences love Killmonger more than T’Challa, this is literally the story of Cain and Abel, the Prodigal son, Scar and Mufasa, Shrek and Prince Charming, God and Satan, Jacob and Esau Ra and Horus, etc…
Representation and African Roots
I couldn’t separate these two, because they’re essentially the same thing. The reason this movie is beyond the realm of a Marvel movie is because it is a political one. It is a drama wrapped in the tin foil of a Disney flick. When we look at Dramatic or Political movies there’s a message and it is overt, there’s symbolism and usually a social critique. As I previously mentioned we know Black Panther did that, we know the African roots of this movie so why did I even decide to write this section? One clear reason, the representation of African Women. The overarching narrative of African women in mainstream films is very clear: primitive, wise, dumb, backwards, unknown, irrelevant BUT Panther makes it clear that T’Challa is Nothing without African Women. If you are African or have any African friends you understand how important black women are. From jump the representation of African Women is so important Okoye literally tells T’Challa “don’t freeze” and near the end of the movie he is in a coma submerged in snow and Brought back to life (from a frozen state) by Black Women. “Don’t Freeze” headass. The amount of respect African mothers receive is well represented (though i’d prefer more) Angela Bassett plays Ramonda a embodiment of the silent but powerful matriarch. If we keep it all the way real, African’s have more respect for women than white society, media and “third wave feminists” would have you believe. The most powerful moment in the film was when Challa fought M’Baku and Ramonda screamed out “SHOW HIM WHO YOU ARE!!” unless you lived in an African household you will never know how BIG that is. When mama tells you to go hard, you goin SOLID! The impact of African women is so extensiveness I won’t even cover Nakia’s role (she was the female Killmonger without the Mien Kampf retoric) or Shuri’s role because this post would be 2000 worlds and I’d be shocked if y’all had the attention span to make it that far.
Side note: Shuri is goals, she is #BlackGirlMagic I will raise my daughters, mentor my sisters, cousins to be like her. Goals GOALS GOALS!
After a second watch this movie is 4.9/5 .Watch this movie, buy it on blu ray, watch it again and again and again and again until your grandkids hate you for it. Wakanda Forever. We waiting for Black Panther 2. God Bless.