Because obviously I was going to have some words for the culture. This is culture. This is impactful. This is important. If you’d like me to use anymore superlatives or hyperbolic forms of expression, I can do that, but I’ll spare you because if you’re reading this, you’ve likely already watched Black Panther (or Blek Pintha according to Forest Whitaker) for the 2nd, 3rd or 4th time. If you’re like me, of the conglomerate who has watched it one time (so far), then welcome to the STiXXclusive Review of this movie. It’s nice to have you here. I don’t write spoilers.
There aren’t many moments in Black life where we all (like all of us – everywhere) get excited about a common cause that doesn’t involve some form of athletics. Black Panther isn’t just another Marvel movie in its Cinematic Universe, but it’s the first time where Black people are able to see themselves completely in a light where we don’t have to worry about if we’re going to survive through the movie or suffer slight (or moderate) secondhand embarrassment. A superhero who just happens to be Black and embedded on the big screen for the world to see speaks to the slowly, but improving landscape in which Black people can hold space in Hollywood and more mainstream TV in general, as you see shows like Luke Cage & Black Lightning. Not just as fictitious superheroes or villains, but the simple act of being able to relate to the figure on screen, as many men, women, and children were immersed in imagery that didn’t seem imaginable to be told in a beautiful light. It’s safe to say that this movie accomplished that, and I’m certainly not the first or last who will regurgitate that sentiment across the board.
Behind the excitement of the movie, there’s the actual story of T’Challa, King of Wakanda. The comic book version has been around since long before I was born, and I didn’t read the originals, but I did get into the series when it was reimagined with the words of Ta-Nehisi Coates, and it’s that imagery of him (vulnerable, yet firm and understanding and certainly no overt displays of machismo) that came to mind when watching the movie. Seriously, if you love the movie, check out Coates’ Black Panther series. I’m going to re-read it just because. I’m glad that the protectors of the brand, aka the “you didn’t even read the comics” population of Black Panther fans didn’t come out and shame the movie lovers. If this was their first experience with Black Panther, then damn it, let them be. There was excitement when he appeared in Civil War, when the movie was announced, when it was being filmed, when the first rough cut was announced that it was 4 hours long – you couldn’t tell Black people anything, and quite frankly, no one is going to, and that’s a beautiful thing.
As for the movie, it’s hard to keep composure when you’re determined to go in with a clear mind, with your own expectations, while trying to avoid every spoiler on Earth and everyone and their mother asking you if you’ve seen it yet. A week seemed like a whole ass month, but with all that said, it was all worth it. The wait, the excitement, and then finally when it came to the product, it was worth every moment, and I understand completely why people are seeing it over and over, and over again. Africans being depicted in an accurate light is never going to be perfect, especially when Hollywood productions are involved, but where Black Panther got it right was tedious attention to detail by respecting multiple Continental African traditions, wardrobe, and customaries. Obviously, it needs to be noted that I am Canadian-Jamaican and not African (I mean, like…you know, technically yeah, but like…you know), so I can’t directly comment on accuracies and inaccuracies that were portrayed. That’s not my lane. What I will say is that this was a very satisfying film, that didn’t feel forced in terms of going all the way by trying to make it as Black as possible, but it clashed different worlds, where there was able to be relatability on all fronts. I think the most important thing that was highlighted that can be spoken to real life, is that the continent of Africa is not a monolith. Wakanda is an enriched society that is self-sustaining. There are functioning countries within Africa that are thriving. No country is short of some form of corruption, and not every country is poor. They exist, but it’s not the be all and end all. What Wakanda represents is Black Excellence – as much as many people hate the term, it at least allowed Black people (especially in North America whom haven’t been to Africa) to see a world in where it doesn’t look like the commercials for World Vision or a Christian Children’s Fund advertisement. It’s not all doom and gloom, although that was the role of Michael B. Jordan with Killmonger.
Now, I’ve been listening to the Soundtrack thoroughly since its release, and a lot of pieces that I figured I was trying to put together, I was able to do that after watching the movie. The mindsets of Killmonger & T’Challa and portraying them as two sides of one coin, it adds yet another Kendrick-ass-element of in-depth study that needs more breakdown, but there was so much more in the movie that hit a lot of Black discussions that I’m sure I’ll be diving into online now that I’ve finally watched this movie. The relationships of fathers, the tension between Continental Africans and the Diaspora overseas, the role of women in Wakanda being portrayed as strong respected figures; there’s a lot to love about this movie. I love that Marvel trailers don’t reveal the hints of what will go down, nor do they often reveal what are the best parts. The little glimpses gave you a bit of an idea, but there were many times where there was general shock and confusion. The soundtrack titles and lyrics in the songs make more sense afterwards and will furthermore enhance the listening experience.
Seeing Black people happy about this movie is truly the best feeling in the world, because it’s like a “finally” moment in which we can all bask in, talk about, celebrate, and look forward to more of, because there’s no way more won’t be coming. Ryan Coogler has struck gold 3 times over, and I couldn’t be happier to be a fan of his work. The fact that he secured a Marvel movie for his 3rd theatrical release is simply insane, but well-deserved. The cast was entertaining, the music score, in its most African feel, was awesome, and I will not apologize for appearing like a fanboy, although I’m supposed to bring forth a review that is well-rounded so that the average viewer can get a sense of what the scope of this movie’s about. But this isn’t an average movie for average fans. It’s by us, and for us. It’s not that outsiders aren’t welcome (Killmonger), but it’s a different feeling to experience watching your likeliness on screen in a consistent manner that celebrates who you are. It’s the intersectionality of things, you know? So if you haven’t seen it yet, do that. If you have seen it, do it again. Celebrate the way you feel, because it’s deserved, damn it. This is my opinion, this is my review,
That’s My Word & It STiXX