When Black Panther literally dropped onscreen to chase Bucky Barnes who he believed was responsible for his father's death I was completely in awe. Once Marvel released the first trailer of Black Panther I said to myself this is going to be the movie of the year. When Black Panther hit the screens my sailor and I couldn't get in to see it until last night, that's how packed every theater in our area was. But finally, last night, after all of the anticipation and excitement, we finally secured seats in AMC on 42nd! I got my water bottle and chocolate almonds, settled into those prime recliner seats and practically swooned when Dolby vibrated our seats and thunder shook below like an earthquake. Oh yeah, it's Wakanda time!
I'm not going to do a scene by scene because you've got to experience this visual thrill for yourself. The beautiful Wakanda village, tribal garb, the accents of the actors, the traditional spear weapons though upgraded with the added kick of Vibranium all enveloped me with a sense of African Wakanda culture. I felt like I was being treated to something wonderful, novel, and secret.
The camera zoomed in past the shield and I received my first glimpse of Wakanda in all of its glory. Were those trains floating? Was the princess a genius inventor? By the by, I did get quite a thrill and a huge sensation of pride regarding the princess played by Letitia Wright, born from my father's country and a stellar representative of British Guyana! Woo hoo - big up! Her talent is incredible!!!! I was enamored by all things Wakanda.
And then I wasn't. In quick succession the Utopian illusion faded. Early on a conflict is presented between the original King T'Chaka and his brother N'Jobu and when all was said and done I found that I was not on the side of the King - like not at all. (Psst, talk about life imitating art I find I've got the same problem today but I digress.)
After I saw the movie, I read an article a friend of mine (David Shaw) posted on his FB, written by a female talent otherwise known as TaLynn Kel. I have to admit though I did not mirror her level of rage (justifiable in my estimation) I did for the most part resonate with her reasoning and opinion.
Breaking Normal - TaLynn Kel
I too wondered why Wakanda, in possession of the world's state of the art triage, power source and weaponry chose NOT to engage in healing specifically Black people when possible, stopping Black oppression where they could and giving a power source to those in need? While I think it's wonderful to help everyone in this way; racial division, oppression, slavery and brutality was and is a huge problem and Wakanda had an arsenal of solutions none of which they utilized to forward anyone but themselves. It felt downright criminal.
I was fascinated by Erik Killmonger/Michael B. Jordan. His stature, training, intelligence, iron will and wrath was justifiable, his directive far more comprehensible to me than that of King T'Challa. I thought Erik's ire needed to be tempered. I wanted to believe that he could be reasoned with, perhaps not but I was furious that his "family" made no attempt. Killmonger had the same issue as Magua from The Last of the Mohicans. Magua's heart is twisted, he would make himself into what twisted him. To hunt monsters Erik became one but by Bast he participated in the fight! He was quite literally down for the crown and that's more or less who I would prefer to serve rather than a king who turned a blind eye to the suffering of those around him simply to protect a resource and keep his borders closed, vouchsafing Wakandans EXCLUSIVELY.
In the end, Killmonger became a brighter symbol in my heart and when he was dying I wanted T'Challa to save him, not alter but redirect his conditioning, dispossess Erik's mission by proposing a new one. We all have our uses. Think back to the scene where the King's Guardwoman Okoye said her mission was to serve Wakanda and Nakia retorted that her mission was to save it. Guess what? They're both crucial.
When Erik uttered his dying words - " Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, cause they knew death was better than bondage" I kid you not, I choked up. I had to blink back the tears. I was angry because they killed my hero. It got progressively worse after the credits rolled learning that Shuri was able to heal the mind of Bucky, who as The Winter Solider became a programmed assassin for the Soviets. Don't get me wrong, I love Bucky. I'm grateful that they were able to save him. I'm angry because they did not save Erik. While it is true that T'Challa said to Erik, "I still might be able to save you" Erik replied "why, so you could lock me up?" Why did T'Challa not voice an alternative? Erik gave him an opening by proposing the question. Instead he looked away as his cousin lay dying. Why should history have repeated itself in a place where technology, intelligence and beauty elevated its people? I have a hard time reconciling this.
I fed my sailor the entire diatribe last night and judging from his exhausted look it was yet another speech he could have done without. I can't blame him. I can get on. He then looked at me with his baby seal eyes and said "babe, ah, it's only a movie." He is right. So lemme wrap this up on a positive.
In the end the new king T'Challa recognizes that he does not want to be the ruler his father was but a much better one. He introduces Wakanda to the rest of the world and perhaps his temperament is better suited to the arena of world politics. It was gratifying to see. There is hope.
I still loved the movie. It was wonderful to experience this culture in such visual vibrancy.
I loved every scene with Winston Duke (a native of Tobago - yesss big up) as M'Baku. He was incredible, strong and fierce. His gorilla sound, the Jabari tribe gorilla sound in unison thrilled me to the bone. It was savage strength voiced in primal sound accompanying the Jabari perfectly. I also heard M'Baku's nod to Hanuman, who is traditionally a Hindu God, embodying among other characteristics, strength, honor and protection. I dug it.
Now let's talk about the women for a second. Showing off that fresh shorn and wearing beautiful Wakandan garments split to the thigh on both sides, the women were sexy, strong, muscular and intelligent. Wakanda recognizes, utilizes and celebrates the women of their land, just check out their professions, doctor, inventor, warrior and spy!
The entire cast is top tier - phenomenal performances by absolutely everyone. Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong'o were outstanding and left me breathless. Sterling K. Brown make some space for another award. You might have been onscreen for 10 minutes but your talent is BO NA FIDE!
In the last scene King T'Challa takes Shuri to the outreach center he established in honor of his uncle, N'Jobu. She immediately sets upon answering the neighborhood kids questions, enthusiastically accepting her new role as head of the center. And me, well I see it as a good first step in fulfilling the promise and greatness that is the Black Panther.