Before I start babbling I want to get two things out of the way. One- I have a job now!!!! That was part of the hold up for me getting a new website set up because you do need money for that 😑 When I get that situated I’ll probably post a shinier review that contains spoilers, which leads me to point number two- this is more of an initial thoughts/reactions post. I’m going to avoid giving away plot points. Obviously, if the scene was in the trailer it’s fair game. I’m going to divide this up into parts.
- Costumes: I don’t when this started, but my fascination with clothes/fashion/costumes has only grown as I’ve gotten older. I will admit wholeheartedly that I am guilty of being stuck on Western fashion (mostly from the past) and that due to my preference for dark colors have not given African fashion it’s due. The designers for Black Panther did an amazing job at creating clothes that blended African culture with the past and the future and they deserve all the awards. Like I would be surprised if they didn’t get nominated for their work especially considering Disney’s last two Live Action princess movies did (and I personally think it wasn’t deserved). Everything told a story, everyone looked beautiful and regal, and nothing looked out of place. To me, cohesion is just as important as stand out/ statement pieces and Ruth Carter got it right. I look forward to seeing her work again if she’s back for the sequel.
- Story: I loved Thor Ragnarok (I still do). It was a fun movie yes, but it also touched on issues that were timely (i.e refuges, colonialism, etc.) and I think having a Maori/Jewish director played a huge role in that. It also (having now seen both) was a perfect set up for Black Panther’s character/themes. I somewhat pity the people who believe that because these movies followed some of Marvel’s usual patterns that they weren’t unique and important in their own right. As I stated above I’m not going to spoil anything, but no Marvel film (in the cinematic universe it’s created since Iron Man) has touched on race the way Black Panther has. The other men of the MCU wish they had T’challa’s charm, class, and ability to be humbled. Hell, save for Thor (who as you know I also love) none of the other characters know the responsibilities of a king. This movie builds on Ragnarok’s colonialism discussion and it does something amazing for Black people at a scale some could never have imagined. If you feel that’s same old same old I’m sorry to inform you but your head has been buried in the sand. Free yourself.
- THE WOMEN: Being a feminist isn’t something I try to hide or downplay. Marvel has introduced women who are interesting before but only in small doses. Back when these movies first came out even though I didn’t love her I knew as a woman I had to root for Black Widow because she would be treated the hardest and be given the sexist run around. Now I can say at this point, I no longer care/want her to have a solo film, and am beyond thankful we have even more inspiring/ass-kicking women to choose from. That needed to be said first because The Dora-Milaje/Okoye were incredible. Nakia was a badass and I could see where her heart was from the moment she came on screen. Shuri is now both my sister and my daughter and I want to see her so much in Phase 4 or Marvel will be hearing from ME. This film broke the ‘there can only be one’ rule and it deserves to be recognized for that. The movie respects these women and their agency and most importantly so does T’challa. I say most importantly because it seemed clear to me that Wakanda was an egalitarian society, however, it’s easy for creators to still stick in patriarchal constructs due to the fact that that is what we know. This is especially true when it comes to beauty standards and Lupita Nyong’o being the love interest was crucial. Dark skinned women are almost never complex in film and tv and even if they have romance there’s always bitterness or bickering involved. T’challa is in awe of Nakia (as we all are) and their relationship is so soft and honestly, we need more of this in the actual romance genre (on screen) and in general.
- The Villain: It’s hard to talk about Erik Kimonger (which is not his given surname) without heading straight into spoiler territory, but I have to reiterate what everyone else is saying. He is complex, he is in a lot of ways right, and Michael B. Jordon played the shit out of his role. I’d actually even go as far as to say he was more of an antagonist than a standard superhero bad guy because like with the Vulture from Spiderman: Homecoming his motives are rooted in something real rather than cosmic. Erik’s also not in it for himself alone. More on him later.
- Music: I never really pay attention to things like score or soundtrack with superhero films. I did like the direction they went with Iron Man and why, but ultimately I don’t listen to it outside of watching the movie. Then Guardians of the Galaxy came along and I related so much to Peter’s routine of putting on tunes and getting things done that I started to pay a little more attention. Especially since the sequel’s soundtrack does a fantastic job of telling the movie’s story/ being immensely fun. Then Thor Ragnarok arrived and I actually found myself interested in the score as well. That and the immigrant song is permanently stuck in my head. Black Panther continued this by mixing hip-hop and tradition in a really catchy way and honestly, I am looking forward to paying closer attention to music choices in films to come.
At this point, I think it’s rather obvious that I recommend this film not just for Black people to get inspired and feel the love (although Yes to that all day every day), but also for anyone who loves the MCU, superheroes, and movies made where everyone gives 110%. In my personal opinion, it (along with Thor 3) prove that all movies, but particular the Hero genre need way more People of Color behind the scenes and directing because they are game changers and have made me pumped rather than fatigued.
As always stay informed and be good to yourselves!!!
***Featured Image: Unsurprisingly when you search for Black Panther and filter out images based on commercial use you get a lot of pictures of real panther’s 😒