Greetings fellow Comix Bawses!
Warning: There are a few spoilers in here, but I’m not going to re-tell you the entire movie, because first of all that’s kind of boring especially if you saw it already. Secondly, if you haven’t seen it, I do want you to have something to look forward to. That’s part of the joy in this movie in my opinion.
I went to see Black Panther this past Friday night with my mom and one of my best friends. After I left the theater all I could think was . . .
Hot diggity dog! That was good as sh*t! Whew!
You know that feeling you get when you notice you have more money in your wallet than thought you did and you realize that you can actually buy that second comic book or extra slice of pizza? Or, the feeling you get when you’re looking forward to going on that one date with the person you’ve been crushing on for a long time. Or, the feeling you get when someone tells you a personal story that resonates with you deeply. Well . . . picture those feelings times ten! That’s how this movie made me feel.
I’ve never left a movie feeling more empowered. Well . . . let me correct that, I have left a movie feeling empowered—I felt that way after I saw Hidden Figures—but I didn’t think anything would be able to top that; however, Black Panther certainly did.
Now, my accolades aren’t for the storyline as much as they’re for the feelings and thoughts that the movie sparked within me; certain aspects of this movie really spoke to my soul. From start to finish I was emotional, proud, and sometimes sad. I felt beautiful, intelligent, and resilient. More importantly, I felt like I belonged to something greater than myself.
A sense of belonging has been a rather foreign concept in my lifetime; I’ve had far too many moments and interactions with people where I felt like an other or like an outsider. There were (and still are) times where I’ve felt “too Black,” or “too White,” or “too dark,” or simply not enough. As a Black girl growing up in primarily White neighborhoods and attending predominantly White schools, I’m
familiar too familiar with the concept of otherness; I was an anomaly of sorts.
I remember a time in school—when I was seven or so—a classmate of mine, a little White girl, told me I looked like “poop.” I remember another time when I was told that I looked like a “monkey.” I remember when I yelled at my parents for giving me hair that was “too hard to do.” I remember my 13th birthday. I got my hair straightened during a day of pampering with my mom and my sister and I told my parents after I’d arrived home: “I’m so happy. I finally have White-people-hair.” My mom and dad were visibly shaken by my remark. Oh. I remember another time, when I sat down in my bathroom and covered my face in way-too-light-concealer to see if that would make me prettier. Oh yeah, and that one time when I was on a “date” and the guy—a Black guy—told me, a dark-skinned Black girl, that he actually preferred lighter-skinned women. Why the heck are you here with me then? Is what I thought initially. Then, that thought changed to me wishing I was a a few shades lighter—like a piece of caramel instead of milk chocolate. But, I didn’t say that because I was happy someone was interested in me enough to be with me even for a short time. I have other stories like these, but these are ones that stick out most to me in my mind. They’re deeply personal and sometimes hard to say out loud (that’s a perk of blogging eh?) but I share them for a reason. I don’t think these thoughts about myself now (I’ve come a really really long way from that), but what this movie does is that it portrays people, men and women, that look like me doing exceptional things. It’s super important for Black people to see themselves within positive people. There’s too many instances where Black actors and actresses are stuffed into negative roles that perpetuate the idea that we’re less than everyone else. This is detrimental to our psyche because we end up going through life constantly seeking approval from others and feeling like we’re never good enough, not even for ourselves. We desperately need to see more positive Black role models more often and on a regular basis. What’s unfortunate for Blacks and for other people of color is that anytime we’re seen selling dope, or calling one of our women a b*tch, or beating on our kids, other people think we’re ALL like that! One mistake or one bad apple defines our entire race. But when Hispanic teen, Nikolas Cruz (he identifies as White) decides to shoot up an entire school, it’ll just be him. He’s the bad apple, but it won’t be that all White people are bad or crazy. His crime will be isolated and separate from the rest. For us, we’re lumped together and our actions dictate our entire group. That’s the damnedest thing huh?
THE MUSES CAME TOO EARLY AND PRINCESS TIANA WASN’T ENOUGH
Remember The Muses from Hercules (1997) . . . the all-Black female quintet who acted as narrators in the animated movie? Hercules is my all-time favorite movie and I’ve watched it around ten or 11 times. These ladies were of darker complexion and they were as classy and as soulful as ever. Looking back on the movie as an adult, I’m surprised that they even played such a large role in the movie; they were people that Black women could look up to and admire. But, for me, I was only three at the time of its release! I wasn’t interested in the concept of Blackness and I wasn’t even aware that I was Black. So, they were just five beautiful women to me who could sing their butts off! Then, we have Princess Tiana, the lovely mocha-skinned southern belle, from The Princess and the Frog (2009). When this movie was released I was 14 years old and I was already dealing with self-hatred issues; I was pretty far gone by that point. I mean . . . sure, I thought it was nice to see, but it wasn’t as impactful of a movie as Black Panther was for me. Also, it kinda felt like Disney was saying: here’s your Black princess, now quit your b*tching! So yeah . . . not enough.
So, what exactly are the reasons why Black Panther was so darn great?
REPRESENTATION MATTERS – #MelaninIsIn #DarkSkin
The first thing I noticed about this movie was the sheer amount of Black people in it. That sounds obvious considering I’m certain that you’ve seen the trailer and expected that, but the film was like 99.9% Black. I have never EVER seen something like that in my life before! Not only were they Black, but most were dark-skinned. For me, this was extremely significant. Yes, all Black skin, no matter what shade is beautiful; however, you may have noticed that there aren’t nearly as many dark-skinned Black people that are cast in movies in comparison to the number of lighter-skinned Blacks that are. “Too dark” is considered ugly and movies, even “Black” movies stray away from characters that are very dark (the Black community suffers from a huge colorism issue).
Once you get past the initial shock and inevitable immense joy after seeing so many Black faces, you’ll start to pay attention to how good they look. I was mesmerized watching Lupita Nyong’o’s character, Nakia rock emerald green and bright red gowns. Angela Bassett’s Ramonda was absolutely breathtaking in ivory. I remember looking at my mom and my friend and whispering about how incredible they looked! It was almost weird because they all looked like they were glowing! You know how when you’re trying to take a selfie and you tap on the screen to get the best lighting so you’ll look the most flawless? Well . . . the videographers were tapping the camera the entire movie!!! The way the sun and moon reflected off of their darker complexions captivated me throughout the entirety of the film. To me, brown skin already looks amazing in sunlight (we got it like that); however, the people filming them did a phenomenal job at capturing our beauty. For those of you who saw the film, you know what I’m talking about and for those who haven’t made their way to the theater—you need to see it to believe it.
This representation of darker skin is really important and I’m certain that any dark-skinned women feeling undervalued, by your own people and by other races, you’ll leave this movie feeling more beautiful and appreciated than ever, I know I did. Not only was dark skin represented, but a Black man loving a dark-skinned Black woman was included as well; Nakia is Black Panther’s (a.k.a. T’Challa) love interest. On many occasions in the world of televisions and film, many (not all) dark-skinned men will be married to or in a relationship with a lighter-skinned Black woman. Yes, Black love is beautiful in all of its forms, but dark-skinned Black women get left out of this equation far too often for my liking. We’re all equal beautifully and dark skin should be reflected in Black love too; Black Panther truly celebrated this love. I’d also like to note that, the love between T’Challa and Nakia was genuine as it was based out of mutual respect and admiration. He would “freeze” whenever he saw her and it was easy to tell how much she loved and admired him. It wasn’t about sex or one trying to establish dominance over the other, it was just genuine love.
SHURI ISN’T JUST A PRINCESS SHE’S THE PRINCESS 👸🏿
The buzz circulating this movie showed that Shuri was going to be one of the focal points of the film. She’s a technology genius who also happens to be T’Challa’s younger sister, which makes her a princess. Now, being a princess is cool and all obviously, but what’s even cooler is that she’s wickedly smart! She designs all of her brother’s costumes and she’s really funny. I didn’t expect her to be as humorous as she was, but she definitely added a bit of flair to the movie with her cute jokes. What’s awesome is that, T’Challa never feels slighted by the fact that she’s a million times more intelligent than he is. He needs her to be quite honest and it became clear to me that this is something he knows as well. But, despite her intellect she needs him too. Considering the fact that T’Chaka (T’Challa and Shuri’s father) died, she looks to him as a strong male figure that’ll always be there to protect her. She keeps T’Challa safe as she makes his suits sound-absorbent, bullet-proof, and sleek. His suits even have a brain—if an enemy kicks or punches T’Challa, it’ll hurt, but the suit then absorbs the energy from the attack so if he’s hit again in the same spot the attacker will basically be running into a brick wall . . . which hurts them a lot. T’Challa always tries to keep her safe using his superhuman strength and speed. In the war scene when Killmonger attempted to kill her, T’Challa’s senses honed in on her and he created this force-field that knocked a bunch of enemies off of him. He then zoomed over to her and saved her just as she was about to meet her death. Ahh, sibling love . . . it was so sweet.
What’s even cooler than Shuri’s ingenuity is what her character represents for young Black girls around the world—this is what makes her the princess. Young girls will get the opportunity to see a woman who’s extremely interested in science and technology—fields that are still lacking people of color. I’m certain that if young girls are presented with more characters like Shuri that the increase of women of color in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields will increase along with it. When Black girls see Shuri making awesome suits and healing broken spines, they’ll begin setting their own goals and aspire to one day do great things in the world—especially for the advancement of their own people. A win for one Black girl is a win for us all.
OKOYE IS A TRUE WARRIOR: SHE’S THE EPITOME OF LOYALTY, STRENGTH, AND RESILIENCE
Okoye, played by Danai Gurira, was something else. Whew. She’s the leader of the Dora Milaje, the all-female warrior group of Wakanda. She’s one of the strongest characters that I’ve ever seen! She’s skilled in combat and her spear is her best friend. She’s so in tune with her body and her weapons that when she fights, it looks like she’s dancing. She’s loyal to the royal family and she’s fiercely loyal to Wakanda . . . over everything else, even over her lover, W’kabi (played by Daniel Kaluuya, the star of Get Out). When T’Challa was defeated by Killmonger, her loyalty shifted from T’Challa to him even though she despised Killmonger. The most emotional scene in the film was the exchange between Nakia and Okoye when they discussed Killmonger’s new position as King of Wakanda. Their acting was amazing, especially Gurira’s because you could see in her eyes that she was torn as her love and respect for T’Challa is strong, but her loyalty to the throne runs much deeper. It’s her duty to protect and serve whomever is set to rule and she firmly holds onto that belief.
Her character wasn’t only captivating for the fact that you have to be really hot to rock the bald look, but because it shows that loyalty means everything. Yes, Okoye could have easily sided with Nakia in an attempt to overthrow Killmonger, but there ALWAYS needs to be someone at home willing to hold it down, even when it’s really hard. In many ways, Black people are disconnected and sometimes we’re too quick to just chase what feels good instead of chasing what’s best for us at the time. Okoye exemplifies what it means to put the greater good of your people first. Okoye wasn’t only there to protect to the new king, but also to protect the people of Wakanda—who can’t defend themselves. And, considering how evil Killmonger was, I’m sure she’d have to protect her people from him too. Someone needs to do it and she shows us that even when its tough, the people you vowed to protect always come first.
ERIK “KILLMONGER” STEVENS WAS EVIL, BUT HE REALLY MADE ME THINK ABOUT ISSUES WITHIN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
Ugh! I hated Killmonger, but I felt sorry for him at the same time. He’s the left-out, abandoned cousin of T’Challa that never quite got what he felt he deserved. Michael B. Jordan did a good job of expressing both his character’s pain and evilness. When an actor can make me hate their character, they did their job (like Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Stephen in Django Unchained—god he was awful!). If you saw the movie then you know he possessed a lot of bad qualities like: vengefulness, anger, violence, and power-hungriness. But, he did make think about the state of Black people as a whole. Wakanda is the most technologically advanced nation in the world, yet they keep it to themselves in order to protect and preserve it. The rulers of Wakanda believe that if they share their powers with the rest of the world, they can potentially put themselves at risk for outsiders using it for evil or worse trying to take their nation from them. This makes sense because they’re aware of how Whites stripped several nations of their resources leaving disaster and disease behind. Killmonger’s standpoint though, is that since he lived as an American he’s seen the poorest Black Americans and was privy to their everyday struggles. He believes that they should share Wakanda’s wealth with Black people to help advance them so they no longer have to suffer as they do. He wants Blacks to be in power and to take over the world instead of living in secrecy. This leads to the question of whether or not Killmonger is as evil as the Whites that colonized the people’s of other nations in the past. I can understand both sides to be honest, especially Killmonger’s perspective because I feel that Black people could do a better job of supporting and uplifting one another on a regular basis. I think we’ve definitely come a long way as more of us becoming #Woke as we try to regain a sense of Black identity and culture. We even have more positive role models to look up to and depend on! Yay! Black Panther shows us what we’re capable of, but are we as Black people going to make sure to continue to execute our abilities and help one another? I truly hope so, because we still have a long way to go.
Overall, the movie blew me away because I found it empowering, inspiring, and thought- provoking. When I got home, my friend and I were going on and on about the movie to my parents and to my uncle. My uncle and friend said something pretty funny actually. She said something along the lines of: Every other superhero pales in comparison to Black Panther. Now, Batman is the poor man’s Black Panther! Lol! My uncle responded: He’s like the Black Panther on food stamps huh? I nearly died!
I give the movie a rating of: ★★★★ and 1/2 stars out of 5.
The reason for the deduction of that 1/2 star is because of the soundtrack—or lack thereof. The album for the movie was really hyped up since Kendrick Lamar was in the majority of the songs, but I didn’t really hear much of it throughout the movie. I’m not sure if I was just so mesmerized by Lupita’s perfect skin or because of the fact that I don’t like Kendrick Lamar’s voice and subconsciously decided to tune him out. Either I just didn’t pay enough attention to the music or the music wasn’t present enough. If the latter is the case (which I think it is) then the soundtrack could have been more ubiquitous.
I hope you enjoyed my review! Let me know what you thought of the movie in the comments; I want to know what you think! Did you love it? Hate it? Who’d you think was hot? Did it make you think? Do you agree with or disagree with anything I’ve said? Tell me! Don’t be shy 🙂
P.S. If you haven’t seen the movie yet make sure that when you do, you stick around after the credits . . . there’s some extra scenes that you won’t want to miss!
Featured Photo: [Right: Black Panther – Courtesy of Marvel, Left: Me – Selfie]