The Black Panther. This name has made much history in this country. From being the code name for a segregated WWII tank battalion to being the symbol for the Black community outreach & self-defense force in the 60’s and 70’s. And now, in 2018, the name makes history yet again. In this age of technology and media, where Facebook and Instagram has more contact with our children than any human being, the Black Panther name makes an impact once again for the first time.
By making a lot of money at the box office.
Many voices cry out from the black community about how important this film is. It’s history making. It’s life changing.It’s the greatest thing for black people this side of Obama and a must see for the entire community. Schools are going on field trips to take kids to see this movie. But does it live up to the hype?
Let’s find out, shall we.
First lets discuss the importance of this film. How important is it really? Well, it is the first main stream movie in recent history with a predominantly black cast that wasn’t a shuckin’ and jivin’ stereotype-laced comedy, or some relationship driven drama, or a period piece showcasing how bad life was for us in history. This was a superhero movie. One based on black culture. With a nearly all black cast. And he was black.
“But Kronoscide” you say “Surely this isn’t the first movie like that. This can’t be the only one.”
To that I say, “Pipe down, I’m getting to that. Don’t get ahead of me.”
Yes there were black superhero movies before this one. And some of them were even good. But, not quite the same.
The most notable ones were Meteor man & Blade. Blade was a good movie and Wesley Snipes did such a good job as a black hero that he was odds on favorite to play Black Panther himself for a long time before he fell out of the limelight. Blade falls short of it’s importance since the only other black characters in the movie were his love interest and his mother. Meteor Man on the other hand did have a predominantly black cast. But even though Robert Townsend has always been very good at avoiding throwing black stereotypes into his films just for an easy laugh, his film was a comedy and therefore the hero himself can only be taken but so seriously.
So what’s next. A superhero movie with a black lead and a predominantly black cast? One where the story is taken seriously? Hmmm. Steel? Nah. That was … well… Shaq. (Nuff said)
So, it looks like Black Panther is the first with all the right elements to be culturally important. And the timing seems to be right. With the currently political climate and overt racism on a steady rise, it seems something like this is needed to at least stem the tide of negativity. Like Josh Whedon on a DC film… but better.
Add to that, the clear tones of the philosophies of the Black Panther Party (Much was made of Wakanda stepping up to protect all those of African decent) and the driving theme of promoting the values of openness and helping one another. Fostering peace through the sharing of resources. And ultimately becoming One World. If you ask me (and you clearly did earlier in this article) I’d say that makes this the definite front runner as the most important black superhero movie yet.
Of course, it means nothing if the movie is crap. All of those elements go to waste if the movie is not done well.
“Yeah, so how bout it” you say, “is the movie good or did you just waste my time?”
Short answer: Yes, it’s good.
I’ve seen it twice and I really enjoyed it. It was well written, well acted and well paced. Kilmonger was a good villain and one that made you sympathize with him as a character. You felt T’Challa’s struggle to steer his country in the direction he wanted to go despite resistance. Shuri was my absolute favorite character and was always quick to remind T’Challa that, while he is a king, he is still just a man.
I do have a couple nitpicks (as with any movie, nothing is perfect) so here is the spoiler warning.
- I did feel we got shortchanged with Ulysses Klaue. I would have liked to see him evolve as a character like he has in the comics. I thought his insanity was interesting and seeing him become a sound based entity and taking his revenge on Wakanda in a sequel would have been interesting. Instead he was murdered and decapitated. Pretty much effectively cutting off that story-line progression
- The final fight started to feel a bit like a CGI mess. The “Trail By Combat” scenes were so good and well choreographed but the finale felt a bit flaccid. Too bad Monty Oum of roosterteeth.com is gone (RIP). He’s who I would give a multi-million dollar budget to, to choreograph a CGI fist fight. (see a montage HERE)
Other than that the movie was awesome. And while it may not cause the vast cultural shift some people hope for, it is a good movie for Africa’s descendants to see and feel good about themselves as a people afterwards. Meanwhile, I’m off to form my own Dura Milaje. Until, next time.