The hype around this movie is unreal. Virtually every black person in America is talking about Black Panther. It’s similar to the hype I experienced with the film Get Out around this time last year. The mainstream media has not promoted the movie beyond interviews with some of the cast members. This does not bother me too much since most black films typically don’t get much attention until they are already a success at the box office (again like Get Out). Either way, a lot of people are making their friends see the film opening weekend. Entire events like cosplay group screenings, movie after parties and African American cultural events can be found throughout Houston.
One event in particular was the one created by the Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC). Partnering with Disney, they had an early screening event paired with an exhibit following the theme of the movie. Event goers experienced vintage comic books of OG black marvel superheroes, sketches and painting of black culture and expression, Black Panther renderings, as well as a black superhero panel discussion. An artists that stood out to me the most was Aesha Lee. Her oil based sketches on wooden plates of black women were incredible.
The combination of black culture, art, and black superheroes meant naturally I had to be in attendance. I grew up watching the 90’s TV cartoon series X-men with Bishop being my favorite character. I’ve read virtually every black superhero comic out there.
Although Blade, Spawn, Static Shock and Green Lantern are close to my heart, Black Panther has always been my favorite. The King of Wakanda gave me a different level of pride for myself and for black people growing up. I remember playing as him in the Playstation 2 game Ultimate Alliance back in 2006. I was just excited to see black characters in a major video game.
As a black person with my kind of history, I am beyond proud to see a major film filled with black stars. I saw Spawn (released in 1997, $40 million budget) and I’ve seen Blade 1 (1998, $45 million budget) , Blade 2 (2002, $54 million budget) , and Blade 3 (2004, $65 million budget). Black Panther is the first major marvel black film with a $200 million budget.
An honorable mention would be Men In Black 3 with it’s $215 million budget, but I don’t consider that a true black film (Though, I’m a huge fan of Will Smith). Although Marvel Studios and Disney were the producers, this film is black. The script was written by black people (Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole). It was directed by Coolger. Even the music used was influenced by black people. Most people know Kendrick Lamar produced the soundtrack album, but Ludwig Göransson scored the film. Ludwig is Swedish, but black people have influenced his work evident by his involvement with Get Out, Fruitvale Station, Creed and the track Redbone with Childish Gambino.
When the World Premier happened in January, celebrities and film critics got the chance to review the film and share their thoughts. Most of the reviews that you will find on Black Panther are positive. That’s expected, it was an amazing film. The negative comments and reviews come from individuals who this movie wasn’t make for. If you want a simple action movie with a basic storyline and 40mins worth of action scenes, this movie isn’t for you. If you want a movie with a bunch of white people in leading roles because that’s what you are used to, this movie isn’t for you. If you want a soppy romance harshly crammed in the story and have the iconic scene where too lovers make out in the middle of the world coming to an end, then yeah this movie isn’t for you either.
Who this movie is for are people who love well written characters, a well written story, amazing action scenes, witty funny moments, and films that have a message. Coolger and Cole did a great job with introducing the characters and writing the story. Sure, they deviated from the original source material a little bit, but this was great in it’s own right. The funny moments weren’t half-baked one liners. They were real moments that made sense with how each character would respond to a given situation. The two characters that stood out to me the most were Michael B Jordan’s Erik Killmonger and Danai Gurira’s Okoye.
I love well developed villains. Villains should have motivations that make sense and actions that support with their character. If your character is a bloodthirsty warrior, they shouldn’t go into a long ass monologue before killing someone. They should finish the hero on the spot. Although Killmonger is a monster, he’s a monster that you feel for and understand. He says things that make you think. One of my favorite moments in dialogue with Killmonger comes at the end of the film. He delivers a line that makes you pause for a moment.
Danai Gurira is badass boss and she transfers all of that in her role as Okoye. She completely steals the show. She doesn’t say much, but when she does it becomes a classic moment. Her character is like K-2SO from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Not in the literal sense, but in the sense that she immediately becomes your favorite as soon as she centers the screen. Besides Okoye, this film is full of powerful black women. There are no damsels in distress here. Queen Ramonda is graceful and regal with her white dreads. Shuri is the younger sister of T’Challa and is the tech genius of Wakanda. Each woman in the film could hold her own while still being compassionate and loving. Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia was the embodiment of that.
Black Panther Will Be a Cult Classic
This was a great film, and Thank God. I was super nervous. There was so much at stake, but Ryan Coolger and his team delivered on this opportunity. When you go see this movie, make sure to take a moment to think about the messages behind the film. I believe this will spark some good conversation in the future. If you’re on the fence, just give in to your inter blackness and go see this movie! Honestly, you will not regret the decision. It’s safe to say this movie will be a cult classic for years to come.