With all the banter and hype surrounding this movie in the last year, not talking about it feels like a crime even though so much has already been said. If you read my earlier post on the must-see movies of 2018, you’ll know I was looking forward to this movie for a number of reasons.
Black Panther is a Marvel superhero movie based on its Comics series. Set in the fictional city of Wakanda in Africa with predominantly black characters, this movie stars Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker, to name a few I recognized.
You have to be living under a rock not to have heard about this movie. If you have been living under a rock, well, watch the trailer.
Actual Black Dark Skin-Tone Cast
It just stands out from the first scene. I swear it could almost pass for a Nollywood cast. When I was younger, I could never really understand why people of colour with comparatively fair skin were referred to and seemed to be the standard for what black people look-like. I really like that there were a number of actual black actors, like, our really deep brown skin-tone people, dark like me. It was also great to see a coffee-black kinky-haired woman be the love interest in such a big-budget Hollywood movie . Lupita Nyong’o could walk through the streets of Lagos and no one will question her ethnicity. That, in my opinion is Africa not just being represented but taking the center stage.
African Culture and Diversity
I appreciated the effort put in to portraying Africa as diverse, with as many as 11 different cultures represented in the Wakanda tribes. I like how detailed the costumes were, showing African diversity in fashion, including the Zulu headdress, Ndebele Neck Rings, Surma Lip Plates, Namibia’s red ochre paste, called “otjize”, tattoos and body modifications, all of which are part of our rich culture. I also really liked the ceremonial dances and the drums. I think it was the Masai jumping dance from Kenyan. Even the soundtracks were upbeat and African-themed.
Black Girl Power
Unlike most action movies where women play little more than the love interest, this movie featured black women in more significant roles. We had black women showing enormous physical strength, speed, skill and ferocity leading the kings defense and a black woman with intellectual competence heading technological advancements and defense strategy. This movie screams feminism, with African women toe-to-toe with their men.
If you’ve read any of my movie reviews you’ll know I live for picturesque scenes, and this movie has a lot of them. The view of Wakanda at sunrise and from the aircraft is wallpaper-worthy. The trees and the wildlife gave me immediate wanderlust and a craving for adventure. The Royal Challenge scene atop the waterfall gave me an anxiety attack and added to the intensity of the fight scenes in my opinion. The cinematography, especially the final fight was pretty cool. I particularly liked how the camera seemed to have us upside down and then gradually rolled us into position.
One of the very first scenes had young King T’challa in Sambisa forest rescuing what looked to me like our Chibok girls from Boko Haram. Let me say, that one man with vibranium, in 5 minutes did what the Nigerian Army has been unable to do. Perhaps it wasn’t our finest moment but, it is worth mentioning.
The story line was interesting, but more importantly sent a strong political message regarding African leadership, conflict and cultural norms.
Despite being true in African context, I didn’t like that leadership in Wakanda was by bloodline and combat. I’m not a huge fan of politics but I think effective leadership is about much more.
This movie probably wouldn’t have been complete without some conflict. Regardless, the fight between T’Challa and his cousin rubbed me the wrong way. Movies are usually “us versus them”, “black versus white”, “good versus bad”, you get the idea. So, watching brothers fight was really hard even though it is the order of the day.
African history is characterised by civil wars in so many countries; Mozambique, Angola, Sudan, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Chad, Uganda, Rwanda and of course Nigeria. The list goes on. Today, we have tribal and gang wars, and cult clashes for personal or political ambitions.
In my opinion, we are full of love for “the culture” and “the motherland”, wearing statement t-shirt “Proudly African” when we are outside the continent. But do we love and look out for each other as brothers should or are we really just preoccupied with having an individual exotic identity?
Finally, we hold on to norms even when they no longer serve a purpose or meet the needs of the people it was supposed to govern. I think this still affects us in today, with a myriad of social stigmas and practices like female circumcision and killing of albinos and twins. It is important to know when to let go.
Overall, we can do better.
Summarily, it’s an great movie with a balanced portrayal of Africa, it’s people, culture and it’s problems. The script has good plot twits and the dialogue is humorous and entertaining. It’s family friendly; no blood, nudity, sex. Even if you are into carnage and gore, you might still find this movie worthwhile.
Many are of the opinion that it was over-hyped, but let’s be honest, nothing could have lived up the the expectation they created. It’s still a good movie. Get up and go see it!
Have you seen Black Panther? Let me know what you think in the comments!
As always, thank you for reading!
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