Sunday, 18 February 2018

Black Panther - A Review or Tales from a Fangirl

I said to myself, I said, “Girl, you are not going to write a word about Wakanda until,
a.       You stop being so high on life about it.
b.      You’ve had time to reflect on the deeper themes
c.       And you’ve watched it at least twice.
I wasn’t expecting to have seen it twice by today already, but I guess that’s just how the universe works when you’re TOTALLY OBSESSED with something.
So first things first. Oscar awards. The following people should get one:
1.      The person who decided that Okoye was gonna snatch her own wig and fling it in a fight.
2.      The guy with the mouth ornament which was decorated to match his clothes.
3.      Wardrobe design guys.
4.      EVERYONE else.
I kid you not. Even the other Jabari whose job was just to bark…by the way from now on, if anyone comes for me before I send for them…I am totally barking at them. In fact I’m downloading a barking app on my phone to have on standby.
There’s so much to talk about so we’re gonna try to be systematic about it. From here on out, there be spoilers.

Meta Stuff

Okay, there were some things which were just taken straight from real life and inserted seamlessly into the script and made me wish it had really happened like that. We start with #bringbackourgirls when Nakea was off rescuing Nigerian girls and boys kidnapped by Boko Haram. Some girls did actually come back, right? As in, in real life. That was fun to watch in a poignant, wish-it-really-happened-like-that kind of way.
Then there was the reference to Kenya when they were getting into the gambling den. I tell you a huge cheer went around the theatre when Nakea said these are my friends from Kenya (according to the subtitles. But what she actually said was Nairobi). And the fact that T’Challa was mocking her about being a “Kenyan Princess” which she very kind of is, because her dad is a governor…that was very fun. And it’s not that this was the first time Kenya has been mentioned in cinema. It has in several movies from Inception to Eye in the Sky. But this was different somehow. Maybe because the person saying it actually knew where the fuck she was talking about. It wasn’t just a name on a map.
And then the trouble that she’d had with ivory poachers. It’s a real big deal in Kenya and Zimbabwe because these poachers are paying people extremely tempting amounts of money to get them the ivory from elephants and rhinos, and they’re doing so in a most inhumane way. So that’s another real problem that we’re actually dealing with and one would wish there was a Nakea to go kick their asses.

The Hero is not Infallible

When T’Challa went to the ancestors and he told his father, “I’m not ready to be without you.” He made us see him as human, weak, just one of us. In Civil War, he was so super badass, like this huge cat who lets nothing get in the way of his mission. But now, in the beginning of Black Panther he is presented to us as very human. A son missing his father. A lovesick boy still in love with a girl. A big brother with a pain in the ass lil sister. A first born son to a loving mother. He is an all round human being rather than a sort of demi god. It was very clever. It got us invested. It made us worry about him. And then just after that, he’s drained of his power. And he is truly just a man. That’s when he really shows us who he is.
A man who doesn’t give up.
A man who shows mercy.
If you weren’t already in love with him, then this is the point when you realize, you are.
And then Shuri…
Oh my God, such a little sister. Such a last born. You can’t help but recognize either yourself or your youngest sibling in her. That time she recorded T’Challa flying in the air after he kicked his suit…typical sibling gold. She’s my new fave.

Erik Killmonger

The boy who was left behind. I see on social media that this is the guy most African Americans identified with in the movie. I mean but of course. And Michael B. Jordan did an exemplary job of being an Angry Black Man while simultaneously being a vulnerable little boy who got left behind and just wants to know why. He’s the problem that needs solving. He’s the sins of the father that have been visited upon the children. He’s a metaphor.
See, long ago, our ancestors made a decision to start selling people. Slave TRADERS came and BOUGHT slaves from locals. From chiefs, from middle men. The point is, as Africans, our ancestors were also complicit in the slave trade. So T’Chaka, and Zuri together, made a decision and now the chickens have come home to roost. Just like the chickens of slavery are still coming home to roost even today. The children are still paying for the sins of the fathers. The children being white America, trying so hard to hide from its own history of slavery and oppression, brush it under the carpet. It needs a T’Challa to stand up and say “You know what YOU ARE WRONG.”
We all need to admit that we were wrong and then do as Nakea said and not let the sins of the fathers dictate the future of our children.
This message isn’t just for Americans. Look at Jomo Kenyatta so called leader of the Mau Mau. But was he, or did he denounce the mau mau and was thus handed the leadership by colonialists? What lie have we maintained there? And the legacy of that is Uhuru Kenyatta and his Kikuyu supremacists. Germany is still paying for the sins of Adolf Hitler.
The question is, when will we learn to do better?
Is there a possibility of a better, happier ending for the Erik Killmongers?

Women of Wakanda

All the women of Wakanda would have snatched my wig if I ever wore one of those. I saw a tweet about Nakea talking about how for once the love interest was a dark skinned woman. You know what, fuck that shit. For once, the love interest wasn’t just there to BE a love interest. For once, the love interest chose herself over the possibility of being with a man. For once, her career and her life purpose came first. For once, it was the man forgetting his own name when in the presence of the woman. For once…it was the man who rearranged his life to accommodate the needs of the woman. Black Panther showed that women can be loving, nurturing caring beings who nevertheless do their own thing, and slay; and that in doing so, they take away nothing from the man. In fact, they make his life better.
When Okoye told ‘her love’ to put down his weapon or she would kill him…I died of joy and exhilaration. Just because she was in love did not mean her integrity had to be compromised. Did not mean that she had to bend over backwards to accommodate the man’s point of view. I noticed that the theatre became very quiet at this point. I was clapping by myself.  I can’t wait to hear what the misogynists are going to say about Okoye in the coming days.
Did you see how she stopped that Rhino and saved M’mbaku’s life?


There were two breakout stars in Black Panther, Shuri and M’mbaku.
I just love love love everyone’s integrity in this film. Well…apart from Killmonger and them of course. M’mbaku could have killed T’Challa. Nobody would have been any the wiser. But he saved his life instead. He could have taken the purple fruit from Nakea, consumed it and become a Super. Instead, he led them to their fallen king.
He barked at Agent Cross or Ross, whatever his name was.
And he was like, “We shall not have it – oh.” Like seriously. He said it right, he said it correct, and the context was A1. I just wanted to cry tears of extreme and utter joy and happiness and I was seriously like high.
He’s my new fave.

The Concept of Redemption

When T’Challa took Erik to see the sunset did your heart squeeze into tiny pieces and disintegrate? I wished for some way, some way to undo all of it. To truly make it right. To have both of them walk off that cliff and take their rightful place as cousins. As family.
“But how?” I asked myself, “How do we get from here to there?” so much water under the bridge, so much damage had been done by generations. T’Challa offered for him to live, but Erik chose to die. Which would have been the better choice? I don’t know. It just brought home to me the dilemma we currently face as people. We are living with the consequences of things done in the past. How do we get a happy ending? Is a happy ending even possible? Or do we just settle for offering the choice of bondage, or death?
Excuse me while I go burst into tears.


The scene where the car explodes and Okoye goes bobsledding down the hill on the car bonnet and Nakea comes to a stop with just her car seat and steering wheel.

the guy who choreographed these car chases should get a prize and a permanent place in any car chase movie.

1 comment:

Jessica @ The Book Bratz said...

I recently saw this movie and loved it -- I'm glad you did, too! Thanks for a great post and all of your wonderful commentary! :-) -Jessica @ The Book Bratz