Black Panther: Fist Up or Thumbs Down?

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The anticipation has been ever so palpable since the announcement of this films imminent release. Black People have not been this excited since 2004. I mean can you blame us ? A majority of what we get portrayed as in the mass media is angry, loud, and uneducated. Constant “reality” based reminders that even when we have money we can’t escape being the stereotypes we claim to hate so much yet strive to keep pushing.

And here we finally are, on the edge of releasing a movie that seemed as improbable as that fateful election from what seems like a century ago. Sure there’s been other Black superhero movies but, none that have put us in a higher standing in the World. A king of the World’s most technologically advanced nation based in Africa, A superhero that can stand up to just about any other and he looks like us? The pride swells. But the film, is it any good ?

A film can be made or broken by a few elements. The director, it’s cast and it’s script. All three of these things Black Panther excels at. With Ryan Coogler at the helm the movie was in good hands. He has directed a few fantastic movies (Fruitvale Station, Creed) and has known how to draw great performances out of his cast members. Especially, Micheal B. Jordan whom was in the starring roles of the two previously mentioned Coogler films. He manages to do it here once again but, when your cast consists of heavy hitters like Forrest Whittaker, Angela Basset, Lupita Nyongo, Chadwick Boseman to go along with Micheal B. Jordan it’s hard to miss the mark. So, that’s one phenomenal cast and one fantastic director guiding them (check and check).

The script also manages to shine in many areas. It has excellent pacing. Moving the story along but still giving even the villain enough time for character depth. Paying enough attention to world building but not dwelling too much in one area or another. It also doesn’t get a lot of mention that in a male dominated genre most of the central cast are women and they play no small part in keeping Black Panther grounded and strong. This aspect should be highlighted even more than the surface issue of race is. Speaking of race, the film seems to not mention much of it. Instead, opting to run with the fact that it is a superhero movie that so happens to be in Africa where the King and his countrymen just so happen to be Black. race barely comes in to play in the decisions or actions of the cast. So, script good to go, check.

The one thing I thought could’ve been done differently is that the panther god Bahst that gives T’Challa strength in the comics could’ve been incorporated in to the film. That would give the movie a different religious element maybe Disney/Marvel wanted to stay away from but, it makes it seem as though anyone can be the Black Panther the way they went about it. Small detail I know but it bugged me enough to mention.

Black Panther is a movie that in more ways than one does things no other Marvel film has done before it. It, puts a shining face of self love and hope front and center on the silver screen for Black folks to enjoy and share with others who are our friends. That there is a market for stories that uplift and show us at our best instead of perpetuating the stereotypes we’ve been held to for so long. It also, shows the World that men are lost without solid, strong women behind them no matter how powerful they become. Black Panther means something for our present and future in Hollywood. I give it a perfect 5 out of 5.

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