Welcome To Wakanda: My Black Panther Experience

So I decided to take a trip. I grabbed my passport and headed out. Where am I going? Why Wakanda, of course! Yep, I went to visit family on Thursday, Saturday and again on Sunday. It felt so great to connect after all these years. Okay, for those of you that have no clue as to what I’m talking about I went to see the new Marvel movie Black Panther!

Quick heads up. This is not a think piece on the film itself, the Marvel Comic Universe, or any other topics that may have been touched on, like the Africans vs African Americans things etc, that have been touched on by the numerous other talking heads out there. If you want to read that then I implore you to go to our friend google and let her search. I’m sure you’ll find that and then some. I’m not here for alladat! At least not today. I’m just here to give my opinion on the film and stuff.

So as part of my ‘stepping up and stepping out’ this year I went to see the new Marvel movie Black Panther. Who am I kidding and why am I trying BS y’all? I was going to go see this regardless! And numerous times at that! I’ve been a fan of T’Challa ‘nem and have read the comics off and on since I was a kid. I was super excited about the possibility of a full length movie for some years now.

Anyway, I went to see it and was blown away! The acting was superb and well really excellent considering this is a super hero movie. Let’s be real, super hero movies tend to lack ummm… depth in the acting department. It’s mostly about the action with the dialogue typically taking second to push the story along and the acting taking last place. Who cares if they can act if there are explosions and big fight scenes, right? I do, but of course I’m probably in the minority.

Let’s talk about the fight scenes. I love that it was mostly all hand to hand combat. None of that throwing a grenade from a plane and flying off with the explosion happening a million feet behind while I safely drink a glass of something. Nope. This was in your face, I can feel and smell what you had for lunch type combat and I loved it! In 3D it was even better. Of course there were some scenes with guns but the hand to hand combat scenes were some of the best I’ve seen in a really long time. I’m talking the last time I saw some Jackie Chan or Jet Li movie type level here. No exaggeration.

The mix of traditional/cultural reference with modern/current day technology was prevalent throughout the film. I love that aspect. Mixing the old with the new for a nice little mash up. The ceremony to proclaim T’Challa as the new king was a great way of showcasing this mesh.

Now, let’s talk about some of the characters that did the damn thing:

Chadwick Boseman – T’Challa/Black Panther – Represented South Carolina to the fullest! If you aren’t familiar with him than you probably haven’t seen a biographical movie about a prominent black figure in the last few years. He’s played them all! Jackie Robinson to James Brown to Thurgood Marshall and now Black Panther! That boy good *Clarence from Coming to America Voice*

Michael B. Jordan – Erik Stevens/N’Jadaka/Killmonger – Okay so He’ll always be Wallace from The Wire to me. He killed it as well. I actually kind of felt bad for his character because what he was saying and wanting to do as far as liberating and helping African Americans with their fight against their oppressors and getting to a better place in life is commendable but his actions of doing it were wrong. In my opinion. He was a villain that you could root for.

Winston Duke – M’Baku – This man stole every scene he was in, effortlessly! Now every woman is fighting over him in real life.

Danai Gurira – Okoye – Badass!

Lupita Nyong’o – Nakia – I think Lupita is such a great actress and she was the perfect choice for this role.

Letitia Wright – Shuri – Smart, witty, powerful with a touch of that teenage angst. The future of Wakanda.

And of course Forrest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and Sterling K Brown did their thing as well. Taking nothing away from them but this is getting a little long. So much black star power!

Okay, so about the movie. Honestly, it was a typical Marvel superhero movie on the surface. It hit all the Marvel points or moments so that it ties into the franchise and leads you to the next film. Great job on that. What made this different, or at least for me, was that I felt a more personal connection to the characters. Could be that the cast was predominantly black so I saw myself on the screen in a a positive light. Could be that the director was young and black. I don’t know but this movie resinated with me and hit me in a way that no other Marvel movie has done before.

One thing I would like to point out. Sure, we’ve had other black superhero movies before and this isn’t even the first black Marvel superhero (Blade) but what this movie does is that it comes along in a time when we need to see a young black superhero. We need to be able to look on the screen and see something that black kids and even adults can aspire to be. No, I don’t have a flower that can give me the strength of a panther or live in a place with vibranium and all sorts of other technology that is far superior than the rest of the world. What I can do is be a beacon of hope and inspiration like T’Challa was for his people. Show mercy even to those that try to destroy me, aka let my haters be my motivators, and also embrace change.

The dialogue in this movie will hopefully open up discussions in our own communities and families. I know I said I wasn’t going to make this into a think piece but the tension between Africans and African Americans is a real thing. Not in all but enough for it to be brought to the forefront. If you don’t feel it’s that way, you can also see it as tension between the black haves vs the black have nots. I’ll save that rant for another day though. Either way it has to stop. We can’t go forward together if we just keep pushing each other back or apart. Divide and conquer is the game and we are losing badly.

If you haven’t seen Black Panther yet what are you waiting for?

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