From the moment I heard the news that this movie was being made, I was hyped! My anticipation grew when Ryan Coogler was announced as director. I was a huge fan of his work on Fruitville Station and Creed. Once the casting announcements started coming out and I saw one superstar after another, I just knew this was going to be an epic movie! I couldn’t wait! To be honest, I’m not a huge comic movie fan but I do have kids who are, so I see Marvel films all of the time. However this film was more than a superhero movie for me. It was a moment to experience a black superhero on the big screen. The sheer magnitude of a movie with a black director, writer and primarily all black cast set in Africa was something I’ve never seen before. I knew this was going to be a special moment and I was right. I had no idea how special it would be until right now.
Black Panther tells the story of T'Challa. After the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, he returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. The film stars, Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyongo’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Angela Basset, Sterling K Brown, Forest Whitaker and more. This film was brilliantly cast. Written and directed by Ryan Coogler, the film was magnificently shot and the imagery in this film was absolutely breathtaking. From the start of the film, I was awestruck at the costumes, the cultural representations, scenery, the music; Marvel Studios and Ryan Coogler, really focused on the details and the result was this beautiful Afro futuristic land that I immediately felt a part of. It was those little details that truly made this film visually stunning. The film was so rich in Black Culture and traditions; I couldn’t help but feel a huge sense of immense pride watching this film.
Ruth Carter created magic with the costumes for the citizens of Wakanda. Deep and rich colors combined with African prints and textures complimented the make-up and glorious natural hair in the movie. The visuals in this movie are absolutely stunning. Cinematographer, Rachel Morrison, currently nominated for an Oscar for Mudbound, brilliantly captures what Wakanda looked and felt like. The setting in the fictional land of the African nation, Wakanda, left me awestruck. I immediately wanted to move there! This beautiful African land was rich in resources, technologically advanced with lush landscapes, beautiful mountains and towering skyscrapers. The people lived in peace apart from the outside world. In many ways, I wonder if Wakanda is what Africa would have been had it not been colonized and stripped of so much. To the outside world, Wakanda is insignificant. The world believes Wakanda is “just another third world country” full of poverty but Wakanda is the opposite, rich, opulent and full resources. They are a self-sufficient nation that exists in peace and takes care of its own.
Black Panther Weekend
From the moment we learned this film was being released during black history month, WE (black people) were getting ready. We were prepared to take a trip to Wakanda and we would be looking good while there. African Prints, All Black Everything, Afro Futuristic Cosplay, Black Panther Cosplay and Costumes were on full display and my heart swelled with pride. I LOVE US!!!! I saw this movie four times and had four completely different experiences. My first experience was at the official Marvel Studio Chicago Premiere! That’s right, I had an early bird ticket to visit Wakanda and I made sure I was there early to get great seats. Dressed in a Dashiki and black beret, I’d like to think I was “Wakanda Chic” for the evening. Watching the film on the IMAX was the perfect way to enjoy my first visit to Wakanda. I knew it wouldn’t be my last. I needed to visit this majestic place again. The movie goers were primarily bloggers, studio staff and the press. There were lots of African prints that night, head wraps, and flourishing natural hair! My second trip to Wakanda was with my sister friends and I was in All Black Everything for a Fan Night event Thursday Feb. 15th. The diehard fans paid extra for their tickets which included a special commemorative item but we didn’t care. We were together in Wakanda and looking good.
My third night in Wakanda was a family affair. My entire family went together to see the movie and once again, we were dressed in all black with custom tees made by My Diva Boutique! I couldn’t wait for my children to see this movie and hear their thoughts. My boys, ages 15 and 11, were already fans of Marvel and Black Panther. My youngest was Black Panther this past Halloween. They loved Black Panther but also felt the anger and frustration of Killmonger. Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, was so relatable as a black person in America. His anger and frustration valid but displayed in a way that is problematic to those around him. He's so angry and takes that anger out on anyone who is in his path. His characters depth and layers made him a villain you actually understood and related to. They are young but they are still young black men living in America. They made those connections immediately in the movie. In many ways, Killmonger and T'Challa are two sides of the same coin, they just have different approaches to answering the question of helping "outsiders" without creating chaos in one's own house. My daughter, age 13, fell in love with Shuri as I knew she would. She reminded me of my daughter in so many ways. She had quick one-liners and had a brilliant mind. My daughter is a lover of math and science and it felt so good to see black women reflected so completely in this movie. I speak more of this in my post “The Women of Wakanda”. We loved every female character in Black Panther. These are the images our girls need more of! These positive black images gave my children an opportunity to see themselves reflected positively for a change! My fourth and final night in Wakanda was spent on a date. I curled up next to him (thank goodness for those comfy movie seats) and watched with cocktails. It made for great “after movie” conversation and helped this single girl get to know a guy a bit better. The love story in Black Panther was so refreshing. This king was in love with Nakia but she had a destiny and purpose that would keep her away from Wakanda. Not to mention, she was confident, self-assured, and direct. In Black Panther, she was written off as "mouthy" or a "firecracker" or another annoying term given to black women with opinions and voices. In fact, I loved how T'Challa respected her voice and her opinion so much. (Thank you Ryan Coogler for portraying the fullness of Black Women without the negative stereotypes!) I found it interesting that the women in this movie never allowed a relationship with a man to deter their vision and purpose for their lives. Nakia refused to return home because she knew her calling in life and her purpose. T’Challa eventually listens to her vision and finds a way for her to fulfill her purpose while remaining close to him. Message: Love always makes a way. Another female character I loved was Okoye! (Did I mention Black Panther has an army of women who are strong, courageous and just plain dope? WHEW!) Okoye is a warrior who is loyal only to the throne of Wakanda. She is unwavering in her loyalty and makes that crystal clear in a brilliant scene with “W’Kabi” played by Daniel Laluuya. I watched as W’Kabi submits to Okoye and lays his weapons down because in spite of his hurt ego, he knew she was right. The brilliance of the writing in this movie created characters that were multi-dimensional, layered and full of relatable imperfections. The message was so clear. We are all flawed in one way or another but have the potential to rise to greatness in spite of it all.
Welcome to Wakanda, where black women are trusted and respected by black men. PLEASE SEND ME HERE!!!!
Black Panther was more than a superhero movie. It was a movie about love. Love of country, community and of black people around the world. The movie brilliantly touched on the plight of black people around the world and highlighted how African nations were robbed of culture and resources. The movie was subtle yet powerful in it's many messages. To date this movie has grossed $420 million in a single weekend, breaking records, once again proving the power of the black dollar and sending another message to Hollywood about what films black people want to see. We've seen so many movies portraying us as slaves, thugs, hyper sexed, angry and other stereotypes, Black Panther was a breath of fresh air for this movie goer. It was nice to see black people reflected as who I believe us to be; kings and queens capable of achieving greatness.
This movie debut this weekend brought out a brilliant display of love by the black community. Seeing children dressed as superheroes that looked like them, adults dressed in traditional African attire, afro futuristic cosplay and all black fashion filled my heart with such pride. We came out in record numbers, some of us seeing this movie multiple times. We brought our elders, our children, our friends and we celebrated the brilliance and beauty that is us! We did it for the culture….OUR CULTURE and it felt incredible.
Congratulations to the entire cast and crew of Black Panther! You truly did our community proud! Seeing such black excellence reflected on screen was a breath of fresh air for so many of us.
Until next time,
Take care of yourselves and one another!