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Black Panther Review

March 22, 2018

Black Panther isn't my favorite MCU film. It IS the most important because it challenges its majority white American audience to see things from a perspective they are unaccustomed to. It might be tough to relate on a personal level with Killmonger or T'Challa, but that's not a bad thing either. Just because a movie makes you think, or see things from another perspective isn't bad. I loved that this was a movie with a world and characters unfamiliar to me. I love even more the fact that there are kids out there that will see this movie and have their imaginations accelerated to the point of encouraging them to become filmmakers or writers much like Star Wars did for young white kids in the 70s. Something that made me feel similarly was Nnedi Okorafor's Book of Pheonix. It was so steeped in african culture, yet the character was genetically created in a lab. Okorafor doesn't wash  the characters into a homogenized American aesthetic, and neither does Coogler. Black Panther never feels like an American culture in Africa. This is an amazing fictional world unaffected by British Colonialism or American Culture-Colonialism. They have their own traditions and beliefs that are under utilized in conventional fiction. Yet, they never claim Wakanda to be a Utopia. T'Challa realizes that traditions are imperfect and need to evolve as cultures change. There's a big debate between the characters whether or not they should reveal the true Wakanda to the world. The irony is that if they had kept open borders all those years ago, the Imperial Machine and Slavery might have stunted their growth as much as their neighboring tribes/countries. Black Panther is a movie that welcomes its shades of grey. Heroes and Villains have their own beliefs that are right from a certain point of view. That is what makes this movie such a success. The characters feel realistic, they don't make decisions to simplify the plot. There's careful reasoning behind each and every moment. T'Challa is as important to the MCU as Tony, Thor, or Cap. He's a character that has to consider his people before himself. Tony is burdened by his potential for failure, but not beholden to anyone. Steve is driven by his code, but the only person he puts in the line of fire are those that volunteer. Neither charcter have to deal with the repercussions politically that T'Challa does. Danai Gurira as Okoye is as fantastic here as she is on The Walking Dead, question is who wins in a Death Battle: Okoye or Michonne?  Re-watching Civil War it's hard not to notice the chemistry between Romanov and T'Challa. When you find out Nakia is a spy it makes sense why T'Challa took a liking to Black Widow. That's not to say Nakia is a copy of the russian spy, I simply mean to imply that there's a familiarity T'Challa has to the world of spies that our other heroes lack. Killmonger is so great because his anger is palpable. His motivations are very similar to Kylo Ren, in that he's a young man that feels ostracized from his birthright and the traditions that have burned him. The biggest example of that motivation adn struggle is when he talks with his father on the mystical plains. His father still wants Erik to be a part of Wakanda. He wants his son's love and forgiveness, and in return Killmonger gives him anger and resentment. It's a heartbreaking moment, but an improtant scene that helps demonstrate the brewing rage Killmonger has possessed for so long. Much like Wakanda, fiction can't stay in its bubble, and I hope more people are encouraged to let their creative voices be heard based on what they saw from this movie.

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