Black Panther is A Better Movement than Movie
I know this is super, super late! I’ve had so many hours to ponder how I felt about the movie overall after watching nearly three weeks ago.
When the movie finished and the credits fluttered down once more after the after-credits -scene (…..After that), I couldn’t but help feel disappointed – oh not at the movie, but at the expectations I had of the movie. This is not a review by the way, rather an exploration of the phenomenon that is, Black Panther. If I was asked what I thought, I would say I really enjoyed the movie! It had such an interesting world and believable characters with identifying motivations. Needless to say, it failed to blow me away as a complete package the way the Winter Soldier did. Thanks to some questionable CG and horrible plot conveniences (I’m looking at you magical all-powerful Vibranium) it failed to be amazing, but Black Panther is providing something different than Winter Soldier so they tend to be separate conversations.
My reasoning for writing this post is to express a simple and obvious thought: Black Panther is a better movement than a movie.
Before the movie released I often battled with believing in the notion that this movie will “change” anything. If it were to change something, what would it be? Certainly couldn’t change this nearly viral lack of cultural identity in our black youth thus having them resort to either anything or nothing at all, in droves, and yes I do believe that is a problem. However, I think on a more simple and inspirational level it does change things. Many people often refute the idea of this being the first black superhero, and well they’re right. We’ve had Spawn, played by Michael Jai White in 1997. A year later we were gifted Blade, played by Wesley Snipes which still holds up in that campy way. Now dig this, Spawn is strictly out for revenge with no real desire to help others. Blade is strictly focused on killing vampires akin to someone needing to get rid of pests. Two comic heroes with an African-American lead, but they lacked one vital thing, family appeal. I mean that in two primarily different ways.
These movies were both rated R, with a strong dark feel too it. I mean one literally visited hell so it doesn’t get much darker than that. These are the movies that most parents won’t take their kids to see. The parents don’t think about gifts for their kids and say, “yeah I need to get my son a Spawn action figure.” Then again many parents don’t really care what toys look like. I believe the idea of a selfless hero, in which the whole family can watch makes this movie a first of it’s kind.
The other meaning is… well, it shows a black family, being a family. These were one of those things I noticed during the movie that I felt it was so refreshing but then I thought, “Why is this so refreshing”? This was done mainly through T’challa and Suri’s sibling relationship. It just felt real! He had his mother who knew she was a mother but also knew that her son was a king. None of this baby-boy aptitude on display (no I don’t hate the movie Baby Boy) but it was a functional family for the most part. The moments between a brother and sister, or a father and son, then a son whom still loves his father but is disappointed in him. These moments are what made the movie work for me personally.
I began to feel humbled and thankful that I saw a generation where kids have a Skywalker of their own skin.
A hero who for the people, a hero who needs the people, and the hero who in the end, is a human being. I still don’t think any brothers going down the wrong path will change after this movie (maybe some will) but I for one, can see a change. It’s a call to action to those brothers/sisters who are doing well. The ones who are going to film school and were planning on just making media and not using it to reach out. What could we do with our arts to reach the kid that lost his father? What could I have written or drawn that would have helped Kilmonger to stop even for second and rethink. This movie was never really about “BLACK PEOPLE! Stop being niggas,” but rather, “For those who know better… Knowing isn’t enough anymore”. We need to share, we need to educate others who are still stuck out there in the death and hatred. Didn’t mean to get all preachy but to be honest, that’s what I heard from the movie: Just being better won’t make things better, it’s time to do better, it’s time to share better thoughts and ways.
As of now, Black Panther has passed the billion dollar mark and is still going strong.
So at the very least, I believe we as a whole – all races – told Hollywood that our black leads don’t have to be in the dark, they don’t have to be sidekicks or negro versions of established white heroes. They can be their own, and we will still see them, we want to see more, and because money talks more than any speech, I expect we will see plenty more.