There is not one scene in Black Panther where I am not like, “YAAAASSSS!!! BOOK ME A FLIGHT TO WAKANDA!!!!!!!!!!!”. Even when the film is not in Wakanda, you are saying to yourself, “We are going back, right?”. Director, Ryan Coogler said this film is inspired by the whimsical idea of a world where Africa was never conquered. Instead, it was allowed to grow culturally, economically, historically, and socially on its own.
As a Latina, I wish the same “magical idea” had been real for my people, as well. Thus, my heart soars when I see the natural beauty of Wakanda’s resources and environment. You want to flow in its earth and waters, which allows you to believe that this is a place of ancient, cosmic, and spiritual worth. Moreover, thanks to Letitia Wright’s Shuri, its tech game IS ON POINT!. Not only does Wright’s Shuri deliver a blend of noble innocence and fierce strength, but she could put every techie to shame. Even Tony Stark needs to bow down. Still, like any place, Wakanda is not perfect.
2) Social Positivism
Written by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, the duo are smart to show no society can reach perfection. Human beings will always differ in how they define the good of themselves, which means the will also differ in how they define the good of others. This can, especially, be seen through the relationship of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger. While both are incredibly smart, strong, and determined men, their perceptions of and motivations for Wakanda are completely different, which makes them mortal enemies. Alhough it may be easy to think of Wakanda as a visual,“dream-world”, you see that internal problems will always exist. Still, it is when outsiders try to widen and invest in those disagreements that you can turn a country from self-difference to self-destruction.
There will always be an “outsider” trying to give an “inside” opinion, and, unfortunately/ fortunately, the game of international politics is no different. Most Marvel films approach either giant, moral dilemmas like, “Good VS. Evil” or a nation versus its people, which Black Panther does, as well. Yet, it might be because of the times, its views on race feel so powerful and refreshing. The movie makes you observe how foreigners or others’ eagerness to keep the black/ brown community “controlled” and lessened, rather than equalized and well-treated, by creating a world where none of that happened. In Black Panther, Africa was allowed to prosper on its own, and it went really well.
POC’s understand the importance and need to see persons of color in parts that display them as valuable and virtuous. When your people are constantly type-casted in roles of criminals, customer service, or catalyst for a joke, it is easy to feel unseen. Humanity is so much more than those stereotypes, and your community is, as well. Even more, a maid has more spiritual meat and morality then how she is portrayed or her work, but, as a Latina watching the movie industry, I feel like my people’s life could be boiled down to Lestoil. Thus, it was incredibly moving to see a black film of such magnitude display the black community as both human and superhuman. You could not avoid thinking this is the type of social and spiritual uplift needed for the black community in these jarring times. (PLEASE MARVEL DO A LATINA SUPERHERO!!!!!!!!!!!! WHOm IS ALLERGIC TO LESTOIL!!!!!!!!!!)
PROUD FEMINIST ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had the pleasure of meeting Danai Gurira, and was happily relieved that she was a kind, warm human being. I have met a few celebs in my role as “critic”, and, admittedly, had a few disappointing encounters. Although I am friendly, I am really shy, which is why my home is actually a dark corner (lol!). Thus, it breaks your heart when an awesome character is played by a mean person, but Gurira’s Okoye is a BOSS, and she is played by a fabulous human being. After watching her and her group of powerful women protecting Wakanda, Dora Milaje, I almost held a personal, Women’s March.
There are moments throughout Black Panther where you are like, “Yes, you are great T’Challa, but bring back Okoye, Nakia, and Shuri. THANKS!”. I was very surprised at how much I wanted more of them, and, though they did not overshadow T’Challa, I still walked away feeling like they were my heroes. They were gorgeous, smart, and sparkling in ideas and individual value. Moreover, THEY KICKED ASS! I WAS SHOOK!
Overall, Black Panther thrives in its visual excellence/ magnificence, but also the intimacy it brews between its characters and the audience. Black Panther Arrives in Theaters February 16.