Written by: Joshua Carreon
Black Panther was a much-anticipated movie, projected to be a hit before it was released, but it was not without controversy. Conservatives declared it would be a vehicle for radical racial politics and liberals feared it would be disingenuous, with its African themes presented as campy or even racist. Furthermore, Feminists were concerned it would present weak or stereotypical female characters; in contrast, there were fears the film would over-focus on flawless superwomen that would eclipse other characters. Finally, there is the primary question of “is it good?” My hope is that this review addresses these concerns and encourages you to see this wonderful film.
Admittedly, I too was worried that the movie would be overtly political, but I was happily mistaken. It was not devoid of potentially divisive topics; topics such as imperialism, the stealing of artifacts, the slave trade, the oppression of blacks, and black power were present, but these were the focus of the villain. In contrast to these divisive themes, the protagonist emphasized unity over division, the value of tradition, and the importance of peace.
As for the theme of the film, it was undoubtedly African, featuring traditional African garb, names, and images, but it did not present them as campy or comical. There was no voodoo or cannibalism, but there were neon green lip plugs paired with African print suits and supersonic spears that could pierce through an entire car. There were no grass skirts, but the queen mother did with wicker what Scarlet O' Hara did with green curtains in Gone with the Wind. In short, the film tastefully updated and exhibited African styles, culture, and architecture.
In terms of the characters, the movie did present us with strong female characters, but also with strong male characters. For female characters, there was the mighty general Okoye who personified loyalty and honor, the queen mother Ramonda who was kind and maternal, and the brilliant scientist Shuri, T’Challa’s sister. As for the men, there was the Black Panther T'Challa himself, who exemplified honor, wisdom, and justice akin to Plato’s “philosopher king,” as well as his father, T'Chaka, a flawed but well-intentioned leader. In short, the movie provided suitable male and female characters that could serve to both inspire girls and demonstrate manhood to boys.
Regarding the film itself, it is first and foremost an awesome action flick but with an immersive well-crafted story that will keep your attention the entire time. It does not reveal the villain or his motivations too soon, it has satisfying and intense action sequences, it has war rhinos, (yes, I said WAR RHINOS) awesome special effects, exhilarating chase scenes, one-on-one battles, and a bad ass Black Panther. The movie fits perfectly in the Marvel universe and will undoubtedly become a hallmark of the lineup, with Black Panther being comparable to Captain America and Iron Man.
In conclusion, this movie was beautifully crafted, entertaining, and true to its themes and presents a non-controversial good old-fashioned comic book movie that everyone can enjoy, unless, of course, you are a DC loyalist!
What did you think about Black Panther? Do you agree with Joshua's take on the movie? Share your thoughts in the comments below or join the discussion on facebook or twitter!