Black Panther film – some overexcited fanpersoning

Just to make it very clear, this is not a nuanced review. This is me being really excited and wanting to tell everyone about the excitement. I would not attempt a nuanced review of this film, because I know there are a lot of things I would miss or not fully understand due to my background.

So I went to see Black Panther this week, and HOLY SHIT!

Okoye Black Panther

It was so good. SO GOOD! I’m gonna have difficulty articulating, because it was just so exciting, but we’ll have a randomly ordered list okay? Great. SPOILERS!

Worldbuilding

WAKANDA

I’ve been hanging around in the MCU for a while, and it’s been fun and there’s lots to play with, but bloody hell Wakanda! Wakanda was really really exciting. It was visually exciting, and a lot of work had clearly gone into it. There’s this thread about the costume design, which is really interesting so GO READ IT. The costumes stood out in an awesome way, and I liked reading that thread and getting a better idea of where the inspiration came from. Then we’ve got this concept art by Till Nowak which took my breath away. And some stills from the film. It’s better in the film, with everything moving and alive and EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE so good!

The background of Wakanda was given to us as an animated story told by T’chaka EDIT 2/2/2018 I was wrong, it is N’jobu talking to his son  at the beginning of the film, and I really enjoyed that. Wakanda has managed, through isolation, to avoid colonisation. They are extremely technologically advanced, and the rest of the world thinks they are a deprived third-world nation. I feel like, as I’ve not watched Civil War, there was some context that was missing for me. But I was able to fill that in. They talk Xhosa on screen (subbed). The soundtrack is also perfect (and I have every intention of buying it), and the whole just comes together into this incredible, fully-realised, complicated awesome world. I would be more than happy if all Marvel films from now on were set in Wakanda please, with Thor films allowed as long as Taika Waititi is directing them. I was completely blown away.

Awesome women everywhere

So the story is about T’challa, played excellently by Chad Boseman, becoming king after his father dies, and it does amazing and interesting things with that which were amazing and made me cry. HOWEVER, the women stole the show for me. There were so many women! Marvel films usually have about two-point-five women per film, usually white, young, and skinny. Which is, yanno, boring. Black Panther had SO MANY WOMEN!!!! I recommend this article for some interesting thoughts about how in Black Panther the men are carrying the emotional struggles of the film and the women get to be intellectual and ideological.

Anyway, list of women:

Queen Ramonda

Queen RamondaQueen RamondaQueen Ramonda, played by Angela Bassett, is the late T’chaka’s wife, and the mother of T’challa and Shuri. She gets to be a strong presence throughout the film, and is generally fantastic and wonderful and is NOT a young woman, and is portrayed with incredible dignity. She hikes up a damn mountain in the snow to go bargain with the very isolationist Jabari tribe when T’challa is thought to be dead. This is about two (?) weeks after losing her husband; this woman is hardcore and wonderful.

Shuri

Shuri and Tchalla

Shuri and NAkia

T’challa’s little sister Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, is sixteen and a technology genius who could run circles around Tony Stark without even trying. She’s in charge of the tech development for ALL OF WAKANDA and she makes amazing things and names them after puns.  She interrupts T’challa’s crowning ceremony to tell him that her outfit is uncomfortable. She’s funny and smart and jokes around with her bro, and then also hikes up a freezing mountain to negotiate and then gets in on a battle with sonic gauntlets which she invented while talking a slightly useless CIA agent through how to use their jets. She is made of awesome. LOOK AT HER AWESOMENESS!

Okoye

Okoye

Okoye, played by Danai Gurira, is a force of fucking nature. She’s the implacable general, in charge of the Dora Milaje (all women fighting force, roughly equivalent to secret service in nature I think). And damn, this woman! She is calm and collected and will kick the ever-loving shit out of anyone threatening the king. There is a car-chase where she SPEARS A CAR FROM ON TOP OF ANOTHER CAR! And she’s a great character who takes her job very seriously and still occasionally cracks a joke. And there are so rarely women characters like this, who get to have strength and loyalty as their tenets. She is fascinating in that she is loyal not to T’challa personally, but to the throne. Regardless of her personal feelings, she sees her job as serving the throne and sticks to it. And when it turns out that T’challa is alive and therefore the kingship challenge wasn’t settled, that is when she changes her mind.

Nakia

Nakia

I could not find a gif of her getting her fight on, but she is mighty competent! When we meet Nakia, played by Lupita Nyong’o, she is trying to rescue a group of kidnapped Nigerian(?) girls. She is a Wardog, which is the Wakandan name for spies sent out into the rest of the world. She speaks multiple languages, can handle herself in a fight, is not afraid to disagree with T’challa about things (mainly Wakanda’s isolationism). She’s also his ex, but unlike in many films where that would be her entire personality she gets to branch out beyond that and be her own person. And she also, along with Shuri and Queen Ramonda, hikes up a damn freezing mountain to negotiate with the Jabari tribe after having got Shuri and Ramonda to safety, and then SNUCK BACK INTO THE DAMN PALACE AND NICKED SOME OF THE MAGIC SUPERHERO MAKING HEART HERB! Also she doesn’t shack up with T’challa, she goes and opens an embassy thing. And she has a really amazing dynamic with Okoye where they get to disagree but still respect each other.

All the Dora Milaje

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA they are so awesome! Also I like to imagine that at some point in the future Valkyrie/Scrapper 142 as played by Tessa Thompson will come across the Dora Milaje and that would be both amazing and bittersweet.

Dora Milaje

Killmonger and Dora Milaje

I don’t think I’ve missed anyone. Seriously, awesome women everywhere!

Plot and themes

I’m trying not to spoil everything, but you may want to skip this section! The plot was fascinating: they set you up with who you thought would be the main villain, and a really obvious story development. And then they did something else entirely and the film became not about Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) who stole vibranium and was, to be fair, a pretty wonderful villain whenever he was onscreen, but about Erik Killmonger/N’jadaka, the forgotten cousin of T’challa left to grow up in Oaklands, California. It becomes about the rage of those left behind and taken away, about this man who is furious with the world (and has every right to be) trying to come home to a place that by right he should have belonged. And suddenly Wakanda has to deal with the fact that their isolationist policy, which protected them from colonisation and all that awful awful fuckery that Europe inflicted on the entire continent (and of course they needed to protect themselves) also left people behind and it’s coming back to haunt them. There’s an incredible emotional struggle between Killmonger/N’jadaka (Michael B Jordan) and T’challa, and their different beliefs and experiences that was genuinely painful.

I can’t actually begin to cover all the themes etc, because they are big and complicated and I don’t think I know enough to really get into them, but damnit WATCH THIS FILM! Also, the final fightscene between Killmonger and T’challa takes place in a literal underground railway. Just just just FEELINGS

Action Sequences

Killmonger and Tchalla

I loved the fighting in this film! It was all amazing and there were so many different types of combat that it stayed interesting! You had these one on one battles with swords and shields, a massive car-chase, multi-person brawls, and a fuck-off battle that had jets with laser guns, the Dora Milaje, two Black Panther superpowered dudes, sonic Nakia Black Panther postergauntlets, the weapons that Nakia was using which I don’t know the name of (tell me if you know – there’s a piccy), spears, besotho blankets that contained energy shields, and more than one wartrained rhinoceros. I repeat, WAR RHINOCEROS! It was great.

Other great stuff

  • M’baku, played by Winston Duke, was just brilliant. His character was a lot of fun.
  • All the shots of different bits of Wakanda.
  • Shuri being awesome.
  • The whole scene where T’challa is being crowned is visually stunning and fantastic, and the music was incredible.
  • Having non-American, non-European accents as the main accent in a film.
  • Have I mentioned Shuri?
  • “Coloniser” as an insult.
  • The amazing spiritual visions that both T’challa and N’jadaka/Killmonger had – they were so beautiful and packed with emotion.
  • WAR RHINOCEROS!
  • Everett Ross:(to T’challa) “Does she speak English?” Okoye: “When she wants to.”

About the only thing that would have made me like this more were if there were some queers (and again it seems as though at one stage there were going to be some because Okoye was going to have Ayo, played by Florence Kasumba, as her lover, but Marvel backed down. AGAIN. EDIT 06.10.2018 To be clear, as far as I am aware Okoye is not queer in the comics. In the comics, Ayo is queer, and has a relationship with another Dora Milaje called Aneka. And also to be clear, I don’t read a lot of the comics meaning my comics knowledge is often secondhand, so it is likely that there are other characters in the MCU who should by all accounts be queer and aren’t. Loki is the first that springs to mind. AND also I did like Okoye and W’kabi’s relationship, and how that played into their characterisation. Other than that, GO GO GO GO SEE THIS FILM!


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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kevan Manwaring
    Feb 28, 2018 @ 17:27:23

    That about sums it up! :0) What a blast! and important in so many ways.

    Reply

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