Wakanda Forever: Part 1 – What Our Generation Needs
Black Panther is the movie that our generation needs right now. It is a movie of historic proportions. I am not going to give away any spoilers in this review. But before I get into the film, let me share an experience:
A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
In 2003 I visited Ghana, West Africa. Actually, it was my very first time on the continent and when my feet left the airplane steps and touched African soil, I suddenly had a feeling I couldn’t explain… I was “home.” How could I feel “home” in a place I had never physically visited before? I still don’t know how to explain it. Perhaps there’s something in the collective consciousness of a people who were stripped from their motherland. But, while sitting in the theater watching Black Panther, there were scenes which caused me to have a feeling very similar to that first visit to Ghana.
This isn’t the first superhero movie that featured a black protagonist. Blank Man, Meteor Man, Blade and Hancock are four previous films which have tackled this genre. However, the first two came from a “campy” comedy perspective. The third came more from a horror vantage point. And the fourth was more of an “anti-hero” motif with huge character flaws.
Black Panther is the first superhero feature film to not only get the full “Hollywood treatment” but to tackle the genre head on while, also depicting Africans and African Americans as a people of great character, complexity and intellectual, physical, spiritual and technological capability. This film also presented a number of women who are strong and powerful in their position, intellect and physical strength.
IMPACT OF THE MOVIE
Black Panther is well written, crafted, acted and executed. It is visually stunning and packed with amazing visual effects and action which makes for great entertainment! It is no doubt, an excellent addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe which is leading up to Avengers: Infinity War later this May. But beyond that sits a rare gem. This film displays what can happen when people of color are provided the freedom, opportunities and resources to tell stories which are true to them–not just the rehashed stereotypical stories of pain and loss and oppression.
While Black Panther does have characters who have experienced pain, loss and oppression (like Killmonger), the film balances that out by displaying a side of the African/African-American experience which has been lost down through the years. One of power, creativity, honor and loyalty. While we, as a people, may have been scarred by a series of tragic events – (transatlantic slave trade, slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, race riots, economic oppression, infiltration of drugs, educational inequality, etc…) - forced on us by those who wish to oppress us, we do have the power to not allow tragedy to define our existence. It may inform us, but together it does not have to define us.
IT IS THE QUESTIONS THAT DRIVE US
Black Panther raises many questions in my mind. Here are a few:
*What would have happened if European colonizers did not strip the African continent of many of its precious resources? How do we learn from the past in order to secure our future?
*What happens when we choose to keep deep secrets instead of confronting the truth?
*What happens when we choose to act from a place of pain and loss? What are the dangers of giving into despair? How can we overcome the pain and loss we experience in our lives?
*Which narrative will we choose to believe? The one written by oppressors or what history shows to be true?
*How can you protect what is yours while helping others to be free?
I am still processing my thoughts on the film. What moved me the most was the father/son relationship between T’Challa and his father and Killmonger and his father. And it raised the question in my mind: What happens when we are disconnected from our heritage (either by willful ignorance or outside interference)? And how do we regain connection with community?
This is Part 1 of my review. Much more to come! Go see the film. You will not be disappointed. Thank you Marvel Studios! #WakandaForever #BlackPanther #LongLiveTheKing