Tag Archives: Forest Whitaker

Black Panther movie

My Thoughts on the Underlying Message from Black Panther

Black Panther movieBlack Panther. The Hollywood version of when America got a Black president. It’s a movie that has captured the lion’s share of Black Americans attention for the past month at least. Since opening night, Black people have been at movie theaters dressed in their finest African garb, faces painted, sometimes playing drums, dancing, even conducting rituals, and otherwise culturally celebrating right in the lobby! We are excited about seeing a high budget film with a dominantly Black cast, Black writers, and Black director (even if not from a Black film company). No, it’s not the first time a Black comic character has been brought to the big screen, but this time the title character is a rich powerful king, not a demon (Spawn) or half vampire (Blade). In addition, and likely more importantly, Black women are integral heroes as well. I have noticed some make shaming comparisons between the support for the fictional hero Black Panther’s movie vs. the historic hero of freedom Nat Turner’s recent movie, Birth of a Nation. That’s an important comparison. It is too rich to completely discuss here, but let us look at the smear campaign launched against its writer and producer, Nate Parker, right before its release. Two things were brought up. First, an accusation of rape from his past that had already been resolved, and, second, the fact that he has a white wife. Amongst Black people, those two things would be more of a trigger to the women than to the men. Black women are also the most likely to go support a historical Black film. Which if you are astute enough, you will see that Black Panther is very much directed more at Black women than any other superhero film to date. Aside from that, I have heard many Black people say they are wary of slave movies, even if it is one of revolution.

Understandably, Black Panther answers an innate desire in Black people to enjoy stories of themselves as brilliant, resourceful heroes with superior qualities and deserving of respect. Therefore I can give props to Marvel and Disney because of acquisition, for being the first to take advantage of the “natural movement” and create a product that accurately targets the Black media consumer without cultural blowback or accusations of insensitivity. However, Disney has a history of including the occult and subliminal messaging in their products, so I had to watch carefully. I have been concerned that, beneath all the beauty that causes us to celebrate this film accomplishment, there will be subtly inserted elements to cause emotional/mental dissonance of some sort. I found some of course. For this article, I will discuss only one.

Black Panther movieThe main antagonist, Killmonger, seems to have garnered as much affection from the audience as any of the protagonists, if not more. The character has great lines that are delivered with ample charisma. Michael B. Jordan is a very capable actor (and eye candy). Apparently, there is a general empathy for his character, because we can identify with his passionate anger at oppression and injustice, and because he sounds and moves like a Pan-Afrofuturist revolutionary. All of that being backed up by the tragic plot twist of his father dying at the hands of his uncle, the previous king of Wakanda, triggers our sense of Ma’at (karma). He’s the only main character who gets to drop slang in our Black American voice. He’s the king’s cousin, but he reminds us of our cousin! All of these things have given him full access passes to our hearts. That is why he is probably the most psychologically damaging aspect of this film.

For the appropriate tone, consider the thoughtfulness put into featuring strong Black women at all levels of power. At every crucial point in the movie, a Black woman was vital to success. So it goes without saying at this point that a large part of why this movie is so beloved is because of how prominent the image of the powerful Black woman is throughout this film, on and off screen. Therefore it should have been the most vile offense that the first person Killmonger personally killed on-screen was his own [assumed] girlfriend, who was also his accomplice! We never even learned her name. Goodbye down ass Black woman with a nice twist out. Once he became king, he also choked out an elder Black woman for not wanting to burn her garden of sacred super herbs. We love how fierce and proud the all-female Dora Milaje are, and yet we quickly forgot how he cut one of their throats while she was defenseless. He wounded Nakia and was a millisecond away from killing Shuri. See the pattern I’m pointing out?? He was the ONLY main character to hurt and kill women in the movie. How does this slip past us to the point that I’ve heard, “he wasn’t really even a villain,” even from women who are usually vigilant against misogyny. Remember how we enjoyed his movie entrance by talking that talk to a woman, right until she succumbs to the drug he put in her drink.

Even with me pointing out all that, I still say he is a worthy character and had excellent potential for redemption, or even further villain development. In the comic book, he didn’t give a damn about the diaspora, he was just a crazy killer. Why was he killed at the end of the movie then? The very nature of comic books is that villains are defeated but don’t always die. In the Thor series, Loki’s treacherous ass has escaped death in multiple movies. Why did Killmonger have to die then, when it was clear that he was portrayed as motivated by deep hurt but admirable? We are to accept his death at the end as inevitable, because of the already legendary and beloved line he dropped about being like his ancestors who jumped into the ocean rather than accept bondage. But why did he even have to go to prison forever? We can heal Bucky from being the Winter Soldier but can’t get N’Jadaka out of Killmonger? Or was there no one in Wakabi’s tribe who still sympathized and could have saved him at the end? No, I think the obvious answer is “death to any Black revolutionary who fights back against oppression (without western backing).” So we are set up to love this “Black freedom fighter” only to lose him at the end, echoing the psychological terrorism of assassinating so many historical figures.

So yes, I root for the benefits that can come from this kind of film. However, I always invite my ancestors to watch Hollywood films with me and help with discernment. I’m willing to enjoy a movie and still call it out if it has unhealthy elements too. We grown.

Black Panther movie

My Reaction to the Black Panther movie aka Spoiler Alert!

Black Panther movieThe Black Panther movie released this weekend in all of it’s Black Excellence glory. It was worth the wait and the estimated $218M it earned during its opening weekend, shattering records and telling movie studios to STFU about Black movies not busting box offices wide open. More on that and my thoughts about the deeper storyline to come (skip to below the bullet points), but first my reactions to some of the Blackest moments and lines in the film. Ryan Coogler has a way of capturing the essence of Blackness, especially with Michael B. Jordan, from Fruitvale to Creed and now with Black Panther. The writers did an excellent job at including colloquialisms and mannerisms specific to Black culture and the actors did a phenomenal job of bringing them to life.

  • I loved the irony of the newscaster calling Wakanda a “third world country” which made me ask wtf defines a third world country to begin with?
  • Okoye (Danai Gurira): “Don’t freeze when you see her.” T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman): “What are you talking about? I never freeze.” Then he freezes, LMAO. Lupita has that effect, hunny.
  • Shuri (Letitia Wrightgives T’Challa a playful middle finger while walking away and Ramonda (Angela Bassett) calls her on it without even seeing it. Black Mothering at its finest…
  • Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordantells the lily-white museum director, “Don’t worry, I’m going to take it off of your hands,” referring to the Wakanda artifact. MJB is consistently Black as hell…
  • The boat ride to the ceremony with Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) giving us a taste of #danceislife deserves mention.
  • When T’Challa walked into the water and saw his nation rooting for him. That was powerful on multiple levels. We all need to be rooting for each other like that.
  • When Zuri (Forest Whitakerasks if anyone of royal blood wishes to challenge for the throne and Shuri raises her hand only to ask them to wrap it up because her outfit is too tight. Typical Black sibling trolling.
  • Ramonda yelling to T’Challa “SHOW HIM WHO YOU ARE!” during the challenge with  M’Baku (Winston Duke). Babbbbbbyyyy, I felt that in my bones. That needs to be a daily affirmation.
  • I loved how every ritual was ancestrally-based.
  • T’Challa telling Nakia she would make a great Queen if she wasn’t so stubborn (I almost threw my boot at the screen), for Nakia to respond that is WHY she would make a great Queen. T’Challa just wanted her to admit that she wanted to be his Queen.
  • Shuri’s consistent afrobeat playing throughout her lab. *hearts*
  • Shuri yells “WHAT ARE THOSE” to T’Challa’s traditional sandals. She then gives him his new soundproof footwear and says she calls them… wait for it… sneakers… get it? LMAO! THEN she tells him about his new suit design and he’s all my suit is fine and she says, “Functional, but old. If people are shooting at me, wait, let me put on my helmet.” She had jewel after adorable jewel. She tells him to strike the suit and he boots it across the room and she yells at him for messing up her lab, but informs him of the suit’s design and that it absorbs and then redistributes kinetic energy. She takes out her camera, for research purposes, and tells him to strike the suit again only to howl laughing when he goes flying across the room when he is blasted back by his own force.
  • Okoye said she couldn’t wait to get her wig off of her head and that it was a disgrace. Shots fired?
  • Nakia in the green dress in the Korea scene. Have mercy.
  • Black Panther movie
  • Agent Ross’s ole bitchass needed to be popped in the mouth for how he was speaking to T’Challa at the table. Find some respect.
  • Okoye pointed out that no weapons were allowed yet yielded her weapon less than 60 seconds later when the fight broke out! Black women always prepared for EVERYTHING. That jump down from the 2nd level was the first of her notable jump scenes.
  • Shuri’s excitement when the car populated in her lab. Adorbs.
  • The quick shot of Nakia driving barefoot was a great attention to detail since she lost her shoe when she used it as a weapon in the fight.
  • When their car is blasted by Klaue, Okoye flips, grabs her spear in mid-effin-air, and lands on a piece of the car. Then Nakia comes hilariously sliding in with just the seat and steering wheel.
  • Can we talk about how T’Challa could’ve ended Klaue and Killmonger wouldn’t have had his dead body as leverage if we weren’t in such a digital age? Oh ok.
  • Okoye’s disdain for taking the shot Agent Ross into Wakanda to be healed, and Shuri saying, “great, another broken white boy for us to fix, this is going to be fun.” Classics.
  • Killmonger showing his Wakanda tattoo and killing Klaue made me smile.
  • When they revealed that Young T’Chaka (Atandwa Kaniand Young Kuri (Denzel Whitaker) left baby Erik after killing his father, N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown), I was livid. Though we are ultimately responsible for our actions, we cannot ignore the roots of our issues. People keep referring to Killmonger as the villain, but, in my opinion, he killed the main villain. He’s just a brother who needs some healing and therapy to learn to deal with his past and how to properly bring about the change he wants to see for his community.
  • Shuri to Agent Ross: “Don’t scare me like that colonizer!” when he woke and started asking her where he was. According to the internets, wypipo will officially be referred to as colonizers until further notice.
  • Black Panther movie
  • Killmonger points out there are 2 billion people that look like them struggling around the world and that Wakanda had the tools to LIBERATE them all. T’Challa remarks that it is not their way to use vibranium for they are not judge, jury, and executioner for people that are not their own and Killmonger then he says “Not your own? But didn’t life start right here on this continent? So aren’t all people your people?” JEWELS JUST FALLING FROM HIS LIPS!
  • Killmonger nonchalantly to Ramonda: “Hey Auntie.” By far tied for my favorite line of the movie. He makes the challenge for the throne and Zuri says it’ll take weeks. Killmonger says I don’t need the whole nation, I just need him. That was real. I also lowkey enjoyed watching him fight T’Challa . It was like he had the power of every oppressed souled within him. His pain was relatable. Hated that it was targeted towards his own blood, but that was also real. We usually strike out to those closest to us. Him having them burn all of the ancient flowers was egotistical and short sided, but also a key part of the character.
  • When Killmonger sits on the throne, he points out that where he’s from, Black people start revolutions without the firepower and resources to fight their oppressors. More jewel dropping…
  • Okoye’s face when W’Kabi agrees with Killmonger…
  • M’Baku to Agent Ross: “You cannot talk one more word or I will feed you to my children. Just kidding, we are vegetarians.” The vegan in me howled with laughter. Plus he made him shutup initially by overpowering his voice with their chants. Then he made Agent Ross turn away during the ritual. He won 4 times (presented the preserved T’Challa) in under 4 minutes.
  • I appreciate T’Challa realizing that his father was wrong for both leaving Killmonger and for turning his back on the Africans worldwide and for calling him out on it when they meet once again in the ancestral realm.
  • Killmonger: “All that challenge shit is over with. I’m the king now.” Hood af, lol!
  • W’Kabi so quickly fighting with Killmonger made the whole theater suck their teeth. Will Focus gon say he’s still in the sunken place. I DIED! LMAO
  • Killmonger got Black Panther suited. That shit was sexy.
  • We all felt Okoye’s pain when Killmonger killed one of her fellow Dora Milaje. *sad face*
  • Black Panther movie
  • Will also brought up a good point and asked where were the other 3 tribes during this fight before M’Baku’s tribe showed up to assist the Dora Milaje against W’Kabi and his tribe?
  • When W’Kabi and his techno rhino were charging towards M’Baku but Okoye stood between them and the rhino kissed her. All powerful. Then W’Kabi asked if she, his love, would kill him, and she said, for my nation, absolutely. POWERFULLLLLL.
  • So I was highkey pissed that T’Challa took Killmonger to look at the damn sunset instead of to Shuri, but later that was put into perspective for me (read below).
  • T’Challa: Maybe we can still save you…” Killmonger: “Why? So ya’ll could just lock me up? Nah. Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships. They knew death was better than bondage.” CHILLS. That line right there spoke volumes. VOLUMES!
  • T’Challa buying the block. Just. Yes.
  • The kids wanting to break apart Shuri’s ship to sell for parts. So real, lol. We need that community bridge building though.

Black Panther movieThere has been lots of debate about seeing a white studio production and where our dollars could have gone and even about the characters parallels to sections of society, but I personally feel like it’s all chest-inflated poppycock. 99.9% of movies that we love and hold as staples in our society are produced by white studios simply because, well, WE DON’T OWN ANY YET. Keyword, yet. So Malcolm X, Selma, Hidden Figures, Thurgood Marshall, Coming to America, and the likes that are so near and dear also fall under that umbrella, but we still went to see them in droves. Could we have collectively used that money and built a small town with our roughly 37% contribution to the $218 million? Most likely, but we already know we’re still combating centuries of conditioning and teaching ourselves to love ourselves and each other. So chill. It’s a process, and this movie is a major part of that process because representation matters. Seeing ourselves and what could be matters. Sometimes people need to see it to even know it’s possible.

Black Panther movie

Yes, this is in Africa.

The visuals and quotables definitely woke up some of the sleeping and even smacked a few people into loving themselves and reframing their thoughts on Africa. Yes, Wakanda is fake, but Africa’s beauty has never been a lie. It’s just been retold and intentionally hidden from the masses, especially Africans born in america, in attempts to continuously divide and conquer. This is touched on via Killmonger’s story. His story simultaneously parallels the american Hood King and the Revolutionary. He grew up without his parents, more specifically finding the dead body of his father. He had to learn and grow on his own which resulted in his genius-level intellect and thirst to avenge his father via combat and claim his spot on the throne. Via his research, he learned of the advancements of Wakanda and grew resentment because they had the capacity to liberate Black people globally, but never bothered to. He wanted to ‘stick it to the man,’ and rightfully so.

Black Panther movieKillmonger’s passion was in the right place, but his methods wouldn’t have fully resulted in the outcome suitable for most, mostly due to his dictator ways. T’challa had to come to learn that peace and hiding weren’t the way either. With their collective intellect, Shuri’s technological advancements, and Wakanda’s wealth and resources, they could have liberated Africans globally, but pride was a key factor in Killmonger having to die. (And also, as my bro Jashua Sa’Ra pointed out, “the movie studio couldn’t show us what it would’ve looked like if the forces joined in this already powerful Black Panther movie.” AKA the reason why the FBI killed Malcolm & Martin when their speeches started to mirror each other and they were on the verge of working together instead of fighting each other. Someone call up an independent Black production company to bring that story to life. “If Malcolm & Martin Lived to See Their 40s.”)

Leave your thoughts on the Black Panther movie in the comments. What rating do you give it?