Black Panther Discussion (SPOILERS)


#1

So what did all my fellow Waypoint travelers to Wakanda think? I myself loved the movie a whole bunch, easily my favorite MCU film by far. Here are some random thoughts about it:

  1. Wakanda itself is the star of the show. Chadwick Boseman does a fine job as T’Challa but is absolutely upstaged by the wonders and people of his nation. I would absolutely watch a spin-off series set in Wakanda that has nothing to do with the royal family.
  2. Michael B. Jordan has created the most compelling villian in comic book movies since Heath Ledger’s Joker. It’s certainly a tough comparison, as the Joker was a force of chaos whereas Killmonger fights for injustice, but man does Jordan just nail the performance. His final words destroyed me.
  3. If there’s a weak link, it has to be Martin Freeman. I like him usually, but my dude, you must’ve said “third world” like a hundred times in the movie!
  4. I’ve been calling my black cat Waffles T’Challa all week and now he’s super confused.

I cannot wait to see what they do next in Wakanda. I have to imagine it’ll have a central role in Infinity War, but I just want to get back to a sequel movie. What do y’all think?


#2

Also, takemymoney.jpeg


#3

I generally haven’t enjoyed or even bothered to watch a lot of the Marvel movies, but I really enjoyed Black Panther. I thought the pacing was wonderful, the cast was strong and diverse, and nothing really felt too generic throughout the film. Sure, it’s not a perfect movie but it’s definitely a strong one. I think it’s a shame though that Black Panther is stuck in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’d much rather another Black Panther movie than have to watch Infinity War where Black Panther will get a few minutes of screen time and that’s it. Black Panther felt like it was more than just a superhero movie, and I really wish we could get more of that feeling.

I absolutely agree that Wakanda was a super interesting setting. I’d love to see more lore based around that region. Even if it’s a backstory on the main tribes when the Vibranium first fell. Netflix series when? Also I honestly thought Martin Freeman did fine. He was far enough in the background that he never felt like he overtook the other characters. That said, I’m a huge Martin Freeman fan so I could just be happy to see him everywhere he pops up.

But more importantly, it just makes me think about what could be in the future. The representation and apparent celebration of a completely different culture is really exciting and I can’t wait to see what comes next. Personally looking forward to whenever we finally get a queer superhero, and maybe three decades from now we can see a trans superhero. But for now, Black Panther is a really good movie that shirks a lot of Marvel’s general attitude and that’s exciting.


#4

Marvin Freeman’s addition to the story felt like the obeisance to the overall MCU continuity that every MCU movie has to do but him sticking around and being healed on the merit of saving Nakia just made me roll my eyes, but that was literally it. I get that Black Panther is in the upcoming Infinity War so he needs to a part of that but generally that was the only part of the movie that really bugged me.

The movie was really thematically and emotionally deeper than most of the other MCU films but it still felt rushed because of the additional plot elements that fit into the larger MCU narrative. Still, far beyond every other MCU movie both visually and story-wise. Everyone acted the shit out of what they were doing but that’s not surprising given the cast. Michael B. Jordan wasn’t a villain to me, even a sympathetic one. Just a very convincing antagonist who had too many good points to make and they did a good job of not going TOO overboard with making him “evil” vs. “maligned.” which is a hard balance to strike. I just wish they had done a faster job with getting him into the story, with more depth on his life, but I guess that he’s a big reveal. The moving pieces with Klaue seemed really roundabout but I get it.

Overall, the movie really sold me on the idea of “what if colonialization didn’t happen here” through a fantasy world. It’s a big “what if” that gets all the way paid off through Coogler’s script and direction.


#5

I have to work in a bit and just like properly collect my overall thoughts but since just about every post has mentioned Martin Freeman’s character I wanted toss my two cents in real quick.

What irked me the most about his presence on top of the repeated third world references was just his super casual descriptions of acts of war. (Gonna blur the rest for possible spoilers)

I guess you could argue his nonchalance serves as a device to highlight the grayness of Killmonger’s morality, but I literally hit the Drew Scanlon blink when he just described the process of overthrowing foreign governments as if it was instructions on how to make an omelette. Also he just seemed too chill overall with Killmonger’s whole history as…well…a Killmonger…and while that does play into the central moral conflict of the film hearing him say “Yeah, this dude’s just all about killing people” while referring to him as a kind of asset was jarring. Lastly, I’m not entirely clear on if there were supposed to be people piloting those cargo ships at the end but his reaction after blowing up the first one was a tad too jovial for my taste.


#6

It is so fucked up how movies and pop culture just take it for granted that the CIA does shady shit. Like, there’s never a critique of it, just a shrug-shoulders “whaddya gonna do” to extra-judicial assassinations and overthrowing foreign governments. I get Coogler having enough shit to manage without getting into the ethics of whatever agencies created Killmonger, but it does show how Hollywood subtly legitimizes America’s empire building and neo-colonialist thinking.


#7

I wouldn’t say it’s legitimizing imo. There’s really only two Americans in the film, Killmonger and Freeman. Killmonger, while raising great points and going through some real trauma, is perhaps a tick too extreme. Freeman, and there’s way too much Freeman in the film (I think I tapped out on him when they gave him a job to do in the climax of the film, something only he could really do), but we literally see him making a deal with klaw, like that’s what he’s doing when we meet him, which is pretty crummy but I interpret this as being of little to no surprise to the Wakandans. Crummy Americans.


#8

Hopping back in here with my full thoughts.

I think the major triumph of this film is how well it utilizes its ensemble cast. Everyone involved totally knocked it out of the park and it helped breathe life into each scene whether T’Challa was around or not.

That said, Killmonger absolutely stole the show in my opinion. The character was so well written and realized that I was nearly brought to tears multiple times throughout his arc. I do feel that Michael B. Jordan was overacting at times, but I would argue its an acceptable amount for what’s ultimately a superhero movie and it seems clear they were in control of how they walked that line because he hit all the more toned down and emotional moments perfectly.

Other than that I have to echo the above posts by saying the “Universe” is probably my least favorite part of the MCU films. This definitely fell in with Guardians 1, Spider-Man and even Ant-Man as a film I enjoyed more for not being a blatant lead-in to some kind of Avengers shenanigans, but considering how poignant and real the plot was part of me definitely kind of wishes it was a standalone film.


#9

I was so hyped for BP and I’m overjoyed it paid off. That said, there are critiques to be made.

I think they could have delved a lot more into American imperialism beyond Agent Ross’s (Freeman’s character) casual description of how the USA takes down foreign governments. The true villain of Black Panther should be colonialism/imperialism and this movie was more about the evils of isolationism? That messaging overall seemed confused.

Killmonger seemed a little under developed in parts. He’s motivations are solid, his reasoning and actions make sense, except he causally kills his partner when trying to get to Klaue and then seems to kind of half-ass the whole take over. Sure he burns the flowers which makes sense, but he should have also had some sort of scene requiring loyalty from the council members and Dora Milaje (bodyguard warrior women).

For some deeper cuts on some more problematic elements if you want to dampen your spirits a bit read ‘Black Panther’ Is Not the Movie We Deserve.


#10

I’m glad Black Panther exists but man am I bummed at how its story got treated. You have this movie at odds with itself trying to celebrate African identity and represent Afro-futurist concepts and then the Marvel lawyers step in and go “no the CIA told us to make this one about how black liberation movements are bad” so it becomes about black people fighting each other to save white people. Fuckin burn disney to the ground this shit is so tiring

ps its still the best marvel movie despite that, turns out deviating from the Studio Mandated Aesthetic does wonders to a franchise


#11

An issue I [think I’m gonna] have with this is I’m almost sure the themes of African diaspora liberation is probably done now that Black Panther is folded into the larger MCU. Like, opening up your borders and making care centers is gonna fix the issues that birthed Killmonger? I don’t think so. I hope against hope that I’m wrong.


#12

I thought Ragnarok and Guardians 2 weren’t deserving of all the hype they got. I was mostly bored with both of those. Black Panther though, Black Motherfuckin’ Panther, exceeded all my expectations. I’ve never been so immersed in a movie before. I want that 4 hour cut that was being talked about. Give that to me. Inject that shit into my veins.


#13

You have this movie at odds with itself trying to celebrate African identity and represent Afro-futurist concepts and then the Marvel lawyers step in and go “no the CIA told us to make this one about how black liberation movements are bad” so it becomes about black people fighting each other to save white people. Fuckin burn disney to the ground this shit is so tiring

I mean the thing is that this isn’t really a movie about the African experience (since there isn’t any such singular thing) but about the African-American experience, IMO.

Killmonger makes a great villian specifically because he isn’t Wakandan. He isn’t a privileged wealthy individual who is accustomed to avoiding the problems of the world. He’s fatally infected with Western/American imperialistic hegemony, and with the post-colonialist mindset. Even though he’s part of America’s underclass, he has absorbed that mindset so strongly that he cannot imagine a different or better world. All he can imagine is a world that is fundamentally the same, but upended. He doesn’t want a better place for Wakandans or Africans, he wants to invert the imperialist hierarchy as a form of vengeance. Martin Freeman actually says it - “He is what we made him.” Killmonger doesn’t give a fuck about Wakanda, they’re just a weapon he can use. Killmonger vs T’Challa is partially about T’Challa learning that the Wakandan’s place in the world does need to change (but it won’t, because MCU loves status quo) but hoping for a better model than just “conquer and enslave all the white folks.”

Like, Black Panther doesn’t answer all the problems of American race relations, of course. But In terms of presenting a dream of a better world, in the form of the magical kingdom of Wakanda deciding to open up and try to share to make the world a better place, it does do that. It even interrogates, just a tiny bit, the imperialist/colonialist mindset.

I liked it a lot. It’s not perfect, but I liked it.

One thing that I thought was funny as hell (you know how this movie is written by Americans) is when General Okoye is like “naw, T’Challa, I’m going to obediently serve this psychotic maniac that just took the throne, because I serve the throne and the law and so I am bound forever” which is, like, not how shit works through most of history. If Wakanda is still seriously doing King trials by challenge, and actually having the challenges be real, the idea of the head of the military being bound by some sort of constitution to avoid interfering in political matters is just… hilarious. There’s very few countries in the world that you can say that the military doesn’t get a say in who is in charge.


#14

Black liberation is nothing like American imperialism and the fact that Marvel made a movie where they paint it as evil doesn’t change that. When the PAIGC fought in the Guinea-Bissau war they regularly freed Portugese POWs specifically because they recognised that the Portugese people were not Portugese colonialism. Just because an oppressed country wants to take up arms and fight back doesn’t mean it’s also going to run around committing the same crimes as America does, and it’s a proven fact.


#15

Yes, I know. But killmonger’s plan is not to dismantle the colonialist order and build a better world, his plan is to upend it and perpetuate it, as vengeance. That’s my point, is all.

Like, don’t get me wrong! What makes the movie so good is that fundamentally Killmonger’s beef with Wakandans leaving all these folks for dead is absolutely correct and T’Challa has to come to grips with that. I love that he calls out his ancestors for being wrong to isolate themselves.


#16

I was super excited to see this movie but was extremely bothered by the shot in the trailer where Okoye is flying the ship with just like her arms but no physical controls and I thought that looked dumb, like someone flying a ship with a Kinect. Thankfully, that shot wasn’t actually in the movie (there is a similar, but better shot) and 99% of the other flying shots involve sticks and throttles.
I’m sorry that this is all I’ve contributed to this thread.


#17

The only political criticism I have is that the payoff of T’Challa’s arc in choosing to open up the city to the outer world in order, mainly to help marginalized black communities in the US, has odd implications about African nations needing to bear the burden of supporting African-Americans in recovering from the remnant echoes of western colonialism.

I don’t think this is explicit text, but a knock-on effect of it being a movie in a long running comic book franchise while also inviting commentary about colonialism to a larger degree than any Marvel film before it.


#18

I think the major failing of the film is the lack of LGBT characters.
Still it a very empowering movie having seen videos and pictures of people dressing up in there traditional outfit and many actually dancing after the film. There also women empowerment with the female cast having a strong role in the film. Now I’m curious about what other minority group characters Marvel films will bring now that they have the ball rolling. Like will a Ms Marvel movie have Kamala Khan?

Letitia Wright is the best!


#19

P L E A S E

I’m glad we’re getting this in the meanwhile, but I want a big live-action movie too.

While I’m here and since we’re talking about Black Panther, here’s my contribution:

Much has been said of K Dot’s soundtrack, but the OST for this movie by Ludwig Goransson is just sublime.


#20

I really liked the film, but I was disappointed in how Ross was misused.

Christopher Priest’s run on Black Panther had Ross as a well-meaning but utterly clueless white dude, the feckless sidekick to the 12-steps-ahead-of-everyone Panther. One part comic relief, one part highlighting (white) American privilege. A diplomat rather than an intelligence agent, he sure as hell wouldn’t have been having an air combat sequence.

Ross can serve as a great vector for highlighting privilege and unthinking prejudice/racism. Here, he was just generic CIA guy (barring a few missteps in the Jabari tribe’s throneroom), a Coulson 2.0. His presence in the Wakanda segments could have been excised entirely.