A Love Letter to Black Panther
Before I begin, it needs to be known that I paid to see Black Panther twice so that should tell you how I feel about this movie, but I’ll elaborate further.
I love superhero movies; I love the action, the perfectly placed one-liners, the outfits, just everything about them. I like to imagine myself living in their universe, where the good guys always triumph and evil falls. But somewhere in the back of my mind, there was something that held me back from fully relating to the characters. For the first time (as far as my memory serves) I had a superhero, a world, and even a villain that I could relate to.
Wakanda is the near perfect answer to the question, “What if Africa was never colonized?” I know that the continent wouldn’t look exactly like the Marvel version, but I cannot help but wonder how different the present would be if there was a different past. Wakanda is overflowing in its abundance of and pride for Blackness, which is matched only by its technological expertise that even Tony Stark can’t compete with. Right there on the big screen we were kings, queens, innovators, warriors (shout-out to the Dora Milaje!); masters of our own narrative. However, what I liked just as much was the fact that Wakanda isn’t perfect. Wakanda’s riches, culture, and influence is confined to its borders, fueling the anger of my new second-favorite villain.
Killmonger, sweet but broken Killmonger. He was wrong in his actions--especially when he came for the Dora Milaje--but I understood his rage. That anger...That frustration with trying to grasp onto a culture and place that feels so far out of reach. Wanting to right the wrongs done to you and those you hold dear isn’t a novel idea, but within the context of the African diaspora, it is a concept hundreds and hundreds of years in the making.
To put it simply, Black Panther made me happy. I’m not a film critic but I love a good movie, and this was a good movie. I felt the intensity, lost myself in the wonder, and for a measly 2 hours I thought myself the most powerful person on Earth. Beyond myself, there are little kids and adults alike jumping for joy and rushing to the theaters to see people who look like them be the protagonist and not the sidekick. To believe in your power, see it come to life, and have it be a success, that sounds pretty amazing to me.