Marvel’s Black Panther film is hands down one of my favorite movies of all-time. I know some people will say it’s too early for me to make such a claim, and others may argue I just bought into the hype. However, I guarantee that it’s not too early and if I bought into the hype, it’s because the movie deserves every bit of it. The Ryan Coogler project is probably one of the only films I’m willing to pay to see in the theater multiple times (I’ve seen it twice already, and really wanting to go see a third soon). I’ve talked about the movie non-stop since I’ve seen it, and have even pledged my allegiance to Wakanda forever. With that said, there are five takeaways I got from my new favorite film.
- There Is A Hidden Power In Costume Design
Ruth E. Carter may not have physically been on the big screen, but her presence was definitely felt. The costumes and designs shown in Black Panther were some of the best parts of the movie and really helped tell the story, and that’s really thanks to her. One scene I’m stuck on is when T’Challa, Okoye, and Nakia walked into that South Korean casino. Each one of them looked absolutely breathtaking. After watching a video from Ryan Coogler, I discovered that beyond looking great in that scene, there was actually symbolism in the outfits. And outside that scene, I felt the designs in the movie really made me feel as if I got a proper African cultural experience.
- African History and Culture Can Told Without Animation
As much as I love Disney’s The Lion King, and trust me I do, I appreciate the company (via Marvel) showing the greatness of African cultures through people this time. While Wakanda may be a fictional place, many of the rituals, clothes, and even language are reflective of real African beliefs, values, and customs. The fact that the actors learned the Xhosa language to remain authentic to people of “The Mother Continent” was wonderful and exciting. I actually want to take a course in the South African dialect.
- Black Is Beautiful
The Black Panther film has one of the best looking casts I have ever seen. I honestly was in awe of the actors and actresses chosen to bring one of the greatest comic book stories to life. Let’s do a brief recap of who was on that screen shall we.
Lupita Nyong’o was a knockout from start to finish. With each wardrobe change, I found myself becoming more and more impressed.
Danai Gurira was another one that just captivated my attention from start to finish. I’m so used to seeing the actress as Michonne from The Walking Dead, her as Okoye was a great experience for me. I go back to that scene with her in that red dress on the hood of the car. I was like “get it girl.”
I’m fully aware that Angela Bassett is a veteran in Hollywood, but I honestly don’t think I’ve seen her more regal. Honestly, she commanded that all eyes be on her.
And while the ladies held it down, the guys were not to be outdone. The surprise of the film for me was Winston Duke, aka M’Baku. I didn’t expect that fine piece of thickness to have me doing more than a double take. He was displaying body goals for those that want to be more than a snack.
Of course Michael B. Jordan has to be mentioned here as well. It was quite obvious that he bulked up for the role and his body looked absolutely fire.
Last but certainly not least is Chadwick Boseman. You know I’ve always thought he wasn’t bad on the eyes, but through this movie and through his interviews and promo pictures for the film, I’ve discovered the man is an A+. He’s got looks but perhaps more importantly he’s got swag. I have no idea if he’s married, but if he is, good for her.
- Pan-Africanism Is Back on the Rise
This movie has brought about a sense of African pride I haven’t quite seen in a long time. In the weeks leading up to the release date, I don’t know if I’ve seen so many Black Americans running to find clothing representative of African cultures. Heck, I was definitely in that number. And I know I for one felt absolutely proud to know I have African ancestry running through my blood. In fact, I should probably get a DNA kit to trace my roots. I wouldn’t be surprised if thousands of folks are thinking the same thing right about now. Once I figure out the regions where my family originates, I should make plans to visit the African countries.
- Wakanda May Be Fake But What It Represents Is Very Real
Beyond the great costume designs, amazing fight choreography, and overall beauty of the movie, there were some hidden gems in Black Panther that really touched on some serious social issues. In fact, perhaps the most important thing I learned from the film, was that “old Wakanda” represents comfortability within the black experience world-wide. Just follow along with me here as I explain.
It’s not that uncommon for Blacks, especially in America, to reach a point of success in their careers that they feel their immune to the unjust and unfair situations that plague many people of color around the world. That they believe the green in their pockets serves as protection from the racism, the persecution, the prosecution, the impoverished conditions, and the daily struggles of survival countless black men, women, and children face regularly. And while the group of well-off Blacks may feel bad for Blacks that suffer and struggle, they don’t want to readily get involved or help, because that somehow disrupts their comfortability. It’s as if they believe it’s not their fight to fight.
And before you decide to condemn the black men and women who are seemingly turning their back on their community, allow me to suggest that many of us have been guilty of not doing enough for our sisters and brothers struggling to survive. I know I feel as if I haven’t done enough. I haven’t done enough for the African-Americans in Chicago who are in constant danger due to violence. I haven’t done enough to fight the ongoing Libyan slave trade which is a constant threat to the freedom of my brothers and sisters in North Africa. And I haven’t done enough for the people that look like me in Haiti and the rest of the Caribbean that seem to be pummeled by one natural disaster after the next.
To my defense, I probably have more student loan debt than money in my savings. So I don’t necessarily have all the coins I’d like to have to help the millions of Blacks around the world that could use the help. However, I have no excuse as to why I haven’t demanded more action than words from American politicians. Or why I don’t do more responsible shopping with businesses that at the very least don’t take advantage of people of color if not actively helping them. Or why I haven’t simply volunteered more with organizations like Big Brother and Big Sister, who are trying to help the very community I belong to.
I’m guilty of being too comfortable. Just because I may not be directly impacted by the various issues and disasters plaguing other Blacks across the globe, I participate in limited activism and donate a few dollars here and there, but I don’t do more. And I should do more. If I had to guess, many of you are probably in the same shoes as me. Ask yourself, beyond hashtag activism, what have you done? I’m just saying, Black Panther has me ready and determined to be more involved.