Black Panther (2018)
February 11, 2018 5:21 PM - Subscribe

T'Challa, the new ruler of the advanced kingdom of Wakanda, must defend his land from being torn apart by enemies from outside and inside the country.
posted by paper chromatographologist (198 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
I love it, a solid entry to the MCU canon. But more than that, a resounding success in terms of the narrative and bringing the Black Panther and Wakanda to life. In terms of what they needed to convey it reminds me of the Thor movies more than anything else: the royal family drama and the alien new world, but more assured than Thor 1 and more explicit (necessarily) about its politics than Thor: Ragnarok.

I love everyone, Shuri, Okoye, and Nakia as expected, but M'Baku came from the back to steal the show whenever he's on too.

Movies in this genre tends to resonate more when they allow themselves to tap into rl concerns, I find. Also, like TLJ the central thesis is not fighting what you hate, but saving what you love.

Also I'm easy, any jokes at Western white men I was here for.
posted by cendawanita at 6:11 AM on February 13 [23 favorites]


Also, I swear, the UN of MCU must be hella more powerful and respected than irl.

African Union mention: 0
posted by cendawanita at 6:16 AM on February 13 [5 favorites]


oh, oh, and the ending... one night's sleep later, and i'm here at my desk grinning at the callback to the Black Panther organisation and the social work that they did (imo).
posted by cendawanita at 11:22 PM on February 13 [9 favorites]


Just got out and really enjoyed it. The production design was sensational. The costumes, sets, make up, all incredible. Really felt like a fully inhabited and thought out world.

Indeed, I thought in some ways this movie didn't need "Marvel" anything; it's perfectly functional as a strange alone.

The cast were uniformly fantastic. Bose man has great presence and I always have a soft shot for depictions of family in non-"family" film. T'challas interactions with his sister were great.

Only minor quibble is u thought the pacing could have been worked on a bit more, it was - like many marvel films - a little front heavy.

SPOLIERS
Kill mongers ascension to the throne was so fast, I really thought he was going to be welcomed with tears of regret, only to slowly turn the kingdom against T'challa. I lived how Wakanda is so advanced, I'm thinking "you guys should stop building spaceships and focus on better transfer of power, maybe give democracy a try".

It's just a quibble though.
posted by smoke at 2:05 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]


Enjoyed it a lot - exquisite production design and atmosphere, fantastic acting, with MBJ being the standout. His ascension to the throne was so wrenching, and reminiscent of another recent unexpected change of leadership, that it was difficult to watch.

Couple of minor tweaks I had from a discussion with a friend:

- Killmonger's plan was a little diffuse and perhaps too low-stakes for this kind of movie. Yes, the weapons they're sending out are incredibly powerful, but I wonder if an extra "and I'm also going to fire missiles at these US/UK military bases, and damn any collateral damage" would have made things a bit more immediate.

- Why on Earth didn't they just put Everett Ross in the aircraft? Like, I get the virtual cockpit thing is cool, but surely that would've felt more dangerous rather than the bizarre effort they had to go to with another aircraft shooting at the lab? Does he have a thing in his contract that he can only pilot fake fake aircraft?
posted by adrianhon at 2:18 AM on February 14


I just saw it. It. was. Superb.

Merchandise is sorely lacking though. I want a goddamn plush armoured rhino stat!
posted by Faintdreams at 9:12 AM on February 14 [13 favorites]


Omfg I loved this! I will be seeing again, something I never do. It was so gorgeous, visually astounding, killer action, everyone was amazing, including Serkis with his unexpectedly short turn. My heart broke for N'Jadaka at the same time I wanted him put down right now. There is so much to be discussed about identity, as someone says “is he Wakandan?”; well, is he? National vs ethnic identity, love of country vs love of an individual, augh, I wanna go see this with more people and drink wine and talk shit! I loved that M’Baka while a challenger was not an enemy (and breathed a sigh of relief how it worked out with his character, had been slightly concerned). Adored his slightly Nordic/Viking influences snowtop retreat and barking Ross silent. And. The. Women. Nuff said. (Kidding, I’ll be back).
posted by Iteki at 12:23 PM on February 14 [11 favorites]


Ross flew it virtual because lil-sis gave him a ritual interface that he was familiar with, he wouldn’t have been able to do their controls. She says something like I’ve set it to American. .
posted by Iteki at 12:25 PM on February 14 [18 favorites]


Iteki: Yeah, I realise that - although their tech is so advanced I'm sure it wouldn't have been a problem to reconfigure the real aircraft's controls as well. My point is that it felt like more of an excuse to use the virtual controls again rather than, you know, put Ross in a more immediate sense of danger. A small thing, anyway.
posted by adrianhon at 1:16 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


Wales is a member state of the UN in the MCU. This on its own would have been enough to get me to the cinema. Haven't been so excited since I noticed a Welsh tea-towel on the wall in Walken's digs in Dead Zone.
posted by ceiriog at 7:05 AM on February 15 [5 favorites]


Just saw.

Really good, more of a saga than story, it felt right and true. A little long, but that was as setup that paid off really well. We had to see the perfect Wakanda first, before learning some of its darker secrets, similar to Thor.

I’m amazed Marvel greenlighted such a pro black movie, even as it feels like it was tempered at times. It touched on a lot if black American issues, while avoiding getting too deep until things. Understandable, but leaves meva bit hungry.

The design color palette were astounding, easily worth a second viewing! And that cast! Fingers crossed for BP2.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:48 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]


Just got out. Will need another viewing (maybe in 3D next time?), but first impression: FUCK THAT WAS AWESOME I WOULD LIKE MORE PLEASE
posted by palomar at 9:58 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Just got home too. It was really good. Two gigantic thumbs up for strong black female role models, and for Shuri kicking all KINDS of ass. The familial relationship between her and T'Challa were my favorite moments, it reminded me so much of how my brother and I talk. The shoe quip! OMG, I had a huge grin.

And all the well directed action (i.e. you could follow what was going on!), and the awesome tech, and the charging rhinos, and the stunning cinematography, and the fabulous outfits. Very, very happy. And yes, it didn't even need to be in the MCU, it could easily have stood on its own.
posted by gemmy at 10:22 PM on February 15 [4 favorites]


I also just got home! IT WAS SO GOOD. I laughed, I cried, every frame was gorgeous. Gonna have to see it again to generate deeper thoughts.
posted by yasaman at 11:00 PM on February 15


for the record this is bog standard merchandising, but since it is chinese new year season, there's Black Panther-themed ang pow/hong bao packets here. :D

second viewing thoughts - Nakia driving barefoot! Shuri being so awesome she can kick ass literally, and virtually as well through her coaching of Ross. M'Baku stealing the show every damn time to me*. The UN HQ seems to be in Vienna for MCU?? I laugh forever. Okoye and Nakia's dynamic post-Erik reminding me a lot of a local Malay epic. So much great design choices in a movie brimming with fantastic visuals.
posted by cendawanita at 11:08 PM on February 15 [6 favorites]


Absolutely fantastic. The world building, costuming and hair/makeup were superb and had better get some award nods next year.

And OMG the women. If I manage to go see this again, it’ll be for the Wakanda women.

Dubbing question: can someone fill in the blank on Nakia saying “A ______ is on the throne of Wakanda.” after Killmonger takes over? The Italian dubbing frequently employed a new-to-me word, forestiero, one who is of your nation but not of your city/region, and I am damn curious to know what the original English was. There’s not enough clips online yet that might illuminate me.
posted by romakimmy at 12:21 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]


I just saw it and it was everything I could have wanted. I'm already planning to see it again to soak in all the details (the set designs and costumes are incredible), but of everything that happened, the most powerful part of the movie was afterwards, when I was in the bathroom, listening to the Black women around me talk about how important this movie is to the Black community and how they wanted to do their dead-level best to get every Black child to see it, because every child needed to see it.

I felt like an interloper, hearing them talk so frankly and intimately about what this film meant to them and to their community at large, but it's what made me want to cry the most (even after tearing up while watching the movie itself). I'd already made plans to see it again with friends, but now I'm also looking for a way to sponsor some kids to see it, too, since if I'm happy to pay to watch this movie a couple of times for my own selfish delight, then the least I can do is to try and make sure that the kids who really need to experience this film have that opportunity.
posted by paisley sheep at 12:38 AM on February 16 [9 favorites]


Killmonger was really good.

"We'll kill the oppressors!" Yeah man, kick some ass. "And their children!" Wait hold on now.

And his scene at the end was intense. I'm always disappointed when they kill a major villain but that last scene was so perfect.
posted by fomhar at 12:53 AM on February 16 [8 favorites]


I have so many questions about the economy of Wakanda.
posted by zippy at 4:08 AM on February 16 [8 favorites]


the economy of Wakanda is driven by ticket sales and merchandise
posted by kokaku at 5:08 AM on February 16 [22 favorites]


Honestly, the big disappointment about Black Panther is that it kills not one, but two very charismatic villains. Killmonger was among one of the best in the MCU because you can understand where he's coming and almost root for him.

Klaw was just hilarious fun and should have been kept around. Not exactly sure why Killmonger got rid of him. Plus, I'm curious about his mixtape!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:22 AM on February 16 [16 favorites]


romakimmy, I think the word that fills in that blank is outsider.

cendawanita, I came away with a big big crush on the actor playing M’Baku.
posted by palomar at 5:56 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


The said a lot about black america, on many levels, from different time periods and all of it good (even when pointing out problems). Particularly hardhitting for me was W'Kabi taking up with Killmonger to continue a cycle of violence, and then his spouse (wife?), General Okoye, pointedly showing she'd take up arms against him if he didn't end the violence. SOOOO much said there about black on black violence, hyper masculinity and the strength of black women, yet so succinctly, while taking nothing away from story. Multi layered indeed.

Switching things up, as a hetero male, I'm also stuck by how absolutely gorgeous so many of the women were, yet none of them were sexualized. All of them were physically beautiful yes, but that beauty was enhanced by the strength of the characters and the wonderful variety of distinct personalities. From Okoye's no nonsense approach (as befitting a general), to Shuri's wise cracking antics, to Nakia's warm heart to Queen Ramonda's serene presence, it was glorious to watch. More please.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:18 AM on February 16 [24 favorites]


oh man, palomar, on my second viewing i can't take my eyes off of him. talk about unexpected!
posted by cendawanita at 6:22 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


the actor playing M’Baku

Oscar nominated Daniel Kaluuya (for Get Out), and yeah, his character in Black Panther had a certain gravity and presence. Like Killmonger, you can understand his actions, even if you disagree with them. That's the best kind of storytelling.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:29 AM on February 16 [4 favorites]


Daniel Kaluuya plays W'Kabi, of the Border tribe. M'Baku is Winston Duke, the Jabari leader who challenged T'Challa in the first ritual combat. Today I learned he's actually at Yale around the same time as Lupita Nyong'o, but I'm not a Yalie so I don't know what to do with that info.
posted by cendawanita at 6:38 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


Yep, you're right, thanks for correction. Tracking the names has been difficult for me.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:51 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Big love for Daniel Kaluuya, though, too. I loved him in Get Out, loved him in this.
posted by palomar at 7:04 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


No worries, am in my hyperfocus phase so I'm just reading and watching stuff. Like, Laetitia Wright and Daniel Kaluuya's interviews (they got paired for the UK promos) are hilarious, eg their impression of their first-gen parents reacting to them wanting to be actors.

Also in my headcanon, there's a deleted scene with M'Baku having a piece of steak, chuckling, "I don't even have children."
posted by cendawanita at 7:38 AM on February 16 [26 favorites]


AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH IT WAS SOOOO PERFEEEEEECT
posted by numaner at 7:56 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


and i just learned that the badass royal guard is called the Dora Milaje
posted by numaner at 8:07 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


The movie was fantastic. I saw it with a packed, noticeably more diverse house and everybody was loving it!

Dubbing question: can someone fill in the blank on Nakia saying “A ______ is on the throne of Wakanda.” after Killmonger takes over? The Italian dubbing frequently employed a new-to-me word, forestiero, one who is of your nation but not of your city/region, and I am damn curious to know what the original English was.

IIRC, the line has her saying "outsider" (or at least something to that effect) so that seems pretty close.

(I gather that the Italian word is similar in derivation to the Spanish forastero, which I learned by purely by virtual immersion, thanks to the opening village level in Resident Evil 4.)
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:15 AM on February 16


It was so amazing!!!!!! I tried to type a comment last night but still can’t come up with anything coherent!!!!!!!!!
posted by R343L at 9:03 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Thank you palomar and Strange Interlude. Now I’m going to have to try and see it in English and then again in Italian; I don’t trust my memory, but I am fairly sure they used forestiero when talking about non-wakandan POC. If so, that is a fascinating linguistic choice that added another layer of nuance to the film.
posted by romakimmy at 10:02 AM on February 16


Hey can anyone explain why Killmonger killed Klaw? They seemed to be getting along fine, Klaw was trying to talk KM out of being dropped off in Wakanda, but it didn't seem like a huge disagreement, just Klaw offering advice. Then KM decides to kill him, why?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:18 AM on February 16


KM needs the dead body of Klaw to get W'Kabi on his side, basically implying "Look, I found this dude who killed your parents while T'Challa and his dad did fuck all for twenty years. So in exchange, how about you support my claim for the throne?"

Now, why T'Challa didn't say in his defence to everyone "hey wtf me and the general saw Killmonger spring Klaw from prison, this is bullshit" is a bit of a mystery, but perhaps W'Kabi and Killmonger would have said this was fake news.
posted by adrianhon at 11:46 AM on February 16 [27 favorites]


Ah duh, thanks for reminding about the need for a dead Klaw.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:48 AM on February 16


Upon reflection, I'm kind of shocked that the movie was so forthright about America's role in destabilizing other countries. This is a movie that in many ways is pitched to kids, and it had more than one matter of fact conversation about the CIA and US government overthrowing other countries' governments, like that's common knowledge. I mean, it is common knowledge, especially to those of us from one of those developing countries whose government was destabilized/overthrown, but I don't know that it's common knowledge to a lot of other people in anything but an abstract way.

The fact that Killmonger used those very same methods to overthrow Wakanda's government, methods he learned from the people and governments he identified as his own oppressors, is some heavy stuff. Killmonger is a really fascinating villain, one who made me feel a lot of feelings by the end.
posted by yasaman at 12:01 PM on February 16 [37 favorites]


I was wondering how Killmonger obtained the personal info about W'Kabi to devise that part of the plan, since Wakanda is a closed culture, but since W'Kabi seemed to be high up in the leadership of the border tribe, maybe one of the spies in the larger world mentioned something to KM because he had the lip tattoo and was "one of them."

Also I hope W'Kabi can patch things up with Okoye, because I had heart eyes watching her the entire film and can't imagine screwing that up if you had it.

Basically I loved the care with which all the different characters were drawn and am looking forward to another movie centered around them, as opposed to just the Black Panther going to join Cap and the gang.

(Wakandan medicine means there shouldn't be too many fatalities from the end fight, other than the crews on the planes, right? That was one aspect of the film that I didn't like, though it illustrated those points about Killmonger destabilizing the society that yasaman just mentioned very effectively.)
posted by rewil at 12:16 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


It is rather groundbreaking and refreshing to hear a lot of the bad shit done to Africa and/or black people stated as a known fact within an American movie for general audiences. It's presented as a known, obvious thing, as if saying or believing anything else would be utterly ridiculous. it wasn't even justified in some ham-fisted way, just plainly acknowledged.

Yeah, it's pretty damn amazing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:21 PM on February 16 [24 favorites]


Oh! Something that hit me in the flashbacks is just how classically Greek tragedy this is. Not that the Greeks are the only ones that did the family tragedy where one member in a weak moment picks the easy way and it later comes back to haunt them, but our literature analysis labels it that way. Anyway, the family conflict here is really classic. Secret shame of the father, he dies suddenly, and then the son is forced to pay for the sins of his father(s), fair or not.

Killmonger is an amazing human villain. Yes he’s kind of comic book larger than life in his physical skills and consistency of his rage, but he is still so human.
posted by R343L at 12:42 PM on February 16 [7 favorites]


I'm from Oakland so one of the Oakland things I loved was T'Challa ghostriding the whip through the streets of Busan. Also that the new Wakandan Cultural Center is coming to us first (as a gentleman in the audience shouted, "Oakland! Not San Francisco, OAKLAND!" And apparently Ryan Coogler showed up to both the Grand Lake Theatre and the AMC Bay Street last night (after we left :( sadly).

Lots to think about during the film about power and violence and culture, and yet it was beautiful and hopeful. I need to see it again.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:47 PM on February 16 [18 favorites]


I walked out with so much love for this movie.

I was impressed with how explicitly political Ryan Coogler was able to be in the MCU, but he did an impressive job of making it organic to the story. I appreciated that Killmonger had some agency in his death, and made an informed decision based on his knowledge of the American Prison Complex.

And the women. I did not walk in expecting my feminist wish-list mostly fulfilled. They were not sexualized or desexualized - their sexuality was just secondary to all the other things that defined them. I loved that we started with Nakia's thesis that she would be a great queen because she is stubborn. And the rest of the film is women proving that stubborn is just a dismissive way to characterize conviction and strength of character.

I loved how often we went back to the idea of aesthetic vs functionality. How natural it felt for T'Challa choosing his new suit compared to how radical it felt for both Nakia and Okoye. Okoye feeling out of sorts in Buran having to present as an American black woman, giddy when she discard the wig and heels. Nakia having to be reminded that the beautiful garment is necessary because it's armor - which was also a nice nod to how much codeswitching she does spending most of her time outside Wakanda.

We could have had more body diversity. I remember Roxanne Gay wishing she could have put more in her run of World of Wakanda.

But damn. I'm so excited that Marvel is allowing their universe to diversify. Less team ups, more of this.
posted by politikitty at 12:55 PM on February 16 [22 favorites]


Totally loved this movie. I was most captivated by the production design; so many wonderful costumes and sci-fi technologies and cities. I've got the art book on order.

The story was great too. I particularly liked Killmonger's backstory; he's not just a mustache dreadlock twirling villain, he's got reasons to be angry and want to overturn the order of Wakanda. I wish they had more room to show his side and his building up some support within Wakanda, but in two hours there's only so much they can do. They did a pretty good job laying the groundwork for W'Kabi to turn allegiance.

The director Ryan Coogler did turn up at an Oakland screening last night. Here's a story with video and a sweet story of Coogler talking about how much the Grand Lake Theater means to him.

One funny bit that stuck out to me; how is one of the five tribes of Wakanda Hindu? The reference to Hanuman as their monkey god sure stuck out to me. But then again an Egyptian goddess Bast doesn't make much sense for a sub-Saharan African tribe, either. It's all in keeping with expansive / mystical African-American lore. Perhaps one of the other five tribes are Shaolin monks, some sort of clan of the Wu-Tang.
posted by Nelson at 3:26 PM on February 16 [22 favorites]


+1
This movie was amazing and important. Can’t wait for a second viewing on Saturday.
posted by greermahoney at 3:28 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


It's all in keeping with expansive / mystical African-American lore.

Indeed, I thought there was a lovely retro utopian kinda pan-African vibe to the film which I really enjoyed.
posted by smoke at 3:48 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


I think the word you're looking for is Afrofuturism, although the phenomenon is older and more complicated than a word coined in the 1990s encompasses. A big part of why Black Panther is so visually exciting is we've never really seen a big budget afrofuturist movie before. Blade sort of qualifies but otherwise you have to go to more outsider stuff like Sun Ra and Space is the Place.
posted by Nelson at 4:08 PM on February 16 [11 favorites]


That Hanuman bit stuck out to me too because I can at least handwave Egyptian cosmology as it's part of North African culture but to my understanding Hinduism is still quite new to the continent, relatively. Still, at a Doylesian level I'm not too bothered, I chalked it up to it being a movie that's more about the current black experience than logical anthropology. But, mind you, because it's Chinese New Year season that still makes this the second movie of the season that has the monkey king in it that I watched. Lol.
posted by cendawanita at 6:06 PM on February 16 [5 favorites]


I couldn't believe my ears when I heard someone mention Hanuman.

I love that the primary question of this movie, in the end, is about legitimate authority and balancing our responsibilities to in-groups and out-groups.

I can't remember where I read this, but I saw someone say that the first cut of this movie was four hours long, and I would love to know what they cut.

yasaman, in my imaginary college class where I teach political science entirely using Marvel movies, I think this goes up there with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and above Thor: Ragnarok. (The TAs for this class drink while watching Captain America: Civil War.)
posted by brainwane at 6:18 PM on February 16 [6 favorites]


I was thinking more than afro futurism, if you look at the costumes for example, they are clearly inspired by different traditional dress from across the whole continent.
posted by smoke at 6:22 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


My favourite little '92 Oakland shoutout was the kids playing basketball and one of them (little Eric?) say "Hardaway" when going for a layup.

I've got a whole rant about what Killmonger's aptitudes and abilities say about nature vs nurture and what that implies about royal bloodlines but I'll let that pass for now. This movie was too damn good.
posted by thecjm at 6:42 PM on February 16 [7 favorites]


I just got back from a matinee screening in suburban Kansas. House was packed. I've never seen so many colors of people in this theater before. People cheered, shouted.. a white guy next to me was crying by the first flyover of Wakanda. Families taking up whole rows. So many kids with their uncles and aunties. Talked to a black dude who saw it twice on opening day and was already back for his third showing. Saw a white grandma in her 70s or 80s who took her black grandson. Poor lady was incontinent, she had to leave three times to piss and kept apologizing for "not wearing more pads" as she crawled over us to get to the aisle. She risked total mess and embarrassment to show up for her grandkid... that's how vital this movie is!
posted by fritillary at 7:09 PM on February 16 [19 favorites]


Just got back, so pleased. Plus the theater was a full house (rare here), laughter and cheering drowning out a bunch of lines. The local college's multicultural office got school buses to bring over students who didn't have cars to see it - so like half our theater was college kids.

There's so much good in this, it's hard to know where to start.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:47 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


It was sooooo good! Got home like three hours ago and first spent 45 minutes dancing around my house to the soundtrack because I was still so hyped up from the awesomeness of the movie, then spent another couple hours reading various reviews and articles and social media excitement about it. Can't wait to see it again.

So much good stuff. Hopefully my opening weekend dollars helped get the message to movie producers: make more movies centered on complex black characters, with strong and varied women character, all of it! So good!
posted by aka burlap at 10:17 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


Seeing this in Oakland was awesome.

Seeing it with a relative of a democratically elected black politician whose government was fucked over by multiple colonial powers was icing on the cake.
posted by zippy at 10:59 AM on February 17 [9 favorites]


don't mind me, i'm just laughing* for a million years that with the Wakandan International Outreach Centre/center in Oakland, CA, Wakanda's first overseas development assistance organisation is in a 'first world' country. also, i had a 'no, duh!' moment when the scene with W'Kabi and T'Challa receiving the call from Okoye at how much judo flip this movie brought to the big screen, of that favourite trope of a [indigenous] villager with a technological gadget (google maasai + mobiles for example).

Tears, exuberance as 'Black Panther' opens across Africa

*for a given value of mixed emotions that you can expect trying to grapple with the postcolonial legacy
posted by cendawanita at 12:20 PM on February 17 [5 favorites]


They were showing it on 4 screens (one every 40 minutes), our showing (the first of the day) was 90% full and the lobby was packed when we left.

So many families.
posted by Mick at 12:51 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]




This was sooooo good! I too my two sons today because I wanted to see it, and the rest of the family was busy. But I really have got to make sure my wife and my daughters see this. My girls especially need to see these women being badass and not sex objects. Marvel is okay at portraying women well, but this is a shining example of the way it should be.

We saw it at 11:00 AM and the theater was packed. People were lining up for the next showing when we left.
posted by Shohn at 6:02 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


We were in a 12 Noon showing here in Pittsburgh and it was sold out even though many of the main roads are flooded out here so driving is even more of challenge than usual. There were a multiple outbursts of applause during the show and at the end.
posted by octothorpe at 6:03 PM on February 17


It was great. It makes me want to see it again so I can be in Wakanda for a few more hours.
posted by cashman at 8:41 PM on February 17 [5 favorites]


Just a beautiful, beautiful movie. And far more nourishing a meal than you generally get from a superhero movie, which I say as someone who LOVES superhero movies. This was a next level project.
posted by Ipsifendus at 9:24 PM on February 17 [3 favorites]


Watched it again! Even better the second time! Thing that struck me: the way Ross describes Killmonger and his unit is pretty much the same way Bucky Barnes described the HYDRA Winter Soldiers from Captain America: Civil War: a unit of elite soldiers whose purpose is to destabilize and overtake governments. And those Winter Soldiers were portrayed as unequivocally Bad, and HYDRA are absolutely villains. So consider that now the MCU explicitly has/had an equivalent unit run by the US government, and in Black Panther, that's portrayed as a bad thing. The average movie viewer isn't going to remember that or catch that parallel, probably, but it's there, and I think that's some pretty heavy stuff for a Marvel superhero movie.

And god, Erik Killmonger's last words. I'm not sure I've ever felt so gutted by an antagonist's death.
posted by yasaman at 10:40 PM on February 17 [15 favorites]


And god, Erik Killmonger's last words. I'm not sure I've ever felt so gutted by an antagonist's death.

I did feel that the film lost a chance at a nice grace-note by not having T-Challa say, "We should not have left you there." He said it, but he never said it to Erik.

Also, what happened to Erik's mother? She's an empty space.

As much as I enjoyed the production design and the characters, I got a bit weary towards the end of all the battles. I know it's a superhero movie, and they come with the territory, but the character bits are so great and I just find endless battles kind of boring.
posted by suelac at 12:42 AM on February 18 [6 favorites]


WAKANDA FOREVER

Does anyone know which track was playing during the Korean car chase?
posted by sixswitch at 6:52 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Oh, this was so, so, so good. I love it when a movie makes the bad guys have motivation and backstories and paints them more grey than black. And Okoye (sorry, General Okoye) made me whoop so many times. Come to think of it, all the women were so badass, and considerably, surprisingly more fleshed out than I'd expected.
I dragged my extremely not-superhero-movies-aware sibling to watch it (you can imagine their awareness by the fact that the fact they thought it's named Black Panda) and they were legit thrilled by the time the credits rolled.
posted by Nieshka at 7:00 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


SO FUCKING GOOD.

I have been so steeped my whole life in Lord Of The Ringsian Euro-mythology. It was incredible to see a whole other world that is never seen at this scale. The costumes! The music! The world building! With these deeply rooted African cultural references and then all this amazing futurism. So fucking good. So imaginative and new and immersive.

One thing I loved: although the message is we should all take care of each other, the message was also, it's ok to be different and to disagree. Wakandan culture is diverse and Wakandan tribes don't all get along, even as they agree on core principals and traditions. More significantly, Wakanda is fine on its own. Sure, they'll start helping the rest of the world, but that doesn't mean they will necessarily live with them. This wasn't a movie for white liberals where we all end up in a happy rainbow melting pot. This was a movie where blackness doesn't need to be integrated with whiteness to be validated. So powerful.

I love that main relationships are familial not romantic. So beautiful to see the sibling banter between Black Panther and his sister. So painful to see Killmonger shoot, "Hi Auntie" to the queen mother.

The way gender roles work on Wakanda are amazing... You can tell from how Ryan Coogler imagined the options for women that he's from the Bay Area! Yes, there is gender, and within each gender there are so many possibilities, so many kinds of work.

And speaking of work, everyone on Wakanda has meaningful work. A way to contribute to society. And for the urban planning nerds, what a cool society! Agrarian, right up next to dense urban development. High speed trains for distance travel and cute, frequent trams in the market place. Walkable communities. This is a world worth defending.

Something that distinguished this from most superhero movies was the stakes. Marvel movies usually show these ever escalating parades of impalings, explosions, absurdly extended fist fights between the mega powerful... But for me it's hard to care. In Black Panther the stakes are real and the issues are real. I cared and felt empathy for both positions.

Finally, I loved Coogler's shout out to Oakland and if you checked the posters on the Oakland apartment walls, the Black Panther Party that surely inspired the original character. So, so, so good.

This is the mega budget Hollywood blockbuster we need right now.
posted by latkes at 7:14 AM on February 18 [12 favorites]


Here's an article about the work Hannah Beachler did on production design creating the world of Wakanda. She talks about what an exceptionally diverse behind-camera crew Coogler's hired, with women running most departments.
posted by latkes at 7:37 AM on February 18 [6 favorites]


Does anyone know which track was playing during the Korean car chase?

That would be Opps by Vince Staples with Yugen Blakrok and Kendrick Lamar, which is on the Black Panther soundtrack album. The version used in the film was a slightly different mix, not sure where you can get that one specifically.
posted by yasaman at 8:21 AM on February 18


Latkes: I asked about that in another thread. The Black Panthers were incorporated later the same year that the first Black Panther comic came out. Given that it was Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (east coast Jewish guys) who created the character it’s most likely a coincidence. With each likely being inspired by the Black Panthers, a segregated tank unit in WW2 (761st Tank Battalion).
posted by Iteki at 8:28 AM on February 18 [6 favorites]


Tiffany Cross on AM Joy this morning. I may or may not have jumped up laughing and clapping.
posted by cashman at 8:54 AM on February 18 [6 favorites]


I took my eleven year old son to see it yesterday afternoon. We both loved it. He's a middle class white kid from a pretty diverse urban environment. When we talked about it afterwards I couldn't decide if I should ask him what he thought about the what the movie was saying about race, all the amazing subtext, etc. He really just thought it was a kick-ass action movie. I just mention this because it's pretty remarkable that Coogler made a movie that I loved for all the reasons enumerated above and a eleven year old can love because it's so badass.
posted by TheShadowKnows at 9:13 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


Come to think of it, all the women were so badass, and considerably, surprisingly more fleshed out than I'd expected.

This was one the best things about it. It was a large cast, each with distinct personalities, yet very little time was spent on the their backgrounds, they were just people in particular roles. It makes a lot of other films (superhero or not), pale in comparison.

There's no excuse for poorly drawn secondary and tertiary characters.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:53 AM on February 18 [5 favorites]


In Defense Of Erik Killmonger And The Forgotten Children Of Wakanda. Thoughtfully written article taking up the argument that Killmonger was right, that Wakanda is complicit in not fighting global oppression.

Thinking back on the movie now this question of Wakanda's global ethics feels unresolved to me. One great strength of the movie is it depicts both sides of the conflict as having a point. Wakanda is trying to preserve itself, Killmonger (and some Wakandans) want to help the world and stop oppression. Killmonger himself goes off the rails with all the murdering and regicide and all, but nothing refutes his global argument. And yet in the end he loses.

I suppose the post-credits ending of T'Challa offering the technology via the UN is supposed to indicate he too has realized Killmonger is right and wants to change things. But as the article I linked notes, that's a pretty weak start. "But unless the UN is actually a useful political body in this fictional universe, I’m not sure what confessing your power to the world’s greatest colonizers will do to protect Wakanda or oppressed folks around the globe."

If I take the politics in the movie seriously I'm left unsettled. Maybe that's a good thing, it's not like this question is simple in the real world either.
posted by Nelson at 10:04 AM on February 18 [8 favorites]


I suppose the post-credits ending of T'Challa offering the technology via the UN is supposed to indicate he too has realized Killmonger is right and wants to change things. But as the article I linked notes, that's a pretty weak start. "But unless the UN is actually a useful political body in this fictional universe, I’m not sure what confessing your power to the world’s greatest colonizers will do to protect Wakanda or oppressed folks around the globe."

This where the story could get REALLY interesting and I suspect that Marvel won't carry it much further. All sorts of fascinating questions start here, about how Wakanda would interact with the world and how the world would react to it on global, political and yes, racial grounds. The situation would get incredibly complicated, very quickly, because Wakanda is right, in part: everyone would suddenly want access to their technology for their own ends. What countries deserve access first? Who decides that and how? How does Wakanda prepare and react to the backlash?

None of these things will answered, probably. More than likely, Wakanda's advanced tech will be used as Earth's main spear and shield in May's Avenger's: Infinity War. Which is ok, but the roots of very good, more interesting scifi story are there.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:21 AM on February 18 [6 favorites]


The Washington Post has an article with some interesting African perspectives on the film.

Yes, for all the Americans who are upset about Russia interfering in elections, I’m like, “Really, America? You’ve been meddling in African elections since the beginning of time! And you don’t hear us complaining. It’s payback time!” The American in the movie knew how to destabilize and just meddle, because that is what America does best.
posted by idiopath at 11:49 AM on February 18 [7 favorites]


It means a lot. [3-minute Video interview with Chad alongside Danai and Lupita]
posted by cashman at 11:50 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Elsie Eyakuze for Al-Jazeera: It's about rage.
posted by idiopath at 12:10 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


I had to wait in line (there were about 30 people ahead of me) for my 10:30 am showing this morning (a Sunday). If I hadn't been alone, I would've had to sit in the front row. As it was, I took one of the last three seats that were further back. (And this was in Evansville, Indiana, where most people at that time on a Sunday morning are in church.)

I hope that this movie makes all the money, and I hope that there's a Wakanda "documentary" at some point, because I would pay a lot of money to sit through that.

I found the pacing a little rough in place, but it didn't bother me that much. Killmonger's death reminded me of something in Luke Cage, and if there is a Black Panther 2 (take my money), the direction they go with the villain will have to be very, very good to make up for that.

Also: Michael B. Jordan is amazing and wants to show you how to iron.
posted by minsies at 12:18 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


So, there's my two favorite bits about this movie: One is their outfits.- Serious, I want some of those for myself, and I'm a boring white dude. And the other is the message, or rather, the several messages to everyone who's not a boring white dude.

But, I felt I was not on with some of the story. Like, Killmonger did, as far as I can tell, a legit job of becoming king. I'd kinda have enjoyed it more if, say, someone else had re-challenged him for the throne without a dramatic return from the dead, however much that helped on-boarding the Jabari. Queens > Kings anyway, right?

And then, that soundtrack legit kicks ass. But, not in the movie? Should have featured a lot more.

Anyway, I put Black Gold on and that helped a bit, even though it's arab tribes, not african ones.
posted by flamewise at 12:43 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


I can't remember where I read this, but I saw someone say that the first cut of this movie was four hours long, and I would love to know what they cut.

They didn't cut the completely pointless scene introducing the high-tech silent sneakers that were never used for anything. If the cut stuff was less important than super sneakers, I'm fine without it.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 1:02 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


The Washington Post has an article with some interesting African perspectives on the film.

Make no mistake, just like the Kenyan journalist in that article, from where I am, this movie is still an unmistakably American movie, and all that it contains within that. From the expected mishmash of accents to the understanding that it's still a movie about the black (American/western) experience and the idealisation of Africa. I'm waiting for someone to expand on the observation that Wakanda's first institutional aid is not to a neighbouring African country.
posted by cendawanita at 1:13 PM on February 18 [12 favorites]


I was surprised by how much Killmonger's backstory affected me. It was legitimately very sad to contrast T'Challa's coronation dream (speaking to his father, in Wakanda, surrounded by his ancestors) with Killmonger's (in his childhood apartment in Oakland, trying to get a hint of his father's mysterious culture, but disconnected/lost).

Okoye is everything to me. I actually got the same thrill from her scenes in Busan that I got from Robin Wright's character in Wonder Woman. She's...wow. Very wow.
posted by grandiloquiet at 1:18 PM on February 18 [8 favorites]


Like, Killmonger did, as far as I can tell, a legit job of becoming king.

Ehhh I'm not an expert on Wakandan law, but I think T'Challa is in the right here. He didn't yield or die, so...technically you could argue that the challenge was still on. The problem with Killmonger is the basic dictator problem; he'll use the rules to gain power and then crush the system that allowed him to advance. His decision to destroy the heart shaped herb field seems like a clear sign he didn't mean to relinquish power anyway.
posted by grandiloquiet at 1:29 PM on February 18 [15 favorites]


Re: the sneaker scene, the sneakers themselves were a macguffin but I thought it stood out to me as a perfect illustration of Shuri’s relationship to T’Challa. Their easy rapport and her sisterly mocking of his sandals is my most vivid memory of her character. It knocked T’Challa down a peg, showed that he had a sense of humor about himself, and established Shuri as part of his innermost circle in preparation for the later scenes in the mountains.
posted by migurski at 1:49 PM on February 18 [16 favorites]


It took a second viewing for me to realize that the narration in the beginning was of child-Eric asking his father to tell him the story of Wakanda. *cries*

Also I am about to head in for my third viewing (basically I've seen this movie almost every day, and with absolutely no regrets, and I'm still telling friends that if they're going to let me know and I'll join them).

Re: the sneakers, I think it was also to show how Okoye can stand on the top of the speeding car in Busan and not fall off until the car exploded, because while the style of the shoes may be different, the tech is presumably the same.
posted by paisley sheep at 2:03 PM on February 18 [7 favorites]


I mean I'm just assuming awesome grip is included because Shuri is the kind of girl to be like "well, duh, obviously the sneakers can do that, why would I invent something that could be used only one way."
posted by paisley sheep at 2:08 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Killmonger demonstrates again and again that he has no respect for Wakanda. He plays the challenge when it’s advantageous to him, and denies T’challa’s legitimacy after failing to kill him. Burning the herb garden, choking a subordinate, etc. Killmonger wants Wakanda’s resources but doesn’t want any constraints.

He’s following the colonizer playbook.
posted by zippy at 3:23 PM on February 18 [15 favorites]


I'm waiting for someone to expand on the observation that Wakanda's first institutional aid is not to a neighbouring African country.

When I saw it it was clear to me that T'Challa was regretful for what happened with Killmonger and he went to the place, the source of neglect, that almost resulted in their whole nation changing into something they didn't want it to be.
posted by cashman at 3:53 PM on February 18 [16 favorites]


Like everyone else, I really loved this movie. Actually, this is the first Marvel movie I've actually enjoyed. The women were such a joy to watch - as someone else pointed out, so many different kinds of strong woman. And the art direction/costumes/cinematography - oh my god, it was just such a thrill to watch this movie. Even the action scenes - usually I hate action scenes, because I can never follow what's happening so they're really boring to me, but these were so well choreographed. I was on the edge of my seat for all of them.

I didn't realize until yesterday that Michael B Jordan played Wallace on The Wire and that broke my heart a little bit. Killmonger is what Wallace may have become. I did have some mixed feelings about Killmonger in general. He felt a bit too "mustache-twirly villain" to me and I'm not sure why. Like, he did have that really complex and challenging backstory, and Michael B Jordan played him so well, but still. I think maybe because they were trying to keep the pacing tight, so they might have rushed through his takeover a bit.

One thing I am very, very grateful for: the fact that they didn't even really hint at sexual assault or the threat of it in his takeover. I really thought they were going to go there because it's so hard-wired into this kind of plot/character. I was so glad they didn't.
posted by lunasol at 4:48 PM on February 18 [6 favorites]


I think "shoot your partner as soon as she is inconvenient" is enough to establish a mustache twirler.
posted by idiopath at 5:25 PM on February 18 [6 favorites]


I love the movie too -- saw it this morning -- but I have to admit that I'm on Team Killmonger a bit. The business off the top about "refugees would ruin everything!" being the generally prevalent attitude, and the whole business with "we're completely fine with monarchy and this whole trial by combat system of government until we don't like the guy who won so now it's insurrection" was an eyebrow-raiser for me.

Yes, Killmonger was a lunatic, but he had the right to make the challenge, won the challenge fair and square, and if they'd actually followed through with a second one -- with T'Challa basically being propped up by Heart Flower Juice, and the central tenet of the challenge system seeming to be nobody gets Panther Powers, he would have won that too. Killmonger sucked as a person, but the entire Wakandan political system also sucks, and it would have been nice to see somebody acknowledge that.

So I was happy to see the turnaround to Wakanda exposing itself to the world at the end, which got rid of some of the anti-refugee stuff at the beginning that left kind of a funky taste in my mouth.

And I really wish they hadn't killed Klaw (Klaue?) -- he could have been, like, frozen in a freeze tube and delivered in stasis, or just handed over muzzled and nobody unmuzzles him, or something. Serkis was just having so much fun that I wanted to see him again.

Minor gripes. Great movie overall, and it was great to see (in my town) a theatre packed to the gills with mostly white kids under the age of 18 thoroughly enjoying this movie. Hopefully our next generation won't even recognize these kinds of films as unusual.
posted by Shepherd at 5:53 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


When I saw it it was clear to me that T'Challa was regretful for what happened with Killmonger and he went to the place, the source of neglect, that almost resulted in their whole nation changing into something they didn't want it to be.

Agree. But why does the assistance needs to be so formalised in that location? Again, I really have no major problems with the narrative choice, but I've also, like a lot of others, realised this movie is very much an American movie. Notice how the African voices being shared so far are clear on this too, for all the cultural colour being (mostly*) inspired by them.

*Not just the Hanuman thing, but according to this interview quite a number of visual design choices were Filipino-inspired.

This is not to take away from the enthusiasm! I've just came back from my fourth viewing and even in my own limited resonance it's such an important pop culture work.
posted by cendawanita at 6:06 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


Yes, Killmonger was a lunatic, but he had the right to make the challenge, won the challenge fair and square, and if they'd actually followed through with a second one -- with T'Challa basically being propped up by Heart Flower Juice, and the central tenet of the challenge system seeming to be nobody gets Panther Powers, he would have won that too.

Okay I'm not sure I want to die in the Wakandan kingship challenge hill, but...

*Dusts off Wakandan law book*

Killmonger drank the black panther potion during his coronation, so he and T'Challa are matched on the heart flower front. And they established during the challenge with M'Baku that it was a "yield or die" situation. The Dora Milaje don't start rebelling until they see that a) T'Challa is alive and b) Killmonger refuses to entertain the challenge. So it seems like everyone can feel comfortable in the legitimacy front? Unless you're Daniel Kaluuya's character, admittedly my interpretation of events means that his character is acting way out-of-line...

Andy Serkis was wild -- I didn't even recognize him when he appeared in the Ultron movie. He used to be, like, waaaaay less jacked right?
posted by grandiloquiet at 6:20 PM on February 18 [5 favorites]


Oh, one narrative thing I didn't understand and maybe someone who is more versed in the Marvel universe/comics can help me with: why was W'Kabi so deeply disappointed with T'Challa that he betrayed T'Challa just a few moments later? I get he wanted T'Challa to kill Andy Serkis but it's not like he didn't try! And he mentions that Klaw killed his parents - did that happen in another movie?
posted by lunasol at 6:46 PM on February 18


I like Wakandan government. Wakanda is an affiliation of tribes. The monarchy is inherited within one tribe, but can be challenged by leaders of other tribes or members of the current royal family, apparently at any time but formally at the time of succession. This means that the controlling tribe must be fair to other tribes or will be challenged. It also presumably means tribes rotate leadership. Women can challenge and rule. The monarch has a council of wise people from various tribes as well as important leaders like a general and a priest. The monarch is also strongly guided by social norms and traditions of respecting elders, honoring diversity, and preserving life. Science is valued as is spirituality. The elite warrior corps protects the throne, whoever is on it. Seems like a good system.
posted by latkes at 6:48 PM on February 18


my take re: W'Kabi and Okoye is driven by how feudalism is (idealistically) understood in my society, where there's this saying that roughly translates to 'a just king is one we obey; a cruel king we must oppose'. So if you take T'Challa's and Erik's actions as how they have articulated their kingship, and if Okoye and W'Kabi are above all loyal to Wakanda, then it makes sense? W'Kabi felt T'Challa has shown himself to be an unjust king by not pursuing justice on Klaue (based on the incomplete explanation he got) despite his (to his opinion) valid claim/petition to justice. Okoye literally turns on Erik the moment she saw his cruelty is an evil to the Wakandan people. Similarly, that's why W'Kabi capitulated, the whole pan across the battlefield showed the cost of this fight to the Wakandans, which is a trope that gets revisited a lot, on how interlopers come in and divide the people.
posted by cendawanita at 6:57 PM on February 18 [9 favorites]


I got the feeling that, usually, the challenge is more of a ritual than an actual battle to the death. No one in attendance, the first time, expected there to be any battle at all.
posted by meese at 6:57 PM on February 18


why was W'Kabi so deeply disappointed with T'Challa that he betrayed T'Challa just a few moments later? I get he wanted T'Challa to kill Andy Serkis but it's not like he didn't try!

T'challa promised to bring Klaw back alive to stand justice. W'Kabit agreed to that, despite wanting him outright killed. Then T'Challa failed. After 30 years of waiting, W'Kabi decided he'd had enough, especially after Killmonger presented him with a dead Klaw.

And he mentions that Klaw killed his parents - did that happen in another movie?

Happened off screen, back in the 90s.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:01 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


...Oh, to add on to my last point:

And when there was a challenge, the first time, it was for good reason: the challenger's tribe had been mistreated and ignored by the past kings (or at least, so he believed), and he took this as an opportunity to try to right that wrong. And he took his tribe and his country's well-being seriously enough that he risked his own bodily well-being. And then he made the appropriate, tactical 'yield' when he could not win, without any apparent loss of esteem or loyalty to his country.
posted by meese at 7:16 PM on February 18


Finally saw it today. I think I read the comments pretty thoroughly and didn't see any reference to my favorite bit of costume design which is the vibrant green suits worn by the tribal leader with the lip plate. I thought that was an incredible melding of modern and traditional. I couldn't stop looking at him any time he was on the screen.

> I didn't realize until yesterday that Michael B Jordan played Wallace on The Wire and that broke my heart a little bit. Killmonger is what Wallace may have become.

If there's one thing that he's held over from his days in The Wire it's his ability to give such sad eyes. There was one moment in his astral realm conversation with his father that MBJ threw those eyes back out there and I was like, "oh he may be older, and he may be jacked, but deep down he's still Wallace."

I think my favorite part of this movie was the real-life experience of catching an 11 AM Sunday matinee at my small 4-screen neighborhood theater in a room that was - and I'm trying not to exaggerate here - maybe filled 1/4 with black women. I see a lot of shows at The Broad, especially dumb MCU stuff, and I have never seen this kind of diverse attendance. Apparently they've sold out 34 consecutive showings and I'm happy that Marvel's willingness to permit this kind of movie to come into existence is helping to funnel so much money to a local business that services my predominantly-Black community.
posted by komara at 7:17 PM on February 18 [12 favorites]


I mean.... Maybe our country's politics would be a lot saner, if those who wanted to lead had to be willing to risk their own bodies, before they could risk anyone else's.
posted by meese at 7:18 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


Killmonger himself goes off the rails with all the murdering and regicide and all, but nothing refutes his global argument.

I thought T'Challa's point during the final fight was pretty solid. Killmonger just wants to turn Wakanda into one of the colonizing powers he supposedly hates. Is there actually anything wrong with the way Europe treated Africa or is the only problem that Africa wasn't able to do the same to Europe first?

(And I thought the train was a really smart and elegant solution to the problem of how to have a conversation in the midst of the big final fight.)
posted by straight at 7:39 PM on February 18 [5 favorites]


Looooved it. But the pan African broad brush strokes were not so cool especially after Coco and the better effort at being sensitive to culture.
posted by k8t at 7:39 PM on February 18


And actually, the thing in the trailers that made me the least excited about this movie was the shots of Black Panther fighting another Panther Dude, but wow in context it wasn't at all just panther powers vs. panther powers, it was a fight to determine what it means to be King and Panther.
posted by straight at 7:44 PM on February 18 [8 favorites]


the pan African broad brush strokes were not so cool

Maybe it doesn't actually make it any better, but I got the impression from the introduction that perhaps, in the MCU, the vibranium meteorite brought together people from various regions in Africa, and that Wakanda was the result of a mix of the descendants of various cultures.

(And I suppose the special crazy laws of physics that apply only to vibranium explain why a meteorite big enough to be the basis of an entire nation's culture wasn't an extinction event.)
posted by straight at 7:59 PM on February 18 [7 favorites]


Killmonger was the scariest Marvel villain of all time because his body scarification yanked my trypophobia chain hard.
posted by Windigo at 8:01 PM on February 18


the pan African broad brush strokes were not so cool

Yeah, but this isn't a movie about Africa. It's an African-American movie about African-American tropes of afrofuturism and other forms of idealism. Which means a pan-African take on things mixing a bunch of different African cultures and accents. It's not like it was trying to be an authentic Kenyan movie or Congolese move or something. It's an authentic American movie. I'm OK with that.

But then I was OK with Dr. Strange too for similar reasons (it's an Orientalist movie, not a movie about Asian culture.) FWIW American afrofuturism is far less problematic than Victorian English Orientalism.

Pretty sure this was linked in this thread already, but 'Black Panther': Why the relationship between Africans and black Americans is so messed up is a good article getting some African perspectives on this American treatment of their continent's cultures. Many complaints about the accents, but good-natured enjoyment of what was presented.

I got my copy of The Art of the Movie book today. It's beautifully printed and full of lovely sketches and ro ugh paintings. Also some text about specific inspirations for particular costumes and designs. The folks who designed the movie knew specifically what parts of African culture they were mixing and matching and were fully aware of the pastiche they were generating. You can argue that's a form of American imperialism. But in service to an African-American comic book movie I think it was beautiful.
posted by Nelson at 8:05 PM on February 18 [11 favorites]


Saw it today, loved it. I tend to fall on the "No" side of "Was Killmonger right/did he have the right to be king" question, because they took some pains to establish that his SEAL/JSOC background was in destabilizing governments; his argument WRT having a positive influence in the world was ultimately just another weapon. He was a demolisher, not a builder. (Basically, what yasaman said, too; this movie was as critical of American politics and attitudes as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which this movie now rivals as my favorite Marvel movie.)

Andy Serkis was wild -- I didn't even recognize him when he appeared in the Ultron movie. He used to be, like, waaaaay less jacked right?

I'm mostly familiar with non-digitized Serkis from this hilarious acceptance speech.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:10 PM on February 18 [6 favorites]


We finally saw it tonight, so I can go and read the comments finally tomorrow when it's not past our bedtime, but I had just turned to my wife while the second half of the credits were rolling and said "I'm sad we didn't get a flash of Bucky when she said 'another white boy to fix!' " ... and the second after credits scene rolls. Excellent. :)

Otherwise... I'm just staggering around our house going "that was amazing beautiful wonderful damn that was amazing."
posted by joycehealy at 8:53 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


Why on Earth didn't they just put Everett Ross in the aircraft? Like, I get the virtual cockpit thing is cool, but surely that would've felt more dangerous rather than the bizarre effort they had to go to with another aircraft shooting at the lab?

I thought that was great on several levels. For one thing you have the American sitting in safety, flying a drone to blow stuff up in Africa. And there's sort of the joke of how the nerdy white guy wouldn't be much use fighting out there with the warriors. And then you get the SURPRISE -- he's in danger too! Which ratchets up the tension and gives him a decision to make: is he going to sit there--with no idea how long that window can hold up--and keep trying to stop the weapons or run away? You don't usually have a character in a firefight who has the option to bail to safety at any moment.

And of course it also means you can end it by having him crash the ship into the last enemy.
posted by straight at 9:18 PM on February 18 [7 favorites]


Man, some of the Wakanda buildings were rocking solarpunk designs, I loved it so much. And the costumes were so well fit and gorgeous. I really hope they win some awards.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 9:18 PM on February 18 [5 favorites]




Like TLJ, BP is being review-bombed on RT and Metacritic. BMD discusses what's going on.
posted by cendawanita at 1:19 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


Several observations including:
Most superhero films and their reviewers like to use the statement “it’s like MLK vs. Malcolm X” to define the conflict between their characters. #BlackPanther says, “Oh, you’re still doing that? Because we’re on some Garvey, DuBois, Carmichael, Ani, hooks stuff over here...
...because not only are black people not a political monolith; we're also not politically binary.”
I had like a half-hour phone conversation with a friend on Saturday primarily on how the film demonstrates Erik's unsuitability as a leader of Wakanda (using the legitimacy of the succession ritual when it suits him and then discarding it and saying "that shit's over" when T'Challa returns, assaulting the gardener, burning the garden) and how this echoes the ways revolutionary leaders deliberately destroy all rival institutions and sources of power. Also I said that, by the end of the film, Erik and T'Challa have rival theories of change "and Erik's didn't get funded, his grant got denied" and my friend laughed a lot, so I thought I'd share it here too.
posted by brainwane at 4:34 AM on February 19 [17 favorites]


Clearly the true demographic for this movie are development and aid workers
posted by cendawanita at 5:33 AM on February 19 [8 favorites]


I feel like that's not even a joke, it's just true.
posted by brainwane at 6:09 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


Some people have criticized T'Challa's project in Oakland as weaksauce, the same kind of band-aid offered by other groups trying to help poor people.

But I think that misses the idea that Wakanda is revealing itself and plans to share their knowledge to the world and their first real embassy is in an African-American neighborhood. Imagine Wakanda saying to America, "You want Wakandan science? You'll need to hire one of the kids educated in our Oakland school."
posted by straight at 6:35 AM on February 19 [11 favorites]


I think my only real criticism of the movie is that that they sorta portrayed Wakandan science as 101 Ways To Use Vibrainium rather than the fruit of having had the leisure and resources to do science for centuries longer than anyone else.

But the theme of What If Africans Had Been Allowed to Exploit Their Own Natural Resources? is a pretty powerful and important one too.
posted by straight at 6:46 AM on February 19 [6 favorites]


I liked this movie very much. I was very impressed how the filmmakers took pulp material written in the late 60's and made it both relevant and thoughtful. I'm a huge fan of the comics and knew all too well this could be a cringe-fest but it wasn't.

I took something with very dated best intentions and managed to honor it while imparting much more modern best intentions. That's some good stuff.

Although reading some of the old comics again and some of the shit they had to say "the KKK is bad, watch Black Panther tear through them like tissue" seemed quaint when I was a kid... but now seems sadly needed again. Like "just to be clear the white supremacists are the bad guys" no longer feels like a dated sentiment.
posted by French Fry at 7:01 AM on February 19 [3 favorites]


"One thing...that we can and definitely should start doing is what M’Baku and his Que Dog Jabari Tribe did when encountering a problematic white dude who was speaking when there was no ask or need or purpose for the thoughts and opinions of problematic white dudes.

Bark."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:13 AM on February 19 [7 favorites]


the vibrant green suits worn by the tribal leader with the lip plate

That's Isaach de Bankolé playing the leader of the River Tribe. He sure does make a striking figure, it's remarkable that the bright green suit is so dazzling you almost don't notice the giant lip plate. He has a second outfit of non-Western clothes, seen here. He has one line in the movie and it didn't sound like was talking with a giant disc in his lower lip. Maybe they avoided P, B, and M :-)

Speaking of language I can't find anything online or in the art book about the writing system they used to represent written Wakandan. I was wondering if it was invented for the movie or if they borrowed one of Africa's own 19th/20th century writing systems like Ge'ez, Vai, or Neo-Tifinagh. My memory is it looked a bit like all of them, so perhaps invented; that avoids having to worry about translations. The spoken language is Xhosa, which stands out to English speakers immediately for its use of clicks. Xhosa's written with a Latin alphabet though.

FWIW the art book has a map placing Wakanda at the intersection of Rwanda, Uganda, and the DRC. I believe Xhosa isn't spoken there but other Bantu languages are. A long way from where those writing systems are used.
posted by Nelson at 8:18 AM on February 19 [5 favorites]


I'm waiting for someone to expand on the observation that Wakanda's first institutional aid is not to a neighbouring African country.
That's very much an American perspective, and the choice of Oakland specifically is rooted in American history: The Black Panther Party started out in that same city.
posted by Uncle Ira at 8:25 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]


I'm waiting for someone to expand on the observation that Wakanda's first institutional aid is not to a neighbouring African country.

It's isn't though. There were Wakandan humanitarian workers in Lagos, Nigeria, when the local fight between the Avengers and Hydra caused the works to be killed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:31 AM on February 19 [8 favorites]


Clearly the true demographic for this movie are development and aid workers

An improvement upon the Night Manager, surely!
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:41 AM on February 19


yes! indeed there was, which i pointed out in infini's post on the blue, as something i wanted to see explained/reconciled because in that point in the timeline wakanda is still publicly a 'poor' country, not even a country with an established ODA/overseas development assistance policy per india or thailand or other third world countries.

What i mean in the quoted point is more specifically going all the way with setting up a formal institution right in the middle of Oakland. And Uncle Ira, absolutely, that is the meta-narrative point that I completely understand. I guess I was pitching for a fic request (per that excellent fic written as a Vanity Fair article on Tony Stark) lol.
posted by cendawanita at 8:42 AM on February 19


(that tom hiddleston speech, combined with whatever went on between him and taylor swift, really went a long way in reducing my estimation of him, to put it politely)
posted by cendawanita at 8:53 AM on February 19


Speaking of language I can't find anything online or in the art book about the writing system they used to represent written Wakandan.

It looks like a con-lang based on Nsibdi, Thinite, Tiffinagh and Sabean - which is a neat reminder that Africa is home to some ancient literate cultures outside the Nile River, and would fit in with the Pan-African tone of the art design.

I loved the War Rhinos. Wow, they were fun! And they changed sides to be good-guys at the end of the battle, yay!

I feel that Ross was too competent, here - I like the character from the Christopher Priest run, the slacker Watson to T'Chala's super-Sherlock who manages to bumble his way into delivering big just when everyone needs him to.

M'Baku is set up nicely to be the Big Bad in the second movie, because yeah, they had two iconic movie villains they managed to kill off before the end credits - I'd love to see Killmonger and Klaw continue to bedevil Wakanda, one with over-the-top villainy, the other with subtle and sinister statecraft: undermining T'challa's plans while also blowing them up. Part of the fun of Superheroics are recurring villains and the new challenges they bring as they learn the strengths and weaknesses of the heroes - Loki is the only one so far in the MCU. Besides, Jordan and Serkis were amazing in their respective roles, I want more of them!
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:57 AM on February 19 [5 favorites]


I loved this so hard. Not just for being a big budget, mainstream movie that centered so many black people, but one which centered so many women!!! I was struck in the battles how much of it was framed in terms of gender. T’Challa is almost always backed by powerful women, and most of the advisors are women. When he and M’Baku fight, the contrast between the all female Dora Milaje and his all male guard was striking. The same when it was Shuri, Nakia, and the Queen Mother facing off against him - all the guards were male. I felt like his “we’re vegetarian” undercutting of their perceived savagery was echoed in one of the first shots of his tribe coming to their rescue - a female warrior of the White Gorilla Tribe. Even while presenting men coded as very masculine, there was a humanity, a gentleness, an undercutting of the ways that masculinity can calcify and become toxic.

For a story which could have easily excluded women all together, it felt so powerful that the opposite happened - both literally in the incredible women and their integral part of he story, and figuratively in the way coded masculine and coded feminine aspects existed in concert instead of hierarchy.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:12 AM on February 19 [9 favorites]


Usually killing the villain at the end feels like a cheap attempt at closure. It's not good enough to imprison the villain, the audience "needs" to see him utterly defeated, given the ultimate punishment for his crimes, completely erased as a threat.

But I didn't get the sense of that here at all. It felt like the movie agreed that imprisonment would be a humiliation that Erik didn't deserve. (Compare T'Challa forbidding Zemo to kill himself at the end of Civil War: "The living are not done with you yet.") And anyway, the Challenge can only end with death or submission, and there's no way Erik was going to submit.

That said, they can always bring him back with something like a sympathizer retrieving the body and saying "No one who has consumed the heart-shaped-herb can so easily die." And Thanos in the Avengers is almost certainly going to do some reality-breaking stuff that can be used to justify just about any re-arrangement of the MCU characters that they want.
posted by straight at 11:14 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]


Such an amazing movie. I too was pretty surprised that they laid out the wrongs that America has perpetrated so plainly, but then that's what made Killmonger both sympathetic and very obviously wrong.

I too hope for democracy in Wakanda. T'Challa might himself be a good king, but it should be pretty clear there are things seriously wrong in Wakandan tradition that need to be addressed.

I'm more interested in Infinity War than I was before, just because I want to see General Okoye kicking ass again. I also hope for several scenes where Shuri easily out-geniuses Tony Stark.
posted by Foosnark at 11:39 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


I also hope for several scenes where Shuri easily out-geniuses Tony Stark.

I think Rocket Racoon may have called first dibs on making condescending remarks about Stark's technology, but Shuri should definitely get a turn.
posted by straight at 11:42 AM on February 19 [3 favorites]


Letitia Wright stole the movie as Shuri for me, primarily because she's gleefully all-in and present in just about every scene she appears. She's clearly the smartest person in the room, but never jaded or cynical as we get from Stark, just "let me show you something awesome."
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 12:45 PM on February 19 [13 favorites]


she did a perfect portrayal of the younger sister who has to be twice as good as her older brother to be noticed at all, I hope we see her as Black Panther in a sequel
posted by idiopath at 12:53 PM on February 19 [13 favorites]


I think Rocket Racoon may have called first dibs on making condescending remarks about Stark's technology, but Shuri should definitely get a turn.

Tony's bragging to Rocket about his brand new bleeding-edge suit and how impressive it is that the suit assembles itself around him. T'Challa interjects with "My kid sister invented something like that a few months ago."
posted by Uncle Ira at 1:38 PM on February 19 [6 favorites]




Which means a pan-African take on things mixing a bunch of different African cultures and accents.

I realized I had entirely missed the accents. Would have noticed in any other movie (ie white) but in this one,

my inner narrative: “black people in every role in this movie!”
black friend: “British accent, African, [specific carribean nation] ...”
posted by zippy at 1:43 PM on February 19 [4 favorites]


Chadwick Boseman described his accent as a result of a specific choice to reflect Wakanda's history of independence (and isolation): If it's supposed to not have been conquered -- which means that advancement has happened without colonialism tainting it, poisoning the well of it, without stopping it or disrupting it -- then there's no way he would speak with a European accent. (from cnet interview)

To the extent that I noticed the accents, I kind of assumed they were doing a Themyscira thing (where all the other actresses tried to come up with an accent that would fit in with Gal Gadot's). I admit that I mostly didn't notice the accents.
posted by grandiloquiet at 2:15 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


Saw it this weekend and already have my tickets for next weekend (I need to see it in IMAX).

I agree with so many of the thoughts and reactions here, but I did want to call out again how awesome the women were in this movie.
posted by Julnyes at 2:19 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


Also - I would watch the heck out of a TV show set in Wakanda.
Joining the Dora Miljae: A Documentary - Check
House Hunters: Wakanda Edition - Check
the Great Houses of Wakanda - Check
The Voice (of Wakanda) - Check
The Real Housewives of Wakanda - Check
Tech Time with Shuri - Double Check
Project Runway of Wakanda - Check

you get the drift.
posted by Julnyes at 2:55 PM on February 19 [13 favorites]


I was a bit sideswiped by this film.

Black Panther was my favorite superhero growing up. I don't exactly know why, maybe I just liked the outfit, or maybe it was because I liked cats, or maybe because I grew up in a globally insignificant post-colonial country, but whatever the reason, he was my favorite. He rarely showed up in the comics that made it to Iceland, but when it did I treasured those issues. So I was expecting to be emotionally invested in his story. And I was.

But what took me by surprise was the theme of fatherhood. When T'Chaka said, "a man who has not prepared his children for his death has failed as a father", I got a little knot in my stomach that didn't release until Killmonger was shown crying over his father.

I have a two-year old son and suddenly I was struck with the mental image of him living on after my death. It was an unexpectedly profound thing to be thinking about in the middle of a whizbang action movie, and frankly I was grateful that the whizbang distracted me. I don't go to see blockbusters so that I can be confronted with my own mortality.

Thankfully it was a wonderfully distracting movie. And uplifting The theaterfull of people here in Helsinki applauded the film at the end... and then again after the first end-credits sequence. I haven't seen that many superhero films, but that's definitely one of my favorites, if possibly my absolute favorite.
posted by Kattullus at 3:56 PM on February 19 [22 favorites]


Killmonger did nothing wrong. Burning the flower grove was one of my favourite scenes in the film - who needs a magic monarchy? Killmonger didn't respect the Wakandan traditions because Wakanda had betrayed the African people, and by extension, the rest of the world with their isolationism. Could Wakanda really not have fought off medieval Arabs and C19th scramble for Africa Europeans with death beams and so on? Even poor outgunned Ethiopia managed it as late as the early C20th. Wakanda is basically an African Israel, an exclusive ethno-state, and THAT'S the reason for its prosperity, not the giant hunk of magic metal it sits on? I don't think so, and I guess neither did Killmonger.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 4:23 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Just saw it. A few thoughts:

1. Overall, I liked it, although more Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett would have been nice.

2. I could have done without the CGI rhinos.

3. Really, a CIA guy in Africa as a good guy? Really? I liked Klaw better.

4. Really, this needed to be a prestige mini-series to really drive home that Killmonger has a point and that Wakanda has fault lines, although maybe not quite the "hey, we are so down with civil war" sort.

5. On the other hand, given all the other nonsense in Marvel films, it feels mean-spirited to carp on this one.

6. I'd like to see another film about these characters dealing with problems in Africa rather than a cosmic slug-fest. There is a really great story of "how do superheroes save the world" given all the shit Africa has been thrown" there, and I would like to see a movie tackle that. Yeah, Killmonger has a point, but so does T'Challa, and it would be interesting to see these characters negotiate that. You can't just punch centuries of colonialism; let's see The Black Panther vs the IMF.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:28 PM on February 19 [5 favorites]


On further thought, the people of Asgard could also step up and deal with the shit-show that the Earth has become. What's stopping them? It's not Wakanda's job to save the world, is it?
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:31 PM on February 19 [6 favorites]


Quite appropriately, the MCU Wiki lists Klaue's nationality as Belgian and South African.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:34 PM on February 19 [4 favorites]


It's been 24 hours and I still can't be coherent. Just the joy, utter joy, of people who look like my wife1 and my friends and my family and my students on screen doing awesome things and being Black and being excellent. I know there have been other films with Black people being unabashedly Black and excellent, but this entire movie was amazing Black people being amazing and just. y'all. It was a privilege to just be able to come along and visit Wakanda; having seen it, I wouldn't have blamed her for telling me that she was seeing it alone with our friends of color. And that would have been Right. This wasn't for me, and I'm glad to have been there.

1. Well, the guys, at least - the MCU is still working on gender non-conformity.
posted by joycehealy at 5:12 PM on February 19 [6 favorites]


ZeusHumms: "Youtube: Black Panther's Director Ryan Coogler Breaks Down a Fight Scene | Notes on a Scene | Vanity Fair"

Wow. I've never seen either of Coogler's previous films but I definitely need to catch up with them now. The attention to detail, symbolism and character in just one action scene is pretty insane. I feel like I should watch this again just to watch for these kinds of details.
posted by octothorpe at 5:26 PM on February 19


Really, a CIA guy in Africa as a good guy?

I feel you. The comics EKR was different. Here is Everett K. Ross, minor U.S. State Department diplomat, left cooling his heels in the Wakandan embassy waiting room after being deprived of his pants, alongside someone else who really wants to have an audience with the King of Wakanda.

The Devil's Pants.

The M'Baku telling him to shut up and him shutting up was very excellent, tho.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:38 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]


I'm excited to see all these characters again in Infinity War (in only two months!), but at the same time I'm a little worried the next creative team will thoughtlessly kill off Okoye or M'Baku to sell Thanos and his goon squad as a threat.
posted by Iridic at 7:21 PM on February 19


I think one of the boldest things about this movie is that Erik is not only bigger, more charismatic, and downright cooler than T'Challa, he questions the entire premise of the movie so hard it almost breaks the fourth wall.

When he's first introduced in the museum and he just talks like a regular guy, it feels like we've stepped into another movie. And he maintains this air all the way through of, "This whole Wakanda thing is bullshit." I think the most chilling moment in the whole movie is when Panther shows up -- not dead and not surrendered. And Erik gives him this look of utter contempt and says, "Nah, we ain't doing that trial by combat nonsense anymore."

I think the movie wants to assert in the face of Killmonger's "realism" that Wakanda is (represents) something real and beautiful, in it's culture, traditions, and accomplishment, but most of all the aspiration to not merely replace the world's oppressors but to be better than them. But it's not an easy case to make.
posted by straight at 7:50 PM on February 19 [11 favorites]


Could Wakanda really not have fought off medieval Arabs and C19th scramble for Africa Europeans with death beams and so on?

Could Wakanda have done so without provoking a world war of Europe vs. Africa, with most of the rest of Africa bearing the brunt of the suffering? Could Wakanda, thus revealed, have maintained it's independence in the face of the world's inevitable greed for vibranium without becoming the sort of world-dominating power that Europe and America did in our world? (Can it now?)
posted by straight at 7:55 PM on February 19 [7 favorites]


Of course the real explanation for Wakanda's isolationism is that it's the only way you can have the fantasy of an advanced, uncolonized African nation and set the story in anything resembling our world.
posted by straight at 8:07 PM on February 19 [5 favorites]


Yeah, personally I've been looking forward to this movie because the fascination in reconciling the Watsonian vs Doylesian understanding of the narrative, considering our rl world experience. My friend and I used to talk about it in relation to Thailand, who also claims a history of being uncolonized, but what it meant was them allowing Europeans to take over control of their outlying client states eg the northern peninsula Malaysia kingdoms, among other things.
posted by cendawanita at 8:14 PM on February 19 [5 favorites]


I think superhero stories tend to fall quickly apart when you try to explain them in real-world terms. Black Panther at least gave all of the major characters at least one good reason for showing up to the cinematic circus, which puts it leagues ahead of Civil War. (My partner, who falls asleep during pointless action scenes, didn't for Black Panther, so they did something right.)
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 8:24 PM on February 19 [5 favorites]


Could Wakanda have done so without provoking a world war of Europe vs. Africa, with most of the rest of Africa bearing the brunt of the suffering? Could Wakanda, thus revealed, have maintained it's independence in the face of the world's inevitable greed for vibranium without becoming the sort of world-dominating power that Europe and America did in our world? (Can it now?)

If we're to believe they raised the invisibility shield during the era of colonisation, then yes, easily. Presumably they had airships, energy weapons - they could have razed London, Berlin, Paris. Even moreso during the height of the slave trade, it would have been trivial to wreck Arab slaver dhows and drive them out of the continent. But they judged their splendid isolation more important than ameliorating the suffering of their kinfolk. I suppose the prologue showing the tribes warring over vibranium is meant to be a psychic wound for the country that carries into the present day, and that's fair, but it doesn't mean that withdrawal from the affairs of the world was the right call. That said, the film definitely grapples with all this, I'm not making some nerd complaint about implausibility!
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 9:13 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


Yeah, and all that would make them de facto rulers of the world. There's some wisdom in looking at that possible scenario and deciding, "no, we're not going to be that." I don't think Wakanda has any easy or wholly right choices. I think the best they could hope for was waiting for the rest of the world to catch up to them some (maybe nudging it in that direction every so often, I find it hard to believe some of Wakanda's spies wouldn't do just that when their consciences were pricked enough), and then banking on maintaining an uneasy balance of power where there are no acts of outright aggression on anyone's part.
posted by yasaman at 9:27 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Sorry that I'm only finding the tumblr commentary (one without the link to the tweet sheesh internet 2.0): Nakia is what y'all want Killmonger to be
posted by cendawanita at 9:32 PM on February 19 [11 favorites]


omg i just had a revelation. there are criticism i've seen about where's Erik's mother etc, and in-text I can definitely see it as intentional, another aspect of the flawed revolutionary work of N'Jobu and Erik (that had no women compadres except for one who Erik executes the moment she's inconvenient), compared to T'Challa and all the women in his life.
posted by cendawanita at 9:35 PM on February 19 [8 favorites]


The 'Black Panther' Revolution - "How Chadwick Boseman and Ryan Coogler created the most radical superhero movie of all time"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:03 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


I loved it once I got over the fact that the "Museum of Great Britain" a.) is not a thing, and b.) was played by Atlanta's High Museum of Art.

Also, was it just me, or was that first fight scene really dark? I don't know if it's my eyes (which aren't what they used to be) or it was just the fact that it was set in a forest at night, but I had real trouble following what was going on.

Finally, I knew I'd seen old T'Chaka and young T'Chaka before somewhere, but I couldn't for the life of me figure it out until I hit IMDB. Turns out they're father and son John Kani and Atandwa Kani, and I first saw them both in the 2009 Gregory Doran production of The Tempest at the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon. They played Caliban and Ariel respectively in an amazing African-themed version of the play with Antony Sher as Prospero. I don't know if it was ever released on DVD, but if it was, check it out.

(Bonus picture: Atandwa Kani in one of his costumes that made him about nine feet tall.)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:06 AM on February 20 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the jungle fight was quite difficult to follow. The final fight also suffered from seeming at times like two CGI balloon-men bouncing off each other; only so egregious cos the ritual combat scenes were so visceral and real!
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 2:19 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


I dunno. If we’re going to dig in to how plausible Wakanda is (in a universe with Latvia, Asgard, and SHEILD for starters), I think blaming Wakanda for not doing something about the slave trade, as if that was their job, is... a little distasteful, but let’s see if we can stick a foot in and not bust an ankle.

I don’t think technology is what we should focus on; that’s just Wakanda’s schtick; their handwavy card for entrance to the MCU table. I suggest a more plausible reason for Wakanda’s isolationism comes from their culture or cultures. There are clearly five separate cultural groups in the country that have remained distinct for centuries. They get along pretty well, but they also fractured along social lines rapidly when there wasn’t a clear precedent for how to react. I suspect that Wakanda remained isolated from concerns that, if they expanded, their identities as Wakandans wouldn’t be enough to hold them together. Once-a-generation ritual battle over kingship (even if the Panthers seem to have kind of a monopoly) might well not be enough for cultural cohesion if they ruled a continent or the world (although, Kirby forfend, Marvel has planets ruled by sillier rules). If Wakanda becomes known, it must influence and be influenced by, the rest of the world. This could destroy what makes Wakanda Wakanda. If the answer to “why don’t you do something?” is “we all could die,” that’s a little different from “we might be uncomfortable.”

Additionally, we only see it a bit, but I expect that at least the heads of the various Wakandan groups are in frequent contact with their ancestors, which is going to create a conservative society. (This may explain the distinctness of the cultural groups in Wakanda, too.) T’Challa can make radical change not just because Killmonger showed the weakness in the status quo, but because his father made serious errors of judgement that weaken the certainty of the past and the infalibility of the ancestors.

Wakanda has way better reasons for its inertia than, say, Asgard or even Tony Stark. We shouldn’t blame Wakanda for slavery.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:37 AM on February 20 [7 favorites]


Loved it. This is my new favorite MCU film, and I doubt very much anything will displace it.

I think my favorite moment was actually at the end: our theater was full of white people, and there was a ton of applause when the credits rolled. I need as many small moments like that as I can get this year.
posted by mordax at 3:59 AM on February 20


Wakanda remained isolated because that was best for its people. Or to warp a slightly modern slogan, WAKANDA FIRST.

Going to war to save non-Wakandans would have placed the country in a particular role in the world, one what would have meant deaths for its own people. And for what? To save people who are not Wakandans, but merely the same color of skin. Why not save Native Americans? North Koreans? Or any one of number of displaced and abused people?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:05 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


re: the first fight scene

I got the sense from that fight that we were getting the experience of the bad guys. Where is he? What are we fighting? Who are we shooting at? It was confusing and dark and rapid and choppy as a mysterious attack like that would feel, conveying something of what the Black Panther is like...until he froze, of course ;)

Mind you, I think the other fight scenes were also too choppy and quick cut and I wish fight editors would learn that movement is not action. But it's been like this for decades with rare exceptions (the early Daredevil show fights and Into the Badlands come to mind).
posted by kokaku at 4:36 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


(I'm remembering Battlestar Galactica fandom and "Concerned Colonial Citizen" as I hear Watsonian critiques of the Wakandan political regime...)

Nakia is what y'all want Killmonger to be

YEAH.

There's an observation that I think is fairly common among people who write about superhero-style fantasies -- I think I first came across it in Eric Burns-White's writing on Websnark and then again in thingswithwings's writing on stuff like Batman's various incarnations -- that once you start putting a lot of serious-real-worldness into a cartoony superhero story it's going to affect some of the audience's ability to have other kinds of fun with it. The more realistic a Batman story we have, the more an audience starts asking a question that's basically become standard in a ton of fannish circles: if Bruce Wayne is so rich, why doesn't he use it to fix Gotham City's social and physical infrastructure, instead of putting a Band-Aid (that clearly doesn't even work that well) of extrajudicial vigilante work on the problems? And there are more and less interesting answers to that, e.g., "he's already doing that as well," "once he started existing Gotham got into a vicious circle where challengers started coming to town who are too strong for a government to handle," "Gotham City's corruption is so entrenched that one good rich man can't fix it," "Wayne's financial success is predicated on other rich people not thinking of him as a threat to their way of life," probably others I haven't run into. And there are stories in the Batman universe that address the negative side effects of his vigilantism, e.g., Gotham Central.

I know very little about the Black Panther comics universe; I've read part of A Nation Under Our Feet and some blog posts. But I'm presuming that, like Erik, comics authors and critics have asked why Wakanda and its warrior-king have not used Wakanda's resources to work on the world's infrastructure to prevent needless suffering. What have their answers been? If I had to guess, I would say that Wakanda was doing the same thing during the last thousand-plus years of African history that Captain America was doing during World War II: keeping things from getting worse than they did. Which also sits uncomfortably given the atrocities of World War II -- and should, and always will, because that incongruity between cartoony powers and serious history is a weak spot in the serious-real-worldy approach.

And: as much as my suspension of disbelief starts failing once I really start asking what Wakanda was doing during, e.g., apartheid in South Africa, Black Panther has a much better understanding of why and how states and leaders go to war than any other Marvel movie plus Wonder Woman.
posted by brainwane at 5:22 AM on February 20 [6 favorites]


Superheroes are good, but not perfect. Batman is a rich guy trapped in his psychological trauma, so his solutions involve either cutting big checks for charities because that's what rich guys do, or dystopian law enforcement surveillance technology because that's what crime fighters do. Cap is just a super-powered special forces guy with a code of ethics. So he's blindsided when the guys who point him at a target turn out to be corrupt themselves.

Then there are issues of scaling up the utopia from a few million to a population of billions, especially when dependent on a limited supply of unobtanium. And on the flip side, given a bountiful monopoly on unobtanium, why would Wakanda need to become expansionist/interventionist? In the past, that's typically been driven by either economic "needs" and/or cultural/religious mandates. The 20th century model of UN-style global human rights wasn't entirely altruistic. It's not a coincidence that those rights frequently mirror the ideals of colonial and post-colonial economic powers. Wakanda likely did not intervene in apartheid for the same reason the rest of the world didn't: mere shame isn't sufficient in the absence of an economic interest.

To what degree do we take on faith the origin myth that Wakanda was also a post-scarcity utopia 50, 100, and 200 years ago?
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 6:18 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


come for the movie, stay for the communitarianism vs cosmopolitanism debate.

(iow imo, it's contextual and you'll never satisfactorily resolve it, which is good! that provides a lot of narrative tension. as long as fandom doesn't fall apart at the slightest hint of political philosophy and approach it like there-can-be-only-one stan war)
posted by cendawanita at 6:59 AM on February 20 [2 favorites]


Waris / @diasporicblues breaks down African cultural influences on Black Panther. Excellent roundup of where the costumes, actors, language, makeup and hair, etc come from. Her whole Twitter account is full of fascinating tidbits of African arts and culture.

One reply to that thread from a Nigerian identifies the writing system as Nsibidi; a further reply says that the movie presents actual Igbo language words.
posted by Nelson at 8:02 AM on February 20 [3 favorites]


Killmonger did nothing wrong. Burning the flower grove was one of my favourite scenes in the film - who needs a magic monarchy?

Killmonger burned the grove after he'd drunk the potion. He didn't want there not to be a magic monarch; he wanted to be the last one. Big difference.

Nakia is what y'all want Killmonger to be

Yep.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:07 AM on February 20 [14 favorites]


The Verge has a story stream for Black Panther, a collection of all their stories on the movie.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:16 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


Killmonger did nothing wrong.

He shot his girlfriend because she was in the way and withheld his relationship to Klaue when offering the body in exchange for support. He may have had a valid philosophical point but his actions to bring that about were just as rotten as the neglect and colonialization he was fighting against. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
posted by kokaku at 8:42 AM on February 20 [6 favorites]


Killmonger did nothing wrong.

Killmonger was a CIA assassin who helped destabilize nations, who then turned against both America and Wakanda. His calling out Wakanda's inaction against the wrongs of Europe and America doesn't change that.

Burning the herbs didn't make Wakanda a democracy. He was removing any threat to the power he seized himself. He was more concerned with his own power than with liberating black people worldwide from white imperialism -- otherwise he'd maybe have given the herb to the War Dogs, or encouraged breeding it for use by all his people, or something along those lines.
posted by Foosnark at 8:54 AM on February 20 [6 favorites]


(I assume "Killmonger did nothing wrong" was a phrase chosen to echo the meme Hitler did nothing wrong, which depending on context is either hideous white supremacy, Internet trolls trying to be edgy, or both.)
posted by Nelson at 9:09 AM on February 20


that's not a meme, that's a digusting delusion
posted by kokaku at 9:14 AM on February 20


If I had to guess, I would say that Wakanda was doing the same thing during the last thousand-plus years of African history that Captain America was doing during World War II: keeping things from getting worse than they did. Which also sits uncomfortably given the atrocities of World War II -- and should, and always will, because that incongruity between cartoony powers and serious history is a weak spot in the serious-real-worldy approach.

I mentioned this on another forum: My headcanon is that during the 1930s, the King of Wakanda was worried about Hitler's incursions into Africa. He used his Wardogs to smuggle a small amount of Vibranium and a sample of the heart-shaped herb to Professor Erskine, tipping the balance of power towards the Allies. That makes Steve a product of Wakandan technology. And since the Winter Soldier program was also based off of Erskine's research, so is Bucky. Who could repay his dept to T'Challa and Shuri by working on behalf of Wakanda as the White Wolf.
posted by Uncle Ira at 9:22 AM on February 20 [17 favorites]


One reply to that thread from a Nigerian identifies the writing system as Nsibidi; a further reply says that the movie presents actual Igbo language words.

Oh, good. I was really hoping that it wasn't just a lazy letter-substitution like a lot of movies and TV shows do. I love it when movies take actual care with linguistic things.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 9:52 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


Anybody know where I can get legitimate merchandise? Looking for the official poster, including the Chinese New Year one, and maybe shirts. I know I’m a grown man, don’t judge me!
posted by cashman at 10:56 AM on February 20


Funko Pops are here!.

I bet Disney or Marvel has a bunch of stuff, somewhere online.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:05 AM on February 20


I mentioned this on another forum: My headcanon is that during the 1930s, the King of Wakanda was worried about Hitler's incursions into Africa. He used his Wardogs to smuggle a small amount of Vibranium and a sample of the heart-shaped herb to Professor Erskine, tipping the balance of power towards the Allies. That makes Steve a product of Wakandan technology. And since the Winter Soldier program was also based off of Erskine's research, so is Bucky. Who could repay his dept to T'Challa and Shuri by working on behalf of Wakanda as the White Wolf.

Headcanon accepted. I also think that it probably wasn't an accident that Howard Stark got enough vibranium to make a shield.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:22 AM on February 20 [4 favorites]


Anybody know where I can get legitimate merchandise? Looking for the official poster, including the Chinese New Year one, and maybe shirts. I know I’m a grown man, don’t judge me!

cashman: The Disney Black Panther store.
posted by minsies at 12:20 PM on February 20


On another forum I saw someone point out that Hasbro has Iron Man, the Sub Mariner and Black Bolt in the Black Panther Legends line but no Okoye. WTF, Hasbro.
posted by rewil at 12:25 PM on February 20


OK, there is an Okoye but she's sold in disembodied pieces that you can only assemble by buying characters who aren't in the movie. Not an improvement.
posted by rewil at 12:29 PM on February 20


Yeah, I didn't understand where those were coming from in the Disney store, but that explains it.

On the other hand, this Nakia and Okoye mug is pretty amazing.

(I do not need any more mugs, and yet ...)
posted by minsies at 12:29 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


I also think that it probably wasn't an accident that Howard Stark got enough vibranium to make a shield.

"How much of it were you able to transport to Stark?"

"20 kilograms, my king."

"Good! Just enough to craft a single rudimentary zero point energy generator. The cumulative gains to industrial efficiency should see the Allies comfortably ahead in materiel production by 1944."

[Six months later]

"He made what with it?"
posted by Iridic at 1:30 PM on February 20 [24 favorites]


M'Baku telling him to shut up and him shutting up was very excellent, tho.

I also liked the Jabari guard looming and staring Ross down during the T'Challa reanimation until he finally turned away. Like . . . this is not for you.

This wasn't for me, and I'm glad to have been there.
posted by chainsofreedom at 2:40 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]


Question: in all that Wakandan tech, did anyone notice anything similar to a robot or AI?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:46 PM on February 20


There was a computer voice telling Ross about the lab's shields when he was remote piloting one of the planes. Don't know if that was just for Ross's convenience, or an actual AI a la Tony Stark's JARVIS.
posted by yasaman at 3:01 PM on February 20


Ah true. But nothing high end on the sentience scale. I wonder if that was design choice by the creators i.e. they thought Wakanda wouldn't create AIs.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:04 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]


I loved it. Apart from the amazing chance to see a movie like this that is not about a white American man or even about america at all, I think what was great about it was the family dynamic. It really drove him how most super heroes have had their families/ culture conveniently removed for plot purposes. Instead T'Challa is stuck with his forever but comes to realise they are an asset and not a liability. They went there a little bit with Thor but not like this. Ryan Coogler just did a phenomenal job balancing all that.

Also I was about 25% on Kilmongers side through most of the Movie. Still mad they killed him. I feel like he could have gone either way in the future.
posted by fshgrl at 3:38 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


Y’all are fans of Killmonger, the guy who murdered his domestic partner? Hm!
posted by chrchr at 8:08 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]


Nsibidi is definitely present... but it's a very long stretch to map it to any modern language.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:41 PM on February 20


I wish they had spent less time on the action scenes and more on character development and addressing the isolationism question. I feel like it was a summary of what would have been a very interesting mini-series, and it's tantalizing.
posted by airmail at 9:46 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


The fact that Killmonger used those very same methods to overthrow Wakanda's government, methods he learned from the people and governments he identified as his own oppressors, is some heavy stuff.

Their first mistake was letting him in. Their worse mistake was letting him out!
posted by RobotHero at 10:29 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


If you happen to run across anyone complaining about how unrealistic Wakanda is, simply reply "So is Hogwarts".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:24 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


The idea of the Wakandan embargo on exporting technology and research makes me wonder if Shuri has a list of conferences that she just stalks via Google and Youtube. Or if she has a stack of papers that she's been trying to publish under an alter ego fake name, but keeps getting stalled because she couldn't publish any experiments that actually tipped a hand on how much vibranium exists in Wakanda. I wonder if there are things that the Wakandans haven't solved yet because, say, engaging in space launches will be noticed by the international community.

I wonder if Shuri google stalks interesting researchers in STEM fields and now that the embargo is lifted, she'll show up at the home of Jane Foster or a young Riri Williams and, like a nerd Nick Fury, tells them that she's putting together a team.
posted by bl1nk at 4:50 AM on February 21 [4 favorites]


Interesting! So why then would M'Baku and the Jabari tribe be calling to my monkey, an Indian deity if there ever was one? Glad you thought of asking, briefly and in passing!

Technically this works if I imagine Malayalis doing the Wakandans a solid and never told the Brits about their encounter :D
posted by cendawanita at 5:00 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


another thing I would add about the debate on Wakandan interventionism is that, for me, the major political analogue that I have for Wakanda is Japan. And something that I rather love about BP's afro-futurism is that it's essentially lifted the techno fetishes of anime and a cyberfuture Japan then embedded it in a thoroughly African context.

But politically, I found the idea of Wakanda's isolation resonant with Japan's own reclusive status through much of the 18th and 19th century. It too was a small nation with a fierce military tradition. It had cultural and intellectual sophistication that outperformed many of its neighbors, though its technology was stagnating. It watched on the sidelines as the rest of Asia was carved up by European imperialists and rather than intervene, Japan just did its best to keep all Europeans at arm's length for as long as possible. Then it opened up at just the right time to import technology on its own terms and modernize in its own way, and when a Great Power (Russia) finally tried to make an attempt at conquering Japan, the nation was able to serve up a humiliation at Tsushima and preserve its own independence.

What followed was a surging nationalist confidence and sense of destiny that fed into fascist tendencies that spurred Japan into wanting to invade all of its neighbors in Asia in the name of liberating the continent from the yoke of European colonialism (the Great East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere), but really was just another fascist power grab.

It could've been interesting, if the movie wanted to be a trilogy, to have a middle movie that was basically just Wakanda being WWII Japan/post Cold War America waging a liberation war that bogs down as the realities of conquest, governance, and cultural friction set in, but I think that'd get grimdark really fast and I appreciated the lighter and more superficial take on Wakandan politics. As somebody said earlier, comic book movies rely on a degree of disbelief and credulence. The closer we hold our heroes as solutions to real world problems that more we realize how much of a fantasy they really are.
posted by bl1nk at 5:24 AM on February 21 [4 favorites]


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