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 (429 comments total) 29 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 [32 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 [7 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 [17 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.

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 [5 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 [1 favorite]

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 [27 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 [13 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 [26 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 [15 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 [5 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 [5 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 [1 favorite]

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 [4 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 [12 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 [13 favorites]

I have so many questions about the economy of Wakanda.
posted by zippy at 4:08 AM on February 16 [18 favorites]

the economy of Wakanda is driven by ticket sales and merchandise
posted by kokaku at 5:08 AM on February 16 [27 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 [28 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 [5 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 [43 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 [6 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 [5 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 [50 favorites]

posted by numaner at 7:56 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]

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 [2 favorites]

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 [54 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 [66 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 [42 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 [11 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 [28 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 [38 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 [31 favorites]

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 [3 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 [17 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 [9 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 [8 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 [34 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 [5 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 [12 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 [8 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 [2 favorites]

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 [6 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 [4 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 [29 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 [9 favorites]


Does anyone know which track was playing during the Korean car chase?
posted by sixswitch at 6:52 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]

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 [7 favorites]


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 [24 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 [12 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 [1 favorite]

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 [9 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 [6 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 [13 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 [10 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 [11 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 [7 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 [4 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 [25 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' Very wow.
posted by grandiloquiet at 1:18 PM on February 18 [16 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 [31 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 [28 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 [16 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 [3 favorites]

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 [34 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 [20 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 [8 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 [9 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 [3 favorites]

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 [3 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 [11 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 [3 favorites]

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 [16 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 [5 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 [1 favorite]

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 [21 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 [8 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 [12 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 [14 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 [10 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 [1 favorite]

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 [15 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 [9 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 [13 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 [7 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 [6 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 [33 favorites]

Clearly the true demographic for this movie are development and aid workers
posted by cendawanita at 5:33 AM on February 19 [14 favorites]

I feel like that's not even a joke, it's just true.
posted by brainwane at 6:09 AM on February 19 [4 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 [28 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 [15 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 [6 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.

posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:13 AM on February 19 [16 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 [6 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 [16 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 [6 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 [21 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 [7 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 [3 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 [11 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 [28 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 [31 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 [8 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 [6 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 [4 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 [26 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 [41 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 [2 favorites]

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 [11 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 [8 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 [5 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 [8 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 [5 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 [1 favorite]

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 [23 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 [11 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 [11 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 [6 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 [6 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 [3 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 [28 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 [17 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 [9 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 [2 favorites]

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 [11 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 [2 favorites]

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


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 [10 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 [4 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 [4 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

posted by Halloween Jack at 8:07 AM on February 20 [24 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 [12 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 [13 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 [2 favorites]

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 [30 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 [8 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 [1 favorite]

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 [3 favorites]

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 [70 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 [7 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 [2 favorites]

Y’all are fans of Killmonger, the guy who murdered his domestic partner? Hm!
posted by chrchr at 8:08 PM on February 20 [7 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 [3 favorites]

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 [2 favorites]

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 [17 favorites]

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 [20 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 [15 favorites]

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 [34 favorites]

From the Twitter thread cendawanita linked to above.
(also i joyfully laughed my ass off when M'Baku said his people were vegetarians. Because why wouldn't worshipers of Hanuman be vegetarian?)
Wow! The level of detail in this movie. That joke just got 10x better.
posted by straight at 8:41 AM on February 21 [9 favorites]

Technically this works if I imagine Malayalis doing the Wakandans a solid and never told the Brits about their encounter

I haven't seen the movie again yet, but I vaguely remember the beginning history lesson saying that the tribes weren't united until after the vibranium meteor fell, so perhaps at that point the Malayalis have already influenced the Jabaris and could've left before Wakanda became advanced.
posted by numaner at 9:57 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]

It's nice that Ross's only contribution is saving his own country from Wakandan weapons. He plays no role whatsoever in the conflict over the throne. Other than being a little bit in the way and belatedly giving Team T'Challa a little more information about the kinds of tactics Erik learned from being an American agent.
posted by straight at 10:26 AM on February 21

And on the African Muslim side, in response to a spectacularly dumbass* post claiming the movie is Islamophobic.

*my fellow non-black Muslims showing their butts for absolutely no goddamn reason, except it's now deleted, but i have screencaps [1, 2, 3] because i saw it 2 days ago and it blew my mind. Highlights include: having the Boko Haram analogue is Islamophobic, showing women who took off that style of hijab like as though it's the only kind of head covering tht exists for Muslims is Islamophobic, terrorists saying wallahi is Islamophobic.

I will update this thread if Christians start showing up with hot takes.
posted by cendawanita at 10:45 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]

gorillas are vegetarian

I went to see this Monday, at the little cheap local cinema and then again on Tuesday with a friend at the swankier more expensive cinema in town (but still on a discount day.) We thought we'd be safe not booking as it's been on for a week and the weekend is over and kids are back at school after half term holidays. The. Place. Was. Packed. Not one single free seat. Audience was maybe 5% black but it was noticeable how black people were there in families: old people obviously with their adult children or couples with lots of teenage children.

I like the film better now I've had a think about it, because there were a few things I was - am? - ambivalent about. It's really hard to purely enjoy things you know are real when presented as fantasy elements! I mean when you know what kind of distance - cultural, historical, spatial - separate Fulani from Masai, seeing them presented as part of the same kingdom is distracting! So I had a kind of double consciousness flickering on and off throughout the film both times I watched it, which I'm guessing may be common to African viewers. But at the same time I enjoyed identifying: Oh, they've based this on Fulani and Toureg (the Merchants) - they've based this on Sotho people (with the magic techno blankets) - they've based this on Masai and Himba people etc. The music added to the distraction in sometimes using Malian instruments and the style of griot court music. That is a very specific thing to borrow for worldbuilding! And there were no Malian or Cote d'Ivoire or Burkino Fasoian musicians mentioned in the credits, though I may have missed it. Just now I found this online about Ludwig Göransson, who wrote the score, collaborating with Baaba Maal for it - there's a video, haven't watched it yet. That singing and drumming certainly sounded authentic, but in that case, where are the composer/collaborator credits for the musicians? I'm hoping further research will give a good, fair answer.

I found it visually ravishing all the same. In fact I was so busy just looking at everything I missed a lot of plot on the first viewing. And I tended to lose the thread of the plot completely while gazing at Lupita Nyong'o in extreme close up because she's such a fantastic beauty. Or when any of those women were striding across the screen or talking or anything other than actively kicking ass.

What I missed on first viewing was the structure and the direction of the story. I missed the mirroring going on between T'Chala and Erik which we see acted out episode by episode: both kings, both ritually accepted, both meeting their dead father on the dream plane, both holding their dead father after a murder. I at first found the story too simple, like, what is this, Lion King all over again? I missed that so much of the complexity was not in the bare bones of the story but in weaving that story into historical and current reality. I was like, this Eric guy so fine, why not give him something more to do than this one note of rage? I didn't see the actor has taken his considerable charisma and versatility and channeled it forcibly into that one note. Truth is, I had not been listening. During Eric's dream ritual, and during his death scene, I had my shields up in the cinema for both viewings. But now, introspecting, those scenes hurt. So painful. They deliver a hard truth that's difficult to look at: the lost. The dead who are lost and the living too: those who were lost in the ocean and the young men whose only response to a problem is to kill it. The child soldiers who only know killing. The young men who hurt their own communities almost as much as anything else does. And just as T'Chaka abandoned the boy it's everybody's fault those young men are lost, apart from the women in their communities who look after them and look out for them, only to be hurt and damaged by them almost as much as by other oppressors. I mean, good job Ryan Coogler for sneaking that into a super hero movie.

Actually I think I loved the film but it's taken two days. More ambivalent feelings: bloody LotR CGI animated battle animal battle scenes. The Jabaris and recovering racist tropes, does that work? Talked about this with my friend, who made comparisons with the movement to reclaim 'queer'. I'm not 100% sure the Jabaris being so wonderful reclaims the racist trope. It remains to be seen.

Things I loved from the very first moment: the Dora Milaje (any Xhosa speaker know what would be the singular?); ALL OF THE WOMEN; that red dress in the fight leaping over the balcony and surfing on the roof of the car; all of Shuri's outfits; the spectacle, the Afrofuturism, the fabulous detail of costume and scene; Daniel Kaluuya for actually managing to make his character plausible and sympathetic, he really is a fantastic actor; WINSTON DUKE. Ok, everything about the Jabaris, even though it gave me pause that there's an ape tribe for obvious reasons. The beautiful wood. The community coming out fighting - the woman we see bashing someone in the last battle got a big cheer.
posted by glasseyes at 11:25 AM on February 21 [8 favorites]

So I was sure Mr. Supercool Winston Duke was Nigerian and probably Igbo, and on looking him up he made a determined effort to research and model just that ethnicity. And he was note perfect.

Your character is representing a whole separate culture that lives apart from everyone else in Wakanda, the Jabari tribe. What was it like, carrying all that in just a few scenes?
It wasn't, I wouldn't say, any kind of a burden, it was more like a really great challenge and opportunity, to really develop something, to really craft a new world within Wakanda, a separate playing space. The rest of the creative team did a really good job creating the space and making a set that was both organic and full of story in itself—the fact that [the Jabari] prize themselves and revere Jabari wood, their entire city is made of that wood.

I worked on Nigerian and Nigerian Igbo influences, trying to develop a different kind of culture of call and response and vocality that was different than the rest of Wakanda, for the Jabari.We worked on just having the presence—something that was different, but still felt cohesive because of its variety. And all that was supported by the costumes, all that was supported by the rest of the design team. It's really fulfilling, because I had an additional job, and it felt deeply worthwhile. And it really made me understand that when M'Baku says "we," it's because he really understands his responsibility. It really elevated that character out of a space of being ego-driven—he's not ego-driven, like the character in the comics. He's driven by his responsibilities, but he has a very particular way of achieving his goals.

Oh man, the character in the comics is really problematic. [We changed that to bring a] deep pride, deep strength, deep introspection, awareness of self, and awareness of his perception, and wielding that to his advantage at all times. Being able to go from extremely intimidating to charming at a moment's notice. He's very much able to do a lot of different things, and I wanted to make sure all those things were there. Because we all needed to convey that this guy is actually deeply beloved by his people. They don't fear him, they love him. When he says "we," he really means "we." It's Jabari men and women that run and ride into battle. And when he shows up again in act three, one of the strong images is a Jabari woman jumping in and smashing one of the guys. There's just something about the idea that his entire people, I believe is his army. That's my understanding of it. Yeah, when Nakia says "I'm a spy who has no army," that's why they're going to him. He and his people are the army.

We noticed in the credits that the choreographer and tribal movement coach is named Jabari, so that's a nice tribute.
posted by glasseyes at 11:25 AM on February 21 [12 favorites]

You know, part of the thorough detailing of the analogy Coogler has created is, Erik doesn't even have his own name. I cringe to call him 'Killmonger'. He's a monster created by oppression and assimilation on one side and ruthless abandonment and isolationism on the other.

cendawanita, That was interesting, and a jolly good faceboof post, from a Hausa person. The thing it's pushing back on may be expected I guess, though I can't imagine having sympathy for Boko Haram unless your own personal circumstances are exceptionally secure.

I noticed not a lot of posters upstream specifically made the connection between Nakia's mission and the Chibok girls. I guess it's yet another detail that shows how plugged in to black and diasporic issues Ryan Coogler is.
posted by glasseyes at 11:42 AM on February 21 [3 favorites]

Reading that Islamophobia screed reminds me.. What was the story with the early raid against Boko Haram? Nakia has been long undercover with them to break them up. Were Wakandans victims of that kidnapping group? Or is Wakanda exerting state power outside their hidden kingdom?
posted by Nelson at 11:53 AM on February 21

Nakia, independent of Wakanda, which doesn't care that much, is exerting her own queenly spy activist power to rescue the girls having gone incognito to get kidnapped with them. T'Challa gets involved cos he has to bring Nakia home, he's in sympathy with the mission, plus he wants to please her. Okoye helps, not as part of state foreign relations, but as the kings bodyguard once he freezes.

I think. Or the above might be fan fiction. Maybe I'll have to watch it again.
posted by glasseyes at 12:01 PM on February 21 [6 favorites]

The piece by Adam Serwer is excellent, thanks for posting it.
posted by glasseyes at 12:19 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]

Y’all are fans of Killmonger, the guy who murdered his domestic partner? Hm!

I can't speak fro anyone else but I was a fan of getting a complex, human villain with real reasons to be the way he was. The family story really pulled me in and I think glassyes expresses that perfectly. How we turn out the way we are and why. Thanks for th additional context glasseyes.

Marvel is not so good at that. Superhero stories in general aren't, it's all lone wolf ex-assassins or orphan last survivors or pure evil for no reason or whatever. Black Panther was so much richer and more satisfying and yes, ambiguous, than most super hero movies because they didn't make it simple and take those story telling shortcuts. It made for a movie with a lot going on and a lot of mixed feelings about characters and (some) genuine suspense about choices they would make and disappointment when they did what they did. That's good storytelling.
posted by fshgrl at 12:58 PM on February 21 [4 favorites]

I keep seeing takes that compare T'Challa to Killmonger as if they're on equal moral footing, which i think is totally weird framing. Killmonger is a murderer and seems to want the world to destroy itself, and he wants to use Wakanda to do it, seemingly out of revenge. Killmonger isn't right at all. He's not even wrong. He's not operating on the same plane of right/wrong that T'Challa is. Yet he drives T'Challa's decision to abandon Wakanda's isolationist policy because Killmonger personifies its failure.
posted by chrchr at 1:54 PM on February 21 [6 favorites]

I feel like a lot of the "Killmonger was right" takes underplay how risky it is for Wakanda to open up. They might have the tech, but there have been so many rich, powerful, technologically-advanced nations that were overrun by imperialists in the end. Granted, the movie itself kind of glosses over it, too - you don't see T'Challa deliberating with the elders, or the entire country debating probably the most important decision in Wakanda's history.

Also, paraphrasing from a Twitter thread which I've unfortunately lost: Erik might be Wakandan by blood, but he feels entitled to lead a country he's never set foot in before in his life, and that is one of the most American things about him.
posted by airmail at 2:22 PM on February 21 [34 favorites]

And Tech isn't really a great advantage when it comes to resisting imperialism. I keep going back to the idea of patents vs corporate secrets. Stepping into the light provides a modicum of protections, but it's also usually putting a clock on your technological advantage.

I'd like to think that it was Nakia that planted those seeds. That it was a long cultural discussion, but one that always skewed towards the timid path. They can always open up later, but once they do, they can't take back that decision. Erik's arrival only highlighted that they might not have a choice in how or when they are discovered. That it would only take one individual choosing to expose them to the world. So they might as well control the narrative.
posted by politikitty at 4:27 PM on February 21 [5 favorites]

Y’all are fans of Killmonger, the guy who murdered his domestic partner? Hm!

To build on fshgirl's comment, being a fan of Erik Killmonger does not equate to endorsing or approving of all of his actions. I mean, first of all, he's fictional, and his crimes are fictional. That's not to denigrate the value and impact of art or fiction, it's just to point out that there are no real people he murdered, there are no real victims of his crimes. When we talk about Erik, and when we express admiration or interest or sympathy for him, we're talking about him as a fictional character. I think it's a mark of what an extraordinarily well-drawn and compelling character and antagonist he is that his character has generated the volume of discussion and analysis that it has.

The fact that a character does bad things or is a bad person does not suddenly, magically render them off limits to discussion or even fandom. Is fandom gonna get gross about it? Yeah, they are, because some subset of fandom's always gonna get gross about their problematic villain faves. But even the "Killmonger was right" hot takes are more about the ideology and response to oppression that the character represents more than Erik himself. In this particular thread, I'm not seeing much in the way of uncritical fangirling/fanboying of Erik.

But yeah, I'm a "fan" of Erik Killmonger as a character, inasmuch as I think he's fascinating and tragic, and I'll be happy to spill and take in a lot of digital ink over analyzing and discussing him. In my particular tradition of media fandom, to be a fan of a work or a character doesn't mean I think they're perfect and right.
posted by yasaman at 4:35 PM on February 21 [9 favorites]

Has anybody seen anything from Ta-Nehisi Coates Post-the movie coming out?
posted by cashman at 4:52 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'm a fan of Killmonger in the same way that I'm a fan for Gerard de Villefort in the Count of Monte Cristo or Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek. They're such delicious foils for the protagonist and have at least a few decent ideas, even if their attempts to actualize them end up wrong.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 5:06 PM on February 21 [4 favorites]

Well there's this event that happened last night and I am really REALLY sad I hadn't heard about it: Ta-Nehisi Coates draws excited crowd at special Oakland screening of 'Black Panther'.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:13 PM on February 21 [4 favorites]

Ta-Nehisi will also be collaborating with Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan on a film about the Atlantic Public School cheating scandal.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:18 PM on February 21 [5 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.

I think there are a few reasons for Oakland, specifically. Guilt about Killmonger certainly, but on the many levels this film operates on I think there's also something about Ryan Coogler growing up in the East Bay and what that was like for him (he would have been six in 1992). The cultural center also references the Black Panther Party and their outreach in the community in which they began, aka the "survival programs". These included free school breakfasts, medical clinics, history programs, an ambulance program, and self defense classes. And as a plot device is just a nice way to wrap up the story.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:45 PM on February 21 [12 favorites]

totally agree! on my subsequent rewatches I really did beam a bit once the story returns to Oakland because of that rl connection, as I was only vaguely aware at my first viewing so while I was also "!" at first, it's after reading more details made me really appreciate it. And it's got to mean something also since the movie starts with Erik and N'Jobu recounting the fairytale that is Wakanda.

re: non-black Muslims - idek, my southeast asian Muslim crowd is mostly agog (and tbh a little unsurprised) at the middle-east and south asian muslims taking up all the air in the room in that convo.
posted by cendawanita at 6:21 PM on February 21 [3 favorites]

Late to the party but - finally got to watch this with my teenage son yesterday. The night before, we watched Wonder Woman, and were severely disappointed (it is just a bad film, and the whole build-up of how 'empowering' the WW character was ... she wasn't). Then we saw Black Panther, and my teenage son was so impressed with the women. But not just the women - to him, strong women is just normal. It was the Wakandans who were great. Which gives me hope - there is a generation coming up where women fighting, thinking, developing and leading besides the men, being just as strong and just as flawed, is considered normal.
posted by Megami at 10:02 PM on February 21 [4 favorites]

Something that occurred to me only fleetingly when I was watching the movie and remembered just now:

Did those lip tattoos glow on their own, and if so, does that imply that they're vibranium-infused? I find myself wondering what kind of metal toxicity problems you might get with vibranium. (I mean, obviously people are okay with small tattoos, but still...)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:09 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]

Wakanda tech probably takes care of any metal toxicity problems.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:45 AM on February 22

There's room for nuanced debate over Killmonger's motivations and goals, but there's one thing about him that is an absolute, 100% certainty:

Killmonger is Vegeta.

posted by Uncle Ira at 8:15 AM on February 22 [7 favorites]

‘Black Panther’: Choose Your Weapons - "This is the kind of double, or triple, entendre we expect from a comic book film, so familiar we pretty much slide over all that it implicates: masculinity, power, violence, money, and even the sly hint of overcompensation for a fragile ego. But the way that Black Panther uses weapons—the way it plays with them and makes them metaphors—becomes far more interesting as it proceeds. It is the crux of the film’s plot and affords some of its most striking visual and dramatic effects. Weaponry also predictably contours the film’s politics, and perhaps less predictably, its ethics."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:47 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]

saw this on Sunday night; full of feelings, but not enough time to read the chat and catch up. placeholder comment, but--as with Yasaman, I'm an enormous fan of Erik as a villain, in part because I can see so much potential in him that has been warped and left to sit and rot and develop a cancer.

I also think that in any argument about interventionism, morality and politics about Wakanda's responsibility both to all Africa and to the greater African diaspora, Nakia would blow him out of the water. I am endlessly impressed with the movie's drumbeat theme of listen to women, listen to women and the competence and power of Nakia and Okoye in particular, and I don't think it's remotely coincidental that Erik's first and only interaction as an adult with another African-American that we see on screen ends in him killing her at the first sign of inconvenience.

I have so much to say about this movie--I took eight pages of notes watching it which range from "I so want T'Challa and Thor to sit down and have a Conversation" to "how the fuck did Wakanda react to the Perry Expedition?" to "What would Queen Nzinga have thought of you, Wakanda?" to "nations turn on the decisions of all of us" to "that is not the easiest way to bring down a rhino, go for the knees." I have to transcribe them, still, because my handwriting is appalling.

I just--god damn. have been belching my own discussions over on my tumblr now and again this week, but want to listen to MeFi folks too.
posted by sciatrix at 1:09 PM on February 22 [11 favorites]

That's a great essay.

Every kill he has sold (a monger is a seller) has presumably been executed with a firearm. As if in imitation of the bullets he’s embedded in others, he decorates his torso and arms with little round scars. They have an “African” look to them. They could be beads or a mancala game or leopard’s spots or just scars—cicatrization is a common form of body modification across the continent. But they also reminded me of branding and tabulation charts, that is, the weaponry of the transatlantic slave trade.

Yeah, there's another element to the iconography: a leopard's spots. Erik is Leopard to T'Challa's Panther. Best if you don't go looking up Leopard Men on the internet though, most links are Edgar Rice Burroughs levels of awful.
posted by glasseyes at 1:29 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]

I was so mad at the trailer showing him bare-chested with his leopard spots. Once he flashes his forearm and explains they're his kills, you realize just how impressive that reveal is supposed to be at the challenge fight.

I realize it's not the biggest spoiler. But he's so charismatic, you want to downplay how murdery he is. Sure he killed his girlfriend. But maybe they've talked about contingencies and agreed it was better to go fast than be a hostage. Sure, he's killed a few people in combat and the subsequent life of crime, but that's part of the job. Sure, he memorializes his kills. But that's so he doesn't forget them and become desensitized to it.

And by the time the challenge hits, you realize that he's just murdery and wants to watch the world burn. All the political talk is true. But he's lost the ability to consider making it better.
posted by politikitty at 2:13 PM on February 22 [11 favorites]

Yes, and if you're sensitive to what the leopard represents, it works with his explanation and the reveal to make that moment full of dread. I hadn't thought of that, actually.
posted by glasseyes at 6:17 PM on February 22

Ok, so I loved this movie, but can we talk again about amending the Wakandan constitution?

A highly advanced society that relies on *physical* combat to adjudicate a leadership challenge, really? That's even worse than strange women lying in ponds distributing swords as a basis for a system of government. The system pretty much rules out anyone who is not physically suited to hand-to-hand combat in a waterfall, and Wakanda really feels like it needed more of a diplomat in power, even if that was just to manage the inter-tribe tensions. Couldn't they have amended their traditions in, say, 1970 or so, to require maybe a battle of wits in the driving/flying simulator? Is this one more way in which the previous king failed?

Other than that - not as many laughs as Thor: Ragnarok, the villain had a few dials turned up to cartoonish (why kill his partner? why promise to kill children?), but otherwise a rather thoughtful exploration of two defensible positions - engage with the world, or America Wakanda First isolationism? And absolutely gorgeous sets and costumes and sound, wonderful family relationships, and a whole bunch of strong female characters (mother, sister, general, ex). Just fantastic work.
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:32 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]

the villain had a few dials turned up to cartoonish (why kill his partner? why promise to kill children?)

I don't think either of these things were cartoonish, nor were they meant to be cartoonish. Why kill his partner, why be violent against so many black women? Because Erik Killmonger demonstrates the toxic masculinity and misogynoir that have been all too seductive and poisonous, both in the black community and among men in general. No revolution, violent or otherwise, can succeed without black women, and we see that play out in the movie.

Why promise to kill children? I thought this was a deliberate evocation of Nat Turner's slave rebellion.
posted by yasaman at 9:17 PM on February 22 [15 favorites]

(why kill his partner? why promise to kill children?)

The theme of children conscripted and abandoned into murder and war was set up at the beginning of the film in the Boko Haram scene and then elaborated throughout with regards to Erik. More and more I'm seeing the immense subtlety and thoroughness of the ways the film weaves a commentary on current and historical issues to do with black liberation. It's been three days and I've moved from 'Yeah it was good, there's just one or two little things' to 'It was fantastic.'

still worried about the attributions for the Malian music tho especially after that video
posted by glasseyes at 2:03 AM on February 23 [8 favorites]

why kill his partner?

Didn't want to, but he had to get Klaw to get support when he got back into Wakanda. How did he know all those dynamics? Who knows!

why promise to kill children?

Why not? He was going to wage a bloody war.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:39 AM on February 23

Finally saw it. I expected to enjoy it, but was surprised by how much I was moved by it.

Is fandom gonna get gross about it? Yeah, they are, because some subset of fandom's always gonna get gross about their problematic villain faves.

Is it weird that it would almost represent a form of progress if the villain-woobifying brigade in fandom (I love me some villains and morally grey characters and am always up for arguing about Why the Heroes Might Not Be So Heroic After All, but watching some women mindlessly carry out the training they've received to excuse and justify the behavior of attractive/powerful men can be really distasteful) latched onto a black man for once? Because ordinarily they do not.

The only thing that really bothered me was the erasure of Erik's mother. I realize that part of that is thematic--he is a man without a powerful female presence around him, and that signifies his lack of balance and restraint, among other things. But, guys, it is by no means immediately evident that leaving your nephew with his mother instead of kidnapping him to a foreign country is wrong, as we were told. Not providing support, both material and emotional, sure. But acting like his mother didn't matter--like leaving him with her was ABANDONMENT and like she didn't have any say in how he was to be raised--that really troubled me. (Further, for his character, it makes a big difference whether he grew up in a single-parent but otherwise functional home or whether he, e.g., had to bounce around the system.)
posted by praemunire at 10:36 AM on February 23 [10 favorites]

Oh, yeah, and the Wakanda political structure was a teeeeensy bit glossed over. But I did feel that the point of the challenge ceremony, at least at this stage of Wakandan history, is not the fight--I bet there hadn't been a fight for a couple of centuries, at least. The point is the would-be king using his political skills to persuade the tribes in advance to yield to his leadership. It's just demonstrated in an archaic ritual form, by not invoking the traditional right to single combat.
posted by praemunire at 10:44 AM on February 23 [3 favorites]

I suspect a great many of Erik's more reprehensible, possibly cartoonish actions were there to make him more of a villain, and thus distinguish him from T'Challa, precisely because the filmmakers anticipated that a lot of viewers were going to look at his plan to use Wakandan technology to liberate the oppressed African diaspora and go, yeah, goddamn right. As indeed they have very loudly done.

If you agree with Erik that Wakanda needs to do more to help the downtrodden - and even T'Challa accepts this in the end and acts upon it - and he's not obviously, blatantly villainous (killing his girlfriend, choking the gardener, etc.) then why would you be on T'Challa's side instead of his? It muddies the film more than Marvel would allow certainly (this is still a huge commercial property after all), and probably more than the writer and director intended.
posted by Naberius at 10:49 AM on February 23 [5 favorites]

I had the impression that the challenge wasn't open to just any asshole who shows up - the challengers are heads (and thus, generally proven leaders) of the four other tribes. The only reason that Killmonger was allowed a shot at all was that he was a lost son, with an otherwise legit claim to the throne. (and all of this is symbolically powerful, as Killmonger's in many ways a stand-in for the African diaspora, cut off and carrying whole boatloads of extra baggage.)

OTOH, yeah, watery tarts, etc.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:54 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]

His plan was not truly liberation, but the creation of a Wakandan Empire. He explicitly identifies this as his aim in his council scene after assuming kingship.

The movie actually goes to some lengths to delineate possible models or methods of engagement--from a benign withholding (T'chaka) to one driven at least in part by xenophobia (W'kabi) to one focused on positive cultural and financial assistance (Nakia) to one of more overt military engagement, but not driven by conquest (I think many of the Dora Milaje might have accepted something like this, along with the elders who supported the mission against Klawe) to the outright spreading of violence driven by a lust for power disguised as justice (Killmonger). One can fairly say that perhaps there should have been an example of supporting revolution without imperialism (though, historically, when we're talking strictly about state action, does that genuinely exist...? I mean, anywhere...?), but it's really not black-or-white "Killmonger's way or T'chaka's, there are no alternatives."
posted by praemunire at 10:56 AM on February 23 [7 favorites]

I had the impression that the challenge wasn't open to just any asshole who shows up

I think you're right, and that's the other big, obvious flaw in the system. But I think that the combat structure per se was akin to, e.g., Black Rod banging on the door and being sent away: a ritual reminder of a more violent past which is now deployed in a different way.
posted by praemunire at 10:58 AM on February 23 [3 favorites]

I assume "Killmonger did nothing wrong" was a phrase chosen to echo the meme

For comics fans, I think that rather it (or "Killmonger was right") is an echo of "Magneto was right" (another controversial Erik seeking to redress racial injustice through violence). The circles I've seen those phrases used in are...really not made up of Hitler stans.
posted by praemunire at 11:25 AM on February 23 [7 favorites]

I saw it for the 4th time last night, and this was the first time I picked upon the "when the time of man came" part of the introduction story of Wakanda, which made me realize that the vibranium meteor struck long before humans settled there, which also helps explain (at least for me) why there are so many cultural influences, since these were all different tribes from all over, likely fighting over the same part of land because, while vibranium might not have had its name then, they could probably tell it had special properties.

It also explains the vast amounts of technological progress because they've been doing it for thousands of years. It's also my understanding, based on the introduction, that they only decided to hide themselves once the colonizers etc. started to do serious damage (and can also explain the different tribal influences, since perhaps they weren't hidden away for all those thousands of years, just for maybe a hundred or so).

This was also the first time Shuri's "How many times do I have to tell you, brother: just because something works, doesn't mean it can't be made better" hit a more meta mark than just the technological mark. Just because Wakanda's been successful in taking care of its people by hiding itself away for so long, doesn't mean that it can't do better by taking steps to share itself with the world.

Someone else has probably picked up on these, but I love that this is the kind of movie that really rewards re-watches. (Like I hope to do yet again, as I convince someone to go with me this weekend. Hopefully. Or I might just see it on my own. Again.)
posted by paisley sheep at 12:29 PM on February 23 [11 favorites]

(and can also explain the different tribal influences, since perhaps they weren't hidden away for all those thousands of years, just for maybe a hundred or so).

They absolutely have to have been hidden away for longer than just 100 years or so. Recall when the slave trade started, for one. Colonizers have been crawling all over Africa for longer than just a hundred years. My assumption was that colonial incursions into Africa were part of the impetus for going fully hidden with closed borders, and before then, they were protected by sheer geographic isolation (the mountains, etc). Before any significant colonial incursions and before the rest of the world caught up to Wakanda technologically in any meaningful way, there wouldn't have been as much to worry about, security-wise. And some cultural exchange and travel must have happened, if you take the worship of Hanuman at face value (i.e., it wasn't native to Wakanda in the MCU, it still came over from India). Plus they reference Bast too, an Egyptian deity.

I also assume the meteor must have struck long before humans entered the picture, because as someone above-thread pointed out, that would be an extinction-level event otherwise. I don't know enough about the history of sub-Saharan Africa to put a date on when Wakanda could have been founded, but my assumption was that it was not at all recent. N'Jobu's compressing an awful lot of history in that little opening fairy tale he's telling to Erik, who is after all a child.
posted by yasaman at 4:10 PM on February 23 [4 favorites]

Yes, from about the sixth century to the sixteenth century AD it would have been difficult to imagine the white Western world as representing an existential threat to basically any other country that had its shit together. But, e.g., the Ottomans may have been a problem from the fourteenth century on, and before that, Byzantium.
posted by praemunire at 4:53 PM on February 23

it's still possibly a more benign encounter because for a lot of reasons western imperialist expansions acted in unusually aggressive ways compared to previous empires (confluence of technological advancement mostly that served ethnocentric notions, no?). most other empires that would've encountered wakanda would've been more into trade in that part of the world (simply because other factors still made it the most likely approach) rather than full-scale military engagement, and also perhaps their cartographers and explorers just never got to mapping wakanda extensively, and by the time the western nations could do that, wakanda made the active decision to go into hiding and not just counting on benign neglect.
posted by cendawanita at 7:25 PM on February 23

western imperialist expansions acted in unusually aggressive ways compared to previous empires

I am puzzled by this statement. Empires don't get built by accident, even by nonwestern peoples. It's a particularly odd thing to say in the context of the Ottomans--I would not expect a random Westerner to know the details of, say, the various Chinese imperial expansions over the years (my own grasp is pretty weak), but the Ottomans were really the last great external avowed foe of the West until the twentieth century. They conquered much of what we now think of as Eastern Europe. They laid siege to Vienna!

In fact, one thing I appreciated about the movie is that it did not indulge in the weird implication one hears sometimes that nonwhite peoples have an unusual ability to possess power in a morally pure way. The Wakandans made an unusual choice about what to do with their power, but it still involved ethical tradeoffs and lapses. And the choice, and the decision to keep sticking with it, were by no means predetermined.
posted by praemunire at 11:12 PM on February 23 [8 favorites]

No worries, I was also being unclear. I was thinking of the 'guns, germs and steel' hypothesis when I typed that out, ie it wasn't just the internal nature of western powers, just the confluence of factors, technological, historical and political, that had a magnified impact to their expansion.
posted by cendawanita at 11:42 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]

I keep saying to my boys that I'm sick of super hero movies and then Ragnarok comes out and Black Panther comes out and I'm blown away. I loved everything about them. I'll make an exception for every future movie that features these particular characters, until they get stupid too.
posted by h00py at 5:32 AM on February 24 [3 favorites]

To those decrying the Wakandan monarchy: No spoilers, but you may enjoy the current Ta-Nehisi Coates-scripted comics run. I think there are two or three collections out by now; the glorious art by Brian Stelfreeze is a bonus.

I was glad to read above that Winston Duke deliberately drew on Nigerian culture for M'Baku; I'd previously read this review by the marvellous Luvvie Ajayi:
The other person who had me cracking up was M’Baku, leader of the Jabari men. From the first time we saw him, he was full of shenanigans.

But when I truly fell in love with him was when he interrupted a nice, sappy moment by asking them annoyingly “Are you done?” I HOLLERED! I was like “this is a correct pesin.” And then I realized he was clearly a Nigerian. The Jabari Tribe must be Nigerian. Why? “Are you done?” is classic Naija. Also, they’re rude AF, talk mad shit, and like to face their front in conflict. Plus, they can’t be on time for shit. They are not the ones who will show up as an event starts. M’Baku and his squad gon roll in when you start folding chairs, with their takeaway containers. I know my people when I see us.
On a more serious note, from Caffeinated Living on her young daughter's reaction to the film:
I expected her to feel empowered. I expected her to feel beautiful. I expected her to feel brilliant. I expected her to feel awe.

What I didn't expect? That she would feel LOSS. Since coming home from #BlackPanther, she keeps saying to me sadly, "Mommy, they took that from us."

After hearing the Xhosa-inspired language of #Wakanda, after seeing the pictures of the varied, real African cultures that inspired the hair & the clothes - after that followed loss.

she's 10

it's 2018

And it just hit her heart what would have been hers if not for the slave trade.
And OK, vibranium isn't a real thing-- but the question of where Africa and *the world* would be now without the blight of colonisation and enslavement is valid, timely and moving. Obviously this is far from the first time it's been raised, but:

As a well-intentioned but often error-prone white person, I've held those evils in my head and in my social conscience-- but I don't think I properly felt in my heart the hugeness of the injustice, the breaking of the world, the loss of all that might have been-- till I saw this movie and read what people were saying about it.

And I know the accurate reply to that is "Hello, white person! This thing that's a revelation to you has been my lived truth, and my family's, and my community's, for as long as I can remember." So this is the only platform on which I've said anything about this, because it is emphatically not my place to analyse this movie, and my reactions don't matter worth a damn.

Still. Great movie, and I look forward to seeing it again.
posted by Pallas Athena at 12:32 PM on February 24 [15 favorites]

Some people have been skeptical of the hype, saying this is just one movie, there have been significant African-American movies before, why all the fuss about this one?

I won't presume to try to say what it means for black people, but one thing it means for white people is that the bar has been well and truly raised. Nobody can ignore a movie this prominent and this successful. After this, if a filmmaker tries to use lazy stereotypes of Africa, or women characters who are only there to be things in the man's story, we can point to Black Panther and say, "You can do better. You can do better and make lots of money! Why aren't you doing better?"
posted by straight at 12:46 PM on February 24 [11 favorites]

I suspect a great many of Erik's more reprehensible, possibly cartoonish actions were there to make him more of a villain, and thus distinguish him from T'Challa, precisely because the filmmakers anticipated that a lot of viewers were going to look at his plan to use Wakandan technology to liberate the oppressed African diaspora and go, yeah, goddamn right.

The impression I got was just the opposite. It seemed to me the filmmakers were saying that atrocities like the ones Erik talks about and the things he does are inevitable results of going down that path. A country that tries to be a world military power is going to need warriors like Erik, is going to create people like Erik. Erik is an American and he wants Wakanda to be the new America.

So really you could say that the filmmakers purposely made Erik so attractive to make his otherwise horrifying plans seem more attractive.
posted by straight at 12:52 PM on February 24 [7 favorites]

I mean we don't have to imagine what it would be like to have one country that makes the most overwhelmingly deadly weapons in the world and sends them around the world to those it deems allies.
posted by straight at 1:04 PM on February 24 [12 favorites]

vibranium isn't a real thing

Yes, but the resource curse probably is. That's one of the things to like about the scenario--that Wakanda managed to avoid both the internal and external resource-driven conflicts which have been so harmful to so many African (and other) countries, the former by developing an effective and apparently relatively equitable government, the latter by avoiding Western observation and thus exploitation.
posted by praemunire at 2:15 PM on February 24 [4 favorites]

OK, cute new interview with Lupita Nyong'o and Trevor Noah, a lot of it because this is after all the massive reception so it's a bit like a victory walk, and she talked about how it's being received. I thought it's interesting that she noted that she's getting really deep quality questions when promoting this superhero movie in a way that's so unexpected compared to her debut in Twelve Years A Slave.
posted by cendawanita at 6:50 AM on February 25 [4 favorites]

Winston Duke (M'Baku) will be on AM Joy (MSNBC) in a moment.
posted by cashman at 8:31 AM on February 25

> The UN HQ seems to be in Vienna for MCU??

Well, the U.N. does have a major complex in Vienna, often referred to as "U.N. Headquarters", the "Vienna U.N. Headquarters" and similar (see for example the wikipedia article about the complex), and the establishing shot in the movie looked exactly like it.
posted by flug at 12:11 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]

This is confusing me - wasn't the UN HQ in Vienna the one that was attacked in Civil War when T'Challa's father died? I can see going there to tie the story together, but wasn't it destroyed? Or as significant time passed?
posted by crossoverman at 2:26 PM on February 25

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

I don't think "US Government black op is evil" is anything new, that is basically Bourne Identity, Nick Fury, the Avengers, and the whole plot of "Winter Soldier", also the "Punisher" tv series. You can't handle the truth!

What's new is daring to construct and assert a positive vision of an alternative. And an alternative to US Colonialism to boot. that's daring, because the US has had 40 years of "there is no alternative" politics.

The typical plot is "US Government black op is super evil, but necessary evil" because cold war, dirty commies, mumble mumble we forget why, but whoops! it blew up in our faces.

Black Panther presents "US Govt black ops are super evil, and here's how a good government acts against that. By the way, we took Jason Bourne, now we're going to make him fight for us."

it kinda sucks that this is all a setup for "Wakanda leads the Earth against the Aliens", because Thanos isn't nearly as compelling a villain. on the other hand, I think Marvel will do a better job than "Independence Day"
posted by eustatic at 2:28 PM on February 25 [5 favorites]

Re: UN in Vienna

I was amused for personal rl reasons, mainly because addressing the Gen Assembly as I think what this movie and Civil War were doing, should very much take place in NY in our reality, and not in one of the regional HQs. But hey, it must be different, since Wales is a separate member state of this UN apparently!
posted by cendawanita at 3:14 PM on February 25

I saw the movie Friday, and since then I’ve been playing the soundtrack on constant repeat. Every time Pray For Me plays is time for my hourly crying over baby Erik Killmonger. WHAT THE FUCK, T’CHAKA, YOU ASSHOLE.

I’ve never loved T’Challa more than when he basically willed himself back to life through the power of telling all his beloved spiritual ancestors to go fuck themselves with the idea that it’s cool to abandon orphans or hand Wakanda over to an imperialist dictator if you do it for the status quo. Stand in your wrongness and be wrong, spirit world‼

T’Challa walked away from Omelas. I’m so fucking proud.
posted by nicebookrack at 11:22 PM on February 25 [16 favorites]

T’Chaka and T’Challa are suddenly given the same choice, to risk the life of one person (Erik, Ross) or risk the inviolate secrecy of Wakanda. For both men, the arguments are hugely stacked in favor of one choice: T’Chaka for saving Erik (literally his nephew/blood/family in a culture that prizes family and royal blood, already half Wakandan, helpless innocent orphan alone in the world) and T’Challa for leaving Ross (basically an annoying stranger, dangerous political background, COLONIZER, not innocent in any sense of the world, trained soldier who knew exactly what he was risking when he chose to shield Nakia under gunfire).

But T’Chaka chose to abandon Erik because he was a Black Panther protector of #WakandaOnly, while T’Challa is a pure cinnamon roll hero down to his bones who can’t let an a decent guy die through T’Challa’s inaction.

Fuck, the writing in this movie is beautifully balanced in thematic parallels.
posted by nicebookrack at 1:25 AM on February 26 [8 favorites]

Wouldn’t, because vibranium is, well, VIBRANIUM, mean a meteor of it would not be an extinction level event?

Heck, maybe it just resonated in a way to kick start the tectonic shifting that broke up Pangea.

One thing I noticed in the separate plane little death visits were that the main characters were crying. Were allowed to cry. Felt allowed to cry. And did.

That and that Erik and his dad really were cut off from their ancestors. How existentially bleak. At least they still have each other.
posted by tilde at 5:07 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]

First viewing was great and packed, second was marred by assholes. Will see it a third time to make up for that second viewing with a bit of a gift card I have left.
posted by tilde at 5:09 AM on February 26

What were the assholes doing, tilde? Asking because of internet reports of attempted alt-right disruption
posted by glasseyes at 5:24 AM on February 26

The movie theater we were at is part of a bar and restaurant complex. Someone, drunk off their ass, was laughing uproariously every time some one got whacked, kicked, hit, etc in the big battle at then end (and as the weapons ships were shot down). I tried to tune them out but once it oeuvres my brain I couldn’t not hear it.
posted by tilde at 5:40 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]

Finally saw it. I went in with moderately high expectations and they were blown away. So good - much deeper than anything else from Marvel.

So much gorgeous production design. Killmonger is the best villain (really, an antihero) in the MCU, M'Baku could've been horrible but instead was a delight.

All the awesome supporting cast of Wakandan women were great, but I particularly loved that Shuri was a teenaged character played as a *teenager*. [Since the two branches of Marvel comics on the screen can theoretically be united, I want a road-trip buddy comedy with Shuri and Negasonic Teenage Warhead - like a teenage girl version of Midnight Run where they end up having to travel across chunks of the US.]
posted by rmd1023 at 6:01 AM on February 26 [9 favorites]

What's new is daring to construct and assert a positive vision of an alternative. And an alternative to US Colonialism to boot. that's daring, because the US has had 40 years of "there is no alternative" politics.

But it's an unfair comparison. Wakanda can afford to be positive and constructive toward the rest of the world because they are so rich and have overwhelming military superiority to ensure their safety. Whereas the United States...oh, wait.
posted by straight at 8:07 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]

And I tended to lose the thread of the plot completely while gazing at Lupita Nyong'o in extreme close up because she's such a fantastic beauty.

It feels weird to talk about that given what a deep, thought-provoking, heart-wrenching movie this was, and how strong, smart, wise and overall awesome the women were. But yeah, there was definitely a moment or two where I was just stunned by Lupita Nyong'o's beauty.
posted by Foosnark at 8:11 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]

Same here.

I've found some really interesting discussion about the film in The Root - so many articles, and comments are interesting too. One thing I've read makes a point about the care with which the actors are lit and shot in Black Panther. It said that conventionally, film lighting is weighted towards the more numerous white actors leaving actors of colour somewhat underexposed and flat looking. So that may be a factor in the film's fabulous photography? I don't know how technically accurate the point is with regard to contemporary filmmaking practice but incorrect exposure for POC is a legitimate issue in ordinary photography/film processing, I think there was an Ask or a FPP about it here at some point.
posted by glasseyes at 9:44 AM on February 26 [3 favorites]

I can't find the FPP, but I think this might be the article.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:35 AM on February 26

I'm carrying over here the interesting conversations I'm seeing about choices made by T'Challa in his final interaction with antagonist Zemo in Captain America: Civil War versus T'Challa's choices made in his final interaction with antagonist Killmonger in this movie. Copied from Wikiquotes for reference:

Civil War
[as Cap and Iron Man duke it out over Bucky, T'Challa confronts Zemo]
T'Challa: I almost killed the wrong man.
Helmut Zemo: [scoffs] Hardly an innocent one.
T'Challa: Is this all you wanted? To see them rip each other apart?
Zemo: My father lived outside the city, and I thought we would be safe there. My son was excited. He could see the Iron Man from the car window. I told my wife, "Don't worry. They're fighting in the city. We're miles from harm." When the dust cleared, and the screaming stopped... It took me two days until I found their bodies. My father still holding my wife and son in his arms. And the Avengers? They went home. I knew I couldn't kill them. More powerful men than me have tried. But if I could get them to kill each other? [beat] I'm sorry about your father. He seemed a good man. With a dutiful son.
T'Challa: Vengeance has consumed you. It's consuming them. I am done letting it consume me. Justice will come soon enough.
Zemo: Tell that to the dead. [points gun to head, T'Challa stops him]
T'Challa: The living are not done with you yet.

Black Panther
T'Challa: Maybe we can still heal you...
Killmonger: Why, so you can lock me up? Nah. Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, 'cause they knew death was better than bondage. [pulls out the spear impaling him and bleeds to death]

On a character level, on a practical metatextual "keep villains around for sequels" level, on a thematic level, on any storytelling level: Why do you think that T'Challa kept Zemo alive, and why do you think T'Challa let Killmonger die? Character development? Differences in circumstances of those characters? It's simple to understand why T'Challa chose not to kill Zemo--he is done letting vengeance consume him. But it's more complicated to consider why T'Challa did or didn't accept Zemo and Killmonger's choices to die.

Let the record show that, in my opinion, if Zemo had already been dying when T'Challa found him, T'Challa wouldn't have made a great effort to save him; and if Killmonger had tried to actively kill himself, T'Challa would've tried to stop him.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:55 AM on February 26 [3 favorites]

T’Challa for leaving Ross (basically an annoying stranger, dangerous political background, COLONIZER, not innocent in any sense of the world, trained soldier who knew exactly what he was risking when he chose to shield Nakia under gunfire).

There are good points here, but Ross is not a stranger to T'Challa- they worked together in Winter Soldier. I do think there's some weird comic-to-film stuff with Ross that doesn't quite ring true. In the comic he works for the State Department and becomes a close ally of T'Challa. That relationship is sort of a plot point in this film when 1) we haven't actually seen it develop as such 2) Ross now works for the fucking CIA- and comes with all the baggage that "CIA" brings. Frankly "colonizer" isn't even close to the fucked up shit our CIA has done, and it's a shame that the writers of Winter Soldier decided Everett Ross needed an "upgrade" to be cinematically relevant in that film. It's the one bit in Black Panther that now seems bizarre- ally with a CIA operative? WTF? It's not like Wakandans are unaware of the CIA's shitty history.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:05 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]

More people are adopting black cats.

I also like the one response: "To be fair, all cats probably think their name is Killmonger."
posted by RobotHero at 11:07 AM on February 26 [11 favorites]

T'Challa may have felt he owed Killmonger that choice, that even though he abhorred what Erik had done with his life he recognized that his family had fucked Erik over. In the case of Zemo, he and Wakanda had done nothing to them and thus owed him nothing.
posted by tavella at 11:17 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]

Talking about Ross now being a CIA agent, I was watching with another NGO friend and we were cracking up at how through him, the movie was nonchalant as possible that yes, of course America is the great disruptor and destabilizer of countries worldwide during his exposition for Erik. Like, the script didn't even make him quibble.

Re: the lighting - I remember this came up during Twelve Years... as well, and just like that link about the Insecure production, a lot of it is due to advancements in digital filmmaking, where it's possible to have spot dynamic ranges and colour grading without having to light up the whole set just to get black skin to show up well. In any case, I was thinking about this, because I don't follow The Walking Dead but I swear Michonne and Okoye are two different actors because the tonal value of both productions.

Anyway came in to share this: Ryan Coogler talking about black identity, specifically the connection and gap between Africans and African-Americans. I've been enjoying a lot of yt reactions from first-gen African-Americans or Africans with American connections as well.
posted by cendawanita at 11:24 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]

On a character level, on a practical metatextual "keep villains around for sequels" level, on a thematic level, on any storytelling level: Why do you think that T'Challa kept Zemo alive, and why do you think T'Challa let Killmonger die?

This makes perfect sense to me. Consider when they're discussing Klaue. W'Kabi wanted him to kill Klaue. But T'Challa insisted that he would bring him back alive. It says a lot that both characters are white. Death is just the last resort available for white guys who don't really want to reckon with the consequences of their actions.

For Erik, his life has been punishment. To some extent, Wakanda created him, and deserved consequences of leaving him behind. Having to imprison him wouldn't be justice, even if it would be necessary for the public's interest. Allowing Erik to choose his future is the least T'Challa can do for him.

It reminded me of Jamelle Bouie constantly going back to the point that true Prison Reform will require us to trust in the potential reformation of violent criminals. And that's something that we're really a long way from addressing. We're still caught up in the myths that non-violent drug offenders will be enough to turn this ship around. So allowing Erik to say that imprisonment isn't the same as justice for black Americans was such a profoundly political statement I was surprised we were allowed Erik's death. And deeply moved.
posted by politikitty at 11:52 AM on February 26 [5 favorites]

>>Ross is not a stranger to T'Challa- they worked together in Winter Soldier (pretty sure you meant Civil War)
They worked together, but they weren't exactly eager about it, and I don't think T'Challa would've described them as friendly; we learn in BP that Ross kept his mouth shut about the BP supersuit in exchange for taking custody of Zemo instead of handing him over for Wakandan justice, which T'Challa couldn't have been thrilled about. We also learn that BP supposedly takes place about a week (!!!) or so after the events of Civil War, which is a ridiculous timeline (Wakanda is done with mourning and funeral rites for King T'Chaka after a week?!) but regardless means that T'Challa and Ross haven't known each other long.

I have complicated feelings about movie Ross; I really loved his relationship with T'Challa / Wakanda in Christopher Priest's original BP comics, and I love Martin Freeman, so of course as a comic nerd I'm hyped to see more of my comic faves onscreen for more time. But at the same time every time movie Ross is onscreen I'm uncomfortably aware that the problematic white dude is talking/acting instead of giving focus/agency to the awesome POC characters. BUT putting Ross in a movie as a useless timesuck load with no plot relevance or purpose would be actively worse than just cutting the character. BUT cutting the character would make me kinda sad because I love Priest's Ross and Martin Freeman. And round and round the complicated feelings go!

If Ross is in the BP sequel(s), my hope is that he's been demoted to Wakandan babysitting duty at the State Department after he was kicked out of the CIA for, in order:
  • not immediately informing his superiors about T'Challa's Civil War superheroing and advanced Wakandan tech and not bringing any vibranium back
  • fucking up the South Korean deal with Klaue for vibranium (Ross: "T'Challa did it!" CIA: "DON'T CARE")
  • getting involved as an active combatant in a messy Wakandan Civil War and thus making it harder for the US to handwave that a US (dual?) citizen/ex-operative tried to stage a coup
  • STILL not bringing any vibranium back, what the fuck are we at the CIA paying you for, Everett?!

posted by nicebookrack at 11:58 AM on February 26 [9 favorites]

I've been thinking a lot about Killmonger's last words: “Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, 'cause they knew death was better than bondage.”

That line rang false when I saw the movie, because Erik's ancestors were Wakandan royalty. They didn't jump from ships; they were tooling around in 16th century vibranium trolleys or something. My first thought is that it was an unexpectedly clumsy bit of writing, but the rest of the movie is so well done that now I'm thinking that this shows how deeply Killmonger came to identify with the American experience of whoever it was that raised him after his T'Chaka killed his father and left him behind. He wants to use Wakanda's power, but his doesn't see himself as Wakandan anymore, not really. He's an Oakland guy with a lip tattoo that opens up some incredible possibilities. And that's part of why he doesn't mind completely upending Wakandan society on his mission of global black liberation. What has Wakanda ever done for him except orphan him and abandon him? Why respect its traditions? Wakanda isn't home. Oakland is.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:07 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]

Pedantic point: Erik's mother could easily have been descended from the American slave trade.
posted by politikitty at 12:11 PM on February 26 [19 favorites]

Erik is Half-Wakandan, his mother is a woman his father met in Oakland. So on his mother's side he has the history of American slavery.
posted by Julnyes at 12:11 PM on February 26 [13 favorites]

posted by politikitty at 12:11 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]

P.S. since movie Everett Ross took a level in badass from comic Ross and thus will not need to stick close to T'Challa to avoid being squashed like a bug, my fannish headcanon will be that movie Ross keeps lurking around Wakanda because he's nursing a massive crush on T'Challa. Accurate transcript of me watching Black Panther:
Ross, to T'Challa: "Look, I like you. A LOT."
Me, in theater: *slashgoggles SPITTAKE*
(for real, did I hear that right???)

Honestly I'm happy that T'Challa shall now join Steve Rogers as the little black (panther) dress of fandom shipping. It's their incorruptible pure pureness and beautiful face and squishy heart and big sad puppy eyes. No one can resist!!
posted by nicebookrack at 12:16 PM on February 26

Chadwick Boseman (T'Challa) and Danai Gurira (Okoye) Touch a Chameleon, a Guinea Pig, and Other Weird Stuff
The "Fear Box" is my favorite Weird Movie Promo Thing that actors do for sheer cuteness. But wait, there's more!
Lupita Nyong'o Plays With Puppies (While Answering Fan Questions)
posted by nicebookrack at 12:37 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]

STILL not bringing any vibranium back, what the fuck are we at the CIA paying you for, Everett?!

There's one car + one spear's worth of vibranium scrap littering the streets of Busan right now, maybe he could run back and scoop some up.
posted by Iridic at 12:57 PM on February 26 [5 favorites]

Wait, doesn't the CIA still have Klaw's arm, a vibranium weapon? Because that seems like a thing Ross would get credit for even if T'Challa was the one who ripped it off Klaw.

I actually really liked Ross because he was the white dude who had to keep realizing that this is not his place to speak or his battle to fight. He'll support them -- fighting against the person that is technically "one of his" -- but he's not the one who will call the shots (that's Shuri, a teenage girl and a princess, fighting for and alongside her people as she yells orders at him "Shoot them down, genius!"). Ross may not exactly be the definition of "woke" but I did appreciate that there was an ally who quickly learned to stay in his (expository) lane, listen, and do what he was told without insisting that he knew better.

Side note: as much love as all the costuming is getting (and all of it rightly deserved!), I'd also like to mention that I enjoyed the modern take on hanbok that all the casino dealers and cocktail waitresses were wearing in Busan. It shouldn't surprise me that the designers who were so thoughtful about outfits reflecting traditional African society would also be thoughtful about the Korean outfits, but it was still a nice touch.
posted by paisley sheep at 1:28 PM on February 26 [9 favorites]

I really liked Ross too for all the reasons paisley sheep mentioned. But he does make me miss movie Coulson, even though comic Ross technically came first. You had a perfectly good unflappable bureaucrat/superhero babysitter and you threw him away*, Marvel!

*to star in his own TV show that I love, but still. Coulson would lose his secret nerd mind over Wakanda’s awesome.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:17 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]

>>Ross is not a stranger to T'Challa- they worked together in Winter Soldier (pretty sure you meant Civil War) Whoops! Yes, thanks for clarifying my comment.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:22 PM on February 26

Lol I'm mostly positively ambivalent about Ross... before the fics centering him started increasing (never change, fandom)
posted by cendawanita at 5:56 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]

On Tumblr I’m seeing T’Cherik coming up like the new Thorki, which is honestly a relief to me as incest ships go. So far most of the Ross fic I’ve seen has been Ross/Stephen Strange, which as Johnlock crossover crack sure beats Bilbo/Smaug.

M’Baku/everyone needs more fic in the AO3 tag! Do your job, fandom!
posted by nicebookrack at 6:12 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]

i've only seen that strange/ross pairing only a couple of times on ao3 (i really don't mix on tumblr fic circles, mostly because altogether they become too long posts on my feed, and also i just don't keep up with my dash), but in the last week it's basically ross/t'challa on the rise. just this morning (my time) i'm scrolling thru the BP tag with this =.= face on.

the apparent discourse over t'cherik is amusing BECAUSE how much fandom went into thorki in a big way, and cousins... you can still marry cousins /ironic joke in view of my own cultural norms
posted by cendawanita at 6:17 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]

(i'm also biased because i just want more m'baku/everyone too)
posted by cendawanita at 6:25 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]

The Wakandan Royal Marriage Of Convenience™ romance novel fic is coming and I am readyyy for it. Especially with M'Baku. Every character should get their chance at a paper-thin plot reason to politically marry and then fall deeply in love with M'Baku.
posted by nicebookrack at 6:29 PM on February 26 [10 favorites]

“I pretty much guarantee that this coming Halloween and even Christmas, you know you’ll be seeing a lot of Black Panther merchandise,” [THR]
posted by cashman at 6:43 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]

Scrap the Avatar theme park and repurpose it to Wakanda, Disney! And I definitely need an ornament of Black Panther, avatar of the goddess Bast, for my Christian holiday tree.
posted by nicebookrack at 6:49 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]

If we're talking about Ross, can we talk about how the Sherlock team's American accent count is 0/2? I don't know whether I hate Cumberbatch's or Freeman's more. It feels like British actors on American TV are way better than the film actors trying their best flat Mid-Atlantic...
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:14 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]

and we get to enjoy both of them in Infinity War! :3

which reminds me of the variable African accents in this one, but of course the context is different. I've been chuckling along with the African commenters who's doing some light roasting but also recognise the momentousness. and let me be frank, for all I want to joke about western cultural hegemony, i appreciate this movie for this too, because too many Asians here are reflexively anti-black, especially anti-African.
posted by cendawanita at 7:26 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]

I would love to watch some slice-of-life stories from Wakanda. You know, about hospital workers, people doing maintenance work on the municipal trains, the people whose job it is (or has been before Wakanda opened up) to pretend to be sustenance farmers, academics at the university, game wardens, gardeners, graphic designers... just anyone outside the military/court setting the movie was focused on. Admittedly, those would probably be expensive to make with limited financial reward.
posted by Kattullus at 2:24 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]

I guess I just want more Wakanda. It's so refreshing to see a well-realized utopia on screen.
posted by Kattullus at 2:25 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]

I assume that, besides the border tribe military guys, the 'poor farmers' Wakandan folks are Wakandan college kids on some kind of work-study, historical re-enactor nerds, or LARPers.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:12 AM on February 27 [11 favorites]

I feel like Ross has the essential role of saying, essentially, Wakanda betrayed Erik, but we (America) made him a monster. And given that Erik is an African American, it's not out of place for a representative of America to bear some of the responsibility for stopping him.

You could have had Shuri reading Erik's biography from the CIA server she had easily hacked into, but only someone like Ross could really point to what Erik was doing and say, "This is the same thing America trained him to do in other countries."

(And really do we know that the Dark Pentagon had nothing to do with Erik's plan to stage a coup? How did he get all the way to Wakanda carrying a dead body? Not in that little biplane, surely.)
posted by straight at 7:11 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]

(Although clearly Erik's true plan was entirely his own. Also, I think I've got to assume those lip tattoos only glow in the presence of vibranium. Otherwise, there's no way a military doctor wouldn't have noticed Erik's tattoo and his superiors insisted that it be biopsied for study.)
posted by straight at 7:33 AM on February 27

Maybe I just missed it because I was too busy staring at Michael B. Jordan's perfect face, but was it ever explained why Erik didn't just kidnap/kill Klaue from the start? What was the purpose of going through with the heist and then the sale of the vibranium? It's not like Erik didn't know where Wakanda was already.
posted by yasaman at 8:19 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]

I was listening to Mark Bernardin's review and panel discussion and there was some discussion of the four hour original cut, and that it's possible that Erik's plans were altered to make things shorter. Speculation was that he may have not known where Wakanda was and was playing Klaue to find out the location, and when that got cut they just added in young Erik finding out about the map.

Bernardin's only real complaint about the movie was that T'Challa seemed to have few goals and got overshadowed by just about every other character he was in a scene with. I don't completely agree but I do see his point - he's a milder guy who does the right thing and that can sometimes get lost when the flashier characters are around him.
posted by PussKillian at 8:36 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]

no, i don't think it's explained exactly why he needed Klaue to go through the sale, in the final cut. Huh, did read the headline about the four-hour cut, but never gave it thought as to what's in it. Maybe Erik knew all along where Wakanda is, but he needed Klaue right up to the border, so he can show off, in the most dramatique manner, how he's better than T'Challa by having Klaue in hand? Then later he had to kill him, oh well, still convenient. I'm just fanwanking though, taking into account his dramatics.
posted by cendawanita at 8:44 AM on February 27

I’m happy this was a movie because yay smashing blockbuster records, but I kinda wish we’d gotten a TV miniseries instead and so gotten those 4 full hours. Apparently W’Kabi and Okoye’s relationship got a lot more space in the cut footage also . DVD extra footage release pleeeeease
posted by nicebookrack at 9:11 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]

Maybe Erik's original plan was to use Klaue to help him with his Wakanda plans, but when T'Challa showed up to capture Klaue, Erik realized that he could embarrass T'Challa and get what he wanted just by showing up in Wakanda with Klaue's body.
posted by straight at 10:02 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]

Am listening to that Bernadin's panel, and the way the movie got recapped, suddenly I'm imagining that Erik is Fresh Prince and T'Challa is Carlton.
posted by cendawanita at 10:28 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]

Oh my god Okoye is Geoffrey.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:39 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]

Well it would definitely give extra meaning to Zuri being Erik's "Uncle James."
posted by paisley sheep at 10:45 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]

Recently Marvel Press has been publishing a line of well-regarded young adult novels starring Marvel superheroes / antiheroes. I hope this means a series of YA novels about Wakanda Being Kickass is in the pipeline.
posted by nicebookrack at 11:38 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]

EEEE speak of the devil‼ Black Panther: The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith
posted by nicebookrack at 11:48 AM on February 27

11 African tribes, cultures featured in Black Panther - a slideshow from Pulse (Nigeria), including images of

- Mursi and Surma Lip Plates
- Zulu headdress
- Maasai costume
- Igbo Mask
- Basotho Blanket
- Ndebele Neck Rings
- The Otjize
- The Agbada
- The Dogon culture
- Tuareg scarfs
- The Turkana fashion
posted by filthy light thief at 12:20 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]

The one downside to MBJ’s iconic and mesmerizing performance as Erik Killmonger is that Serkis’s performance as Ulysses Klaue is (understandably) overshadowed. Because Serkis is SO GREAT as this gleefully weird psycho. Encouraging the museum guard to run away so Klaue can shoot him in the back! “I made it rain‼😃” Trying to make Ross listen to his mixtape. And then he’s killed off to be a plot coupon for Killmonger. RIP, glorious evil asshole. Someday Marvel will run out of enthusiastically villainous villains to kill and then they’ll be sorry.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:31 PM on February 27 [12 favorites]

Bernardin's only real complaint about the movie was that T'Challa seemed to have few goals and got overshadowed by just about every other character he was in a scene with. I don't completely agree but I do see his point - he's a milder guy who does the right thing and that can sometimes get lost when the flashier characters are around him.

I think that it was probably a combination of not quite being ready to take over the kingdom, being blindsided by the revelations about his unknown cousin and his father's killing his uncle, and also probably being distracted by harboring a whole bunch of refugee renegade superheroes, if Cap & Co. are still in Wakanda. Even if they aren't (well, with one notable exception), he's already stepped out of his father's policy of neutrality and isolation by defying the United States, even temporarily. That's a lot for a young man to have dropped on his plate all at once.

Also, while I also appreciate Ulysses Klaue being one of the MCU villains who obviously enjoys his job, and there's an interesting angle with him being an Afrikaner, I also appreciate the no-backsies approach WRT character deaths that they seem to have established as a rule, even where there's a comic-book-plausible explanation (e.g. the Red Skull and the Tesseract, although that may be more due to Hugo Weaving apparently not having liked the part).
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:38 AM on February 28

Bernardin's only real complaint about the movie was that T'Challa seemed to have few goals and got overshadowed by just about every other character he was in a scene with. I don't completely agree but I do see his point - he's a milder guy who does the right thing and that can sometimes get lost when the flashier characters are around him.

That's one of the best parts of T'Challa, in my opinion and it's going over hugely well in the black community. He knows he's surrounded by some very capable women and he gets out their way and lets them do what they do best. Sure, T'Challa seems a bit green, but he's confident in the people around him and listens to what they have to say and makes the final call.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:25 AM on February 28 [15 favorites]

I also appreciate the no-backsies approach WRT character deaths that they seem to have established as a rule

Which is a 180 from the way death is treated in the source material, where for years, the general rule of thumb was that no-one stays dead in comics except for Bucky Barnes, Jason Todd, and Uncle Ben. Of these, the first two were brought back after 37 years and 16 years, and several times they've danced around bringing Uncle Ben back with magic, cloning, and alternate universes. Interestingly enough, Bucky himself is also a 180 in the MCU, having been brought back from an onscreen death in the very next Captain America solo film.

One thing I've speculated on is that we may not have seen the last of Erik on the screen. While there may be some questions about the legitimacy of his short stint on the throne, he was permitted to partake of the Heart-Shaped Herb to gain the powers of the Black Panther, and died while still under its influence, watching the sun set over Wakandan soil. While he's not T'Challa's ancestor, those circumstances may be enough for him to take his place among the other former Black Panthers in the spirit realm. There's potential for an interesting dynamic there, a former opponent among T'Challa's entourage of spiritual advisers.
posted by radwolf76 at 7:49 AM on February 28 [9 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

There's one car + one spear's worth of vibranium scrap littering the streets of Busan right now, maybe he could run back and scoop some up.

I'm here for Vibranium Hunters, which would occupy the middle ground between crime scene cleanup, Pawn Stars, Antiques Roadshow, Meteorite Men and Detectorists.
posted by zamboni at 7:52 AM on February 28 [11 favorites]

This movie was more than everything I wanted. Seeing it with my children was one of the few bright spots in 2018 thus far.

One thing I've noticed since its release is that the discussion about it is much different than just about every other big sci-fi/fantasy movie of the past couple years, with WW being the exception w/r/t discussions about themes, impact, and future developments in their respective cinematic universes.

But, y'all, what struck me most about this movie, what has meant the most to me, is seeing so many strong, wonderful and beautiful faces that remind me of the girls and women I grew up with, women who watched the same shows and movies I watched as a kid (Star Trek, Buck Rogers (yes, I'm old), Knight Rider, A-Team, LotR) and very rarely got to see anyone who looked like them contributing anything meaningful to the story.

My sister taught me to read at a very young age, and always supported me in being a blerd, but BP is the first time I've gotten to see someone who looks like her (Danai Gurira sans-wack ass wig bears a faint resemblance to my sis) mattering in the kinds of narrative fiction I enjoy.

I was prepared to see this movie 20 times to do my part to make sure it had a decent box office in order to avoid having to hear the suits say "Well, we tried to make a movie for those people but it just didn't do well enough to justify future projects", but it turns out that won't be necessary. I'll still see it in the theater as many times possible so I can -- wait for it -- marvel some more at the representations of black women I've waited so long to see in sci-fi/fantasy tentpole films.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:40 AM on February 28 [14 favorites]

Just saw this last night and WOW. I loved it so much. I have many thoughts but I need to sort them out in my head before trying to write them.
posted by medusa at 10:50 AM on February 28

This movie is a gift, and this film criticism about politics and disapora is a gift: How Black Panther Asks Us to Examine Who We Are To One Another by Rahawa Haile:
The fact that my focus in this piece was less about the film as product and more about its politics is itself an accomplishment, a signifier of its exceptional quality. Every frame in Black Panther felt like a gift. A beautifully lit, well-moisturized, spectacularly choreographed gift. What I will remember about Black Panther’s opening weekend is the tragic relief of arguing the ideological calisthenics of a fictional African country instead of whether it is a shithole.
“Black Panther” Is Inspiring Black Brazilians to Occupy Elite, White Shopping Malls (includes video)
“How different. Exotic,” commented one women as she watched a group of almost 50 people — mostly young and black, many wearing bright fabrics with African designs — stroll through the Shopping Leblon mall. They came this Monday to participate in a rolezinho pretoi, roughly translated to “black stroll,” and watch the film “Black Panther” in Rio de Janeiro’s most exclusive shopping center, a place where black Brazilians are commonly employed, but are rarely seen as customers.
posted by nicebookrack at 3:49 PM on February 28 [6 favorites]

I think the tumbler essay by polytropic liar that cendawanita linked to above is one of the most profound things I've read about the movie. It points out that the movie's primary conflict is between Killmonger and Nakia That idea took a while to germinate and blossom in my head, but once it's pointed out, I see the movie differently, and I can't not see it that way.

When Nakia decides to resist Killmonger, we know she's right. But what's she fighting for? It's not loyalty to tradition and the Wakandan throne whoever sits on it. That's the choice Okoye makes, but Nakia doesn't. It's not T'Challa. She assumes he's dead like everyone else does. It's not Wakanda, at least not exactly. It's...

If I try to articulate it, I come up with words that sound stilted and stupid.

But it's because she decided to fight for that, that T'Challa was able to defeat Killmonger in the end, after being initially defeated – and after she revived him, with help from M'Baku, Ramonda, and some anonymous Wakandan fishermen. T'Challa's speech to the UN in the closing-credits epilogue is a victory for Nakia and what she was fighting for. (Even though she's not physically present in that scene, she'll probably watch it, or is watching somewhere.)
posted by nangar at 4:20 PM on February 28 [6 favorites]

Nakia is fighting for justice? Compassion? Erik Killmonger may bring revolution and change, but he won't bring compassion. Nakia is the emotional pivot point for Okoye, too. Okoye's ultimate anguished choice is To Be Lawful Or Good. Nakia always chooses Good.
posted by nicebookrack at 5:09 PM on February 28 [8 favorites]

in conclusion, forget black widow, where's my nakia movie??!

in more meh news: Sorry, Folks, Black Panther Isn't Actually Improving Black Cat Adoptions

(anyway OP tries to contain the virality. in any-anycase, my FFA-lurking friend tells me OP is a known teller of tall tales)
posted by cendawanita at 7:14 PM on February 28

Comics Nakia was a straight-up Woman Scorned villain, so she and movie M'Baku both are vast vast improvements. In related news, fanart gives me life: Special delivery for M'Baku + Snow panther + SO PURTY + Roxane Gay also gives me life
posted by nicebookrack at 8:44 PM on February 28 [5 favorites]

in conclusion, forget black widow, where's my nakia movie??!

Ugh, was I the only one who, during the previews, shouted, "What?!?!?! Another Ant Man movie and we still haven't had a Black Widow one?!?!?!"
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:35 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]

in conclusion, forget black widow, where's my nakia movie??!

I'd prefer to have both. It's not like Marvel can only afford to do one or that there's just not enough talent to go around.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:58 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]

meh, considering how scarjo was involved with ghost in the shell, i'm gonna need a time out from having to actually support her solo.

in any case! yes, it's jimmy fallon, but this is sweet, he staged a bit where fans thought they were recording their thanks to chadwick boseman, but he was there all along.
posted by cendawanita at 6:14 AM on March 1 [13 favorites]

"[The black women] weren't strong because they were angry, they weren't strong because they were hurt, they were strong because they were strong." 😭❤️ That video is lovely, cendawanita. And omg Chadwick Iloveyou. "You're gonna bootleg my movie?!"
posted by nicebookrack at 11:02 AM on March 1 [10 favorites]

Yeah! But it's also really underlined to me how unexpectedly tough this promo cycle must be emotionally. Like, it's one thing to have every other fan coming to you abt how the IP means more than #coolstuff, but now every single one AND literally their parents and children and second cousin?
posted by cendawanita at 5:22 PM on March 1

Lupita Nyong'o has talked in at least one interview about how unexpectedly deep and challenging the questions and conversations she's gotten around Black Panther have been.
posted by Lexica at 6:36 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]

IIRC "unexpectedly deep and challenging" conversations even compared to Twelve Years a Slave, which was the acclaimed serious historical drama film that made Nyong'o an Oscar winner and star, so you'd think that would be making the big social and academic waves, right? But it's Black Panther that's really hitting people where they live. Black Panther is great scifi certainly for the tech but also for that Afrofuturistic "What If" question of social science fiction. We're so used to seeing women & black people & doubly-damned black women suffering beautifully onscreen as slaves and criminals and sex workers. What If black men and black women were leaders and scientists and warriors, confident and compassionate and heroic? Because they already are, so why is it still so revolutionary to see them that way? How do we work toward this kind of future and freedom?
posted by nicebookrack at 9:33 PM on March 1 [10 favorites]

new single (??) out: The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar - Pray For Me

it says it's a lyric video, but the effort would've made it a proper mv to me.
posted by cendawanita at 8:54 AM on March 2

Oh, and who wants an hour plus interview British GQ just posted a couple days ago with Michael B Jordan on Black Panther, race, and power?

in any case, if anyone like me were vaguely checking in on MBJ in his Creed promo cycle, and then checked the fuck out (for reasons tht will be clear) and now tentatively back, Bim Adewunmi at Buzzfeed kinda did a short profile on what happened, basically.
posted by cendawanita at 8:59 AM on March 2 [2 favorites]

how... did it take me this long... but Jabari people can totally have fisherfolk and M'baku being vegetarian at the same time. He's a Brahmin y/n.
posted by cendawanita at 10:12 AM on March 2 [2 favorites]

I need more explanations for a vegetarian Jabari wearing fur than I do for the fish-catching. Do they get fur from critters that die in their sleep?
posted by nicebookrack at 3:45 PM on March 2 [2 favorites]

I think it's important to note that any close look at Wakanda, as presented, will produce a ton of plotholes or questions that will lead to plot holes. Thematically and emotionally it works, but my god, the plot holes if you give it a minute of shallow thought.

That said, it produces a ton of possible back and side stories. Like what if the Jabari really do use fur only from fallen critters? Maybe they consider it a source of pride and it makes their furs very personal? Perhaps they've borrowed or implemented some superior tanning/skinning/sewing methods that enable furs to passed down for generations, so they're a point of family pride, like the Valerian steel swords in GoT? Maybe it's part of their religion, the skinning of dead apes/gorillas etc, like a ceremony?

Where my fanfic at?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:46 PM on March 2 [4 favorites]

Check out this photo of M’Baku, look at the color in his clothes!. Read the interview too, quite good and touches on the Jabari wood tech a bit:
But it has its own mythology…
They believe it was given to them by Hanuman, the ape god. Meanwhile, the people of Wakanda will say, “No, it’s actually the Vibranium that’s seeped into the wood. That makes it stronger.” [Laughs] You have this whole divergence of ideas. They’re quite technologically sophisticated but it’s based around wood. Meanwhile, Wakanda proper is technologically advanced based around Vibranium. That’s kind of where they get separated, but it’s still the same house.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:01 PM on March 2 [5 favorites]

We're bringing up plot holes to get Marvel No-Prizes and write fanfic, not to complain!

After reading all the thought and research that Coogler and M'Baku/Winston Duke put into the Jabari, we definitely need Black Panther 2 to be T'Challa & M'Baku's Excellent Adventures in Jabari Land.

Also M'Baku was in the Infinity War trailer! Oh, how little we knew how quickly he would win our hearts.
posted by nicebookrack at 5:01 PM on March 2 [4 favorites]

Nah, T'Challa will clearly be too busy for adventures. Shuri and M'Baku's Excellent Adventures, now… think about the possibilities and how M'Baku's dignity would get tweaked by Shuri's irreverence. Also it could play with the family/tribe rivalry balanced with Wakandan solidarity.

Okay, who do we need to be petitioning/bribing to make this happen?
posted by Lexica at 8:00 PM on March 2 [1 favorite]

Ta-Nehisi Coates interviews Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong’o at The Apollo (Introduction begins at about 32 min, interview begins about 38 min.)

A lot of really interesting insights from both Nyong'o and Boseman.
posted by straight at 10:39 PM on March 2 [4 favorites]

If I understand things correctly then Shuri is a Disney Princess yeah?
posted by Iteki at 1:13 AM on March 3 [18 favorites]

Man, if he was still alive, Erik would totally build a gundam. #alternateinfinitywar
posted by cendawanita at 3:54 AM on March 3 [1 favorite]

Ta-Nehisi Coates interviews Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong’o at The Apollo

thanks straight, I've only just started. and I've been saying this elsewhere, but seriously, for all the roasting Africans are giving the cast over the accents (the only ones who've consistently passed muster is Winston Duke... and Andy Serkis), I give full credit to Chadwick Boseman for this choice way back in Civil War, and also then John Kani for swapping some of the lines to be in Xhosa. From then on, everything flowed.
posted by cendawanita at 5:45 AM on March 3 [4 favorites]

Extremely minor point but I enjoy that scene so much - he says "[if you don't shut up] I will feed you to my children! ....Just kidding, we're vegetarian"... do we think all the Jabari are vegetarian or just, like, M'Baku's own family? I can't decide which I prefer. And do we think the other Wakandans know this and are just keeping mum because they're playing along with him teasing Ross, or do we think they also don't know and he's teasing all of them? (Maybe they've addressed this, I haven't read all the interviews etc yet)
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:38 AM on March 3 [3 favorites]

There are so many masterful little touches in this movie, and that scene and his character are one of my favorites.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:40 AM on March 3

One thing I thought was great about the film is that it made spears cool as hell. In the Apollo conversation video (thanks for posting that, I'd been waiting for the video to pop up as soon as I heard about it on Twitter and saw the "video will be available shortly" tweet from the Atlantic thinking it would be hours or a day at most...gah), Chad kind of hints at this.

He says being called an "African Booty Scratcher" was a derogatory thing he went through as a kid. As did I. And nobody ever directly called me that to my face, it was just a thing that was said. Just like those Tom & Jerry or other cartoon videos where an explosion went off and suddenly the cartoon character was in blackface with larger than life lips, bugged out eyes, hair, and so on. It was just out there in the ether. And at times we took those messages and used them against one another.

Similarly, with spears, there's just a natural recoil we do when that weapon gets involved. Even though it's just a weapon. It was because of that racism that taught us that anything African was primitive, terrible and backward.

So when Danai started whipping that thing on the balcony in the club fight, I got so excited because I don't think I've ever seen a spear used on screen this way in an action film, by a main character, as their primary weapon. And on second viewing, I really began to love the double-click BOOM-BOOM of the spears by Okoye and the Dora Milaje in a "Let it be done" or "Lets get it on" way.

Conversely, while spears have been used to signify a base level weapon, guns have obviously been held up as the pinnacle of personal weaponry. And while that's obvious for larger American culture, it's magnified so much more in many parts of my culture, and notably in hip hop culture. Gat, heater, burner, toast, metal, iron, tool, ratchet, biscuit, chrome, and dozens of other words are slang words for guns that have appeared in songs. In addition to that, while there are a good number of songs with actual gunshot sounds in them, there are also songs where people make the sounds themselves. Probably one of the most interesting is by Royce 5'9. And while you'd think that would be his song called "Gun Music", it isn't. It's a different, actually good song called Gun Harmonizer where he uses the chorus as a place to scat through different imagined gun noises and sounds. "Every bullet's a note. I write with a firing pin, every time a trigger's pulled it's a quote." And beyond that, there are just extensive, extensive references, songs and attention paid to guns in rap and hip hop.

And so during the chase scene when she says " primitive", it turned my whole world upside down. The thing I've been hearing a good amount of my people rapping about since the 1980's as this great equalizer, since the 1980's and Rakim's comparing of the power of his voice on the timeless Follow The Leader - "Pull out my weapon and start to squeeze. A magnum as a microphone, murdering Emcees", to Royce's lyrics on a song that came out Wednesday - "My ratchet blows, it's trapping souls" - that's nothing. That's primitive. To a general. To a great warrior.

So yeah, spears are cool now. In addition to all the other positive ways this movie is affecting me and people who look like me, and connecting all of us back to where humanity originated.
posted by cashman at 11:00 AM on March 3 [23 favorites]

Extremely minor point but I enjoy that scene so much - he says "[if you don't shut up] I will feed you to my children! ....Just kidding, we're vegetarian"... do we think all the Jabari are vegetarian or just, like, M'Baku's own family?

Didn’t M’Baku say that T’Challa was rescued by a Jabari fisherman?
posted by 1970s Antihero at 2:54 PM on March 3

Pescatarian vegetarianism is a thing; vegetarian encompasses a spectrum of diets, and he didn't claim to be vegan.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:23 PM on March 3

LobsterMitten: "[if you don't shut up] I will feed you to my children! ....Just kidding, we're vegetarian"... do we think all the Jabari are vegetarian or just, like, M'Baku's own family? I can't decide which I prefer.

Notice that they slipped in there that the Jabari are followers of Lord Hanuman - for example, when his challenge is accepted, M'baku says, "Praise to Lord Hanuman". Lord Hanuman is an Indian "monkey god" in the Ramayana, famous for his courage, loyalty, and strength. His most famous story in the Ramayana is when he is sent to find a particular herb to cure Laxmana (Lord Rama's brother) after he has been poisoned - the herb only grows on the Gandhamadhan mountain, and Hanuman, unable to identify it, instead brings the whole mountain back with him.

So, just like the frontage of the Wakandan cave is a huge panther - I noticed on my second viewing that the Jabari hideout/cave frontage is in fact a representation of Lord Hanuman bearing aloft the mountain. It closely parallels a fairly common image.

And among other little touches, followers of Lord Hanuman are traditionally vegetarian. So my guess is that all the Jabari are vegetarian? (And per Slap*Happy above - I guess they could eat fish - pescatarian vegetarianism is indeed a thing, although I'm not sure if strict Hanuman worshippers do that or not.)

The question of how a traditional Indian deity made his way to central Africa is ... interesting. Hanuman is worshipped through Southeast Asia where ancient Hindu empires extended, and I guess Hindu missionaries might have been a thing too? Best not to look too hard, although of course in the process of writing this comment I found that people on the internet already had.

(FWIW, I didn't think the usage of Hanuman was disrespectful at all. And ha - I see that Hanuman's Wikipedia entry has already been updated - there's a section at the end about the Jabari.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 5:26 PM on March 3 [3 favorites]

I thought the possible (because we're not a monolith) black viewing experience for this movie was great, and in total unlike anything else that comes to mind. But I don't view movies in the theater on a regular basis. That said, if my family and friends experiences are any measure, a lot of people went and saw this movie who don't typically go to movies on a regular basis.

The previews started out with a trailer for Pacific Rim II, with John Boyega starring and looking great. Then Black Panther itself started, and there are several references in this film that after a couple of viewings, I'm fairly sure weren't complete accidents. Especially after watching interviews with Coogler, and watching him diagram the club fight scene.

When T'Chaka meets with Jobu in the apartment in Oakland, it had the feel of King Jaffe Joffer showing up at Eddie Murphy's Prince Akeem's place and asking how he was doing. I actually felt that on the first viewing, and that's such a treasured movie in the black community it was no surprise to almost immediately see a picture of two men fully dressed up as those two, actually attending a showing of Black Panther. The notable common features are pretty obvious anyway, but its a neat facet for Coogler to add.

When T'Challa gets revived and then approaches M'Baku for help, M'Baku is not feeling him. M'Baku laughs and and then says "But no", and then turns his head and purses his lips. I cracked up laughing at that part. After I saw Black Panther the second time, it hit me that it's a redoing or reference of Vivica Fox's appearance in "Don't Be A Menace..." AshTre is headed to his dad's house and about to get out of the car, and asks what his mom's going to do, and Vivica's character says "Sorry son...You know there aint no positive black females in these movies", and then does that same side head twist with pursed lips.

And I think Coogler throws that in there because that movie was a complex view of the "hood movies" black people have enjoyed, suffered through, and had a complex relationship with. Don't Be A Menace was criticizing those films for that and Coogler referenced it in a movie that excels with its portrayal of women, and black women with agency. As that guest in the Fallon video said, the women were strong not because they were angry, or hurt, they were strong because they were strong. So it is a reminder of just how crappy so many of those films were, and films in general in portrayals of black women, then Black Panther absolutely knocks it out of the park with its portrayals of black, or rather African women.
posted by cashman at 8:00 PM on March 3 [17 favorites]

And do we think the other Wakandans know this and are just keeping mum because they're playing along with him teasing Ross, or do we think they also don't know and he's teasing all of them?

Pretty sure the others are keeping mum, considering their position in that scene. "Oh he's claiming the sky is purple? That's fine, as long as he gives us help."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:03 AM on March 4 [1 favorite]

i rewatched Civil War just now, and I think fic needs to be deployed to fanwank why it seems CW!Wakanda already has Wakandan outreach workers in Lagos, under T'Chaka, hence the Wakandans being involved in the plot in the first place post-bombing. Still, I can totally buy that their cover was as a regional/global south-south initiative (mmm imagine the supposed grants they had to pretend to apply for), on some kind of study visit. Ah, anything involving CW always makes my head hurt when it comes to hashing out the supposed international politics (like, why only 117 countries tht signed the Accords?? why Vienna?? WHY ANYTHING...?)

ANYWAY, it's Chadwick Boseman's turn visiting Trevor Noah at TDS. He also went a bit more into the accent choice, and also, and African-Af-Am relations.

Re: M'Baku - I'm more than happy to go with their supposed vegetarianism, but I'm also open to him just being an outright troll (per my earlier comment)
posted by cendawanita at 7:47 AM on March 4 [1 favorite]

I'm only half way through the comments here but just saw it today.

I don't watch broadcast TV so I miss out on trailers a lot.

I had seen the trailer for this when I went to see TLJ and thought oh shit this looks AMAZING, it's like Thor. (in that it seemed like a complicated deity family with superpowers thing but with all black people and how cool is that because I'm kinda over the marvel movies and haven't even seen Ragnorak or Civil War or even Wonder Woman bc even as a white person I'm just tired of the same damn story with white men and women.)

This movie was so goddamn fucking amazing. The end fight scene was a bit much but I always zone out on those in these movies.

I'm so glad I watched the TNC interview with Lupita and Boseman before seeing this.

It made me understand how powerful a lot of the scenes are and that would have gone over my head as a white person, no matter how much I care.

I realized towards the end that I go to movies and TV shows to escape. I like watching period dramas because they're like time travel. I like weird Scandinavian murder shows but can't stand Law & Order.

Marvel has felt kinda boring to me a for a while. It was the same thing.

This movie left with the same feeling as TLJ... That I have seen something powerful, that I was somewhere else for the entire movie.

I don't think that I'm used at all to see black men and women portrayed how they were in this film and I'm all for it.

I'm prob making some kind of muddle of what I'm trying to say but this movie lives up to the gosh darn hype. It's not perfect but it was so so good.

Also, Lupita is some kind of amazing goddess where did she get her skin can her dermatologist call me. I totally would also freeze if faced with her and not even in a sexual way. She is arrestingly beautiful.
posted by sio42 at 10:26 AM on March 4 [2 favorites]

And catching up now, I'm surprised but guess I shouldn't be that anyone would kiss the boko haram kidnapping reference in the beginning. Geez.

I love all the conversations and everything I'm seeing this movie spur. Lupita says that pop culture is powerful and uniting. It really is.
posted by sio42 at 11:35 AM on March 4

T'Challa, Erik Killmonger, and Luke Cage: The African Diaspora

In the film Get Out, one of the title songs, “Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga” which is Swahili for “Listen to the Ancestors”, What makes this song so jarring is that the singers are constantly trying to warn the listener (and Chris, the main character of Get Out) to run away to safety. They are trying to warn Chris in a language that he doesn’t understand because he is so far removed from that aspect of his culture. Feeling disconnected from your cultural roots is another part of diaspora. Chris can’t understand the danger he’s in because he can’t “Listen to the Ancestors”.

However, T’challa, Erik and Luke subvert this in their respective journeys. They “listen to the ancestors,” albeit in their own ways. They find wisdom in the past, and each man gains a different solution depending on who they invoke. Each man calls up, and takes wisdom from a different “Ancestors” that represents his own respective place within the diaspora.

T’challa connects with all the great leaders of the Panther clan, the kings of old, the ones who never had to question their identities or change themselves in order to assimilate. Erik claims those who jumped from slave ships and chose death over compromising their own identities. And Luke connects with the many African American trailblazers who created a new identity in spite of their country’s racial animosity.

posted by cendawanita at 6:34 PM on March 4 [3 favorites]

Trend-wise, the movie did some great things. Around the time I joined, I was part of a look through films set in the future. One of the themes that arose was women who were given great qualifications, but ultimately never used them, needed to be saved, functioned as any other damsel in distress, or did the whole trip over your own feet and fall thing. It was a break-the-glass type thing. Once you notice it, you see it happening in all types of media. Some female character is described as having high rank, having accomplished a bunch of things, but in the end, the guy does everything, and saves the woman in the process (and even when a woman saved a guy, 5 seconds letter the man was written to save her 'back'), and the woman is just a liability on screen.

The women in this film were given great qualifications. Nakia is first introduced as someone who is on a mission, not needing to be saved by a superhero. We learn she's a spy. We learn she can speak multiple languages. We learn she has contacts, has physical skills, has the wherewithal, as has been noted, to get the Queen Mother and the family out. To formulate a plan to overthrow the government. She drives the car barefoot in the chase scene. And at the end of the film? She dons armor and fights the villain. She gets cut on the hip but says she's okay. She doesn't get given all these abilities, only to trip and fall or something stupid, or be completely useless in the end.

Okoye is the general. The King's right hand. She's called the greatest warrior. And she exhibits it all through the film. She's not called a great warrior and then, say, bested by a teenager or something silly. No, she and a couple of Dora Milaje almost beat Killmonger to close out the film, but lose out ultimately to Shuri's tech. And to solidify her status as the greatest warrior, she saves the Jabari tribe's M'Baku, who almost beat T'Challa, by stepping in front of a freaking battle-armored rhinoceros charging at full speed. Phenomenal, and again, she didn't stub her toe and need to be saved or something ridiculous.

Shuri is well known for her tech prowess. She exhibits it in the beginning, exhibits in the middle, and exhibits it in the end. In fact, even as T'Challa is taking out Killmonger, Shuri is actually the one who saves everyone and prevents a ton of Wakandan tech from escaping to the outside world. It's her tech, her setup of the tech, her directing Ross, her disabling the train remotely. They didn't build her up as some tech guru, only to have her not be able to figure out how to turn on a light. And on top of that, her skills increased, as she threw the device on the main ship so it could be controlled, and she went out into the battle and fought, and also didn't have some ridiculous trip and fall and need to be saved.

I'm going to echo Killmonger a bit here. I've been waiting for this for what feels like my entire life. It's finally here, and that's why I watched the movie again earlier today. I don't know if I can get enough.
posted by cashman at 6:44 PM on March 4 [12 favorites]

I really liked this film. Went and saw it with friends at the kind of theatre which caters only to adults. Both showings were sold out. I’m sure the theatre did well off this film.
I loved seeing so many African actors. Also the inclusion of so many African tribal appearances and even customs and language.
I think it’s great that this movie sold out in my town. There aren’t that many Black folk here.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:22 PM on March 4

One stray observation -- I got the impression that Erik ordered the garden burned not only because he wanted to disrupt the rites of succession and remove the source of the panther drug, but also because he never wants to see his father and turn into that frightened child again.

Such a great sad scene in the apartment, when you realize they are both cut off from their ancestors.
posted by benzenedream at 11:42 PM on March 4 [12 favorites]

I've been thinking about the difference between Everett K. Ross in the movie and Poe Dameron in The Last Jedi, which I'm going to assume everyone has seen, so spoilers will abound (also there will be a Blade Runner 2049 spoiler).

In The Last Jedi lots and lots of people have to die so that Poe Dameron realizes that he is, in fact, not the hero of this particular story. The film lets him, and the viewer, think that he's the hero who will save everything, so that in the end it can be undercut and have him realize that he's been a fool. A similar thing is going on in Blade Runner 2049... in fact, it's pretty much the whole point of the movie. Both movies are basically set up as lessons for white American cisguys in the dangers of thinking you're more important than everyone else.

In Black Panther, Everett K. Ross is just a narrative cog who allows Shuri to both fight Killmonger hand-to-hand and also make sure that the weapon shipments don't reach the outside world. Now, the filmmakers could have solved that in many other ways but they chose that one and made various interesting character choices for Everett. But Everett is not there as an audience stand-in; he's just there to make the plot move forward. And no one has to die in the film just so that the white American cisguy learns a lesson.

The Last Jedi and Blade Runner 2049 deconstruct the trope of the white American cisguy hero, but Black Panther doesn't even nod in its direction. I do think that deconstruction is a valuable and important artistic practice, but equally valuable and important, if maybe even more so, is setting new parameters where there's no need to deconstruct. Black Panther does that and then some.
posted by Kattullus at 4:11 AM on March 5 [13 favorites]

cendawanita: I went back and watched that part of Civil War and I'm going to say that those were some Wakandan spies who hadn't gotten their cover stories set.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:25 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]

I just went to see this on Saturday (after much urging by 2 friends of mine who had already gone to go see it) and I was just blown away but how LUSH everything seemed. Everyone had fully fleshed out backstories and the COSTUMES! Oh, I loved everything.
posted by sperose at 6:40 AM on March 5 [4 favorites]

Last March during filming for BP, Lupita Nyong'o threw an AMAZING Wakandans to Zamunda (Coming to America) birthday party for herself and castmates Gurira and Kaluuya. Crossover firmly accepted as canon by me.
posted by nicebookrack at 1:17 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]

Way upthread: was it ever explained why Erik didn't just kidnap/kill Klaue from the start? What was the purpose of going through with the heist and then the sale of the vibranium? It's not like Erik didn't know where Wakanda was already

A friend and I have been talking about this, and we came out at Erik wanting updated intel on the state of Wakanda after the death of T'Chaka -- he's been biding his time, keeping himself busy by getting rich (that $5,000 shearling coat! not caring that klaue can't pay him right away!) and having a good time (rip linda, murdered by misogynoir), and really, how much do you think about the fairy tales your father told you as a child?

And then T'Chaka is publicly assassinated. And then, and despite Ross's best efforts, there are rumors floating around the intel community that Erik is still plugged into about a dude in a black cat suit bringing Zemo to justice. And Erik decides to put a long-held plan back to the front-burner as a way of drawing out the Black Panther and seeing if all those childhood stories that he remembers, but has never been able to validate, are true.

And then the Black Panther shows up, and Erik looks at T'Challa, and T'Challa looks at Erik, and Erik sees T'Challa flinch, and it's on. It's time to cash Klaue in for one free Wakandan admission pass.

I assume that Erik knew about W'Kabi's parents because N'Jobu traded his knowledge about Wakanda's defenses to Klau partially for the arms we see in the Oakland apartment, and that when he was dropping the extra vibranium off with N'Jobu, Klaue mentioned some of the people he killed. You'll note that part of Erik's dream of his father involves him going into the same compartment where the guns were kept and finding what looked like a diary written partially in Wakandan, partially in English -- the Erik in that scene flicks back and forth between kid Erik and grown up Erik, and I read it as layering of vision and memory. The bit, in particular, of N'Jobu initially pretending to be angry about Erik finding the diary struck me as the kind of detail a kid vividly experiences, but that an adult omits.

So yeah, I think N'Jobu put that detail into his diary, and Erik read it and tucked it away for when the time was right.

As a side note: as part of the Asian diaspora, holy shit, I have a lot of feelings about Erik's complicated relationship with Wakanda.
posted by joyceanmachine at 1:18 PM on March 5 [12 favorites]

A couple of connections I noticed by the 3rd viewing, that I'm sure I'm not the first to notice.

First, when we start the 1992 Oakland sequence, N'Jobu is planning with Uncle James/Zuri, some kind of something. I believe he's shown with a little toy car in his hand, and then when he hears T'Chaka's ship, he tells James to hide the guns.

When we go to see T'Challa in the modern day sequence, T'Challa is planning some kind of something, and he's shown with a car in his hand, but it's obviously that futuristic real-time display that shows the position of Nakia, that is almost like an animated 3-d printed model. So it just highlights the disparities between what black people have in the states, vs Wakandan tech.

The second thing I didn't notice until show 3 was that during Killmonger's Warrior Falls vs T'Challa, Erik actually uses a move where he throws up his knife, backhand catches it, and makes a back-stabbing motion at T'Challa.

At the end of the film in the final fight scene (which I saw illuminated as a fight in a literal Underground Railroad (!)), that same move is what T'Challa uses to beat Killmonger. Gets the weapon knocked up into the air, catches it backhanded, and stabs Killmonger in the chest. Hell of a move indeed.
posted by cashman at 5:15 PM on March 5 [18 favorites]

I caught that too, and I think it's one of the reasons why Killmonger went quietly to watch the sunset rather than scrape and scrap to the end - he knew T'Challa had him figured out and found a counter to what Eric was up to, all the way, everything. That, more than the prospect of incarceration, is the humiliation that drove him to end it despite T'Challa's quiet presence of kindness and patience and forgiveness. (He and Cap are totally on the same page, wow, Super Patriots of a feather!) Or maybe I'm giving Coogler too much credit, but boy howdy, this movie, I don't think I can ever give enough credit.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:04 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]

Also, I really want this scene in Infinity War in light of the Jabari-wood backstory:







posted by Slap*Happy at 8:28 PM on March 5 [6 favorites]

I've been plagued since yesterday by this thought: what would be wakanda's currency exchange rate in the international market now? I still don't think they'd come totally clean on how much vibranium they have on hand, and i can't believe this movie is making me read up on international currency markets.
posted by cendawanita at 8:53 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]

Knitters, get your needles ready*, the designer for Nakia's shawl (during the escape to Jabariland) just released the pattern for free

*atm it's written for machine knitting, but comments show it's not too hard to translate to handknitting
posted by cendawanita at 5:35 AM on March 6 [7 favorites]

the prospect of incarceration

What kills be about Killmonger's death is that he's so American that he can't imagine a legal system that doesn't involve incarceration. He's so American that he can't understand someone not wanting revenge for the things he's done. Killmonger came to Wakanda because he heard all this great stuff about Wakanda, and when he gets there, he can easily verify all the things they do verrrry differently. And yet, Killmonger can't get his mind around the fact that Wakandan prison may be so different from American prisons. It relates to the repeated idea in the film of "If you're not on top dishing out shit, then you're on the bottom- eating shit", and Killmonger believes that right up until the end.

When T'Challa said "We can heal you", as an audience member, my brain didn't just think, "Oh, they could prevent him from dying right now", it also thought "Could vibranium heal his anger management issues? His feelings of abandonment? His soul?" Although I'm not really sure Killmonger would even know how what to do with himself if vibranium could do all that for him. I think Killmonger's death at the end was at least a little bit brought on by the fact that he finally made it "home" and yet he still feels soooo out of place.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:17 AM on March 6 [18 favorites]

Wow, nice catches, cashman!

An example of the ways in which BP is igniting conversations far, far beyond what you normally see springing forth in the wake of a superhero movie: Black Panther Raises Difficult Questions in Museum Community.

Also an article speculating about how BP will perform in China provided me with new information about how racial issues involving Africans and descendants of African slaves play out there: Will Black Panther Conquer China?
posted by lord_wolf at 9:13 AM on March 6 [6 favorites]

I am FINALLY sitting in a theater seat with 15mins until it starts. Been looking forward to this for so long and avoiding spoilers has been so hard.. Can't wait to be on the other side. For now I'll just sit here and bounce up and down with little kid levels of excitement
posted by Jalliah at 3:31 PM on March 6 [6 favorites]

Yea, that CNY special was yet another example of widespread antiblackness in Asia, and the conversation feels like it's stuck to be honest. It is reminding me of an African BP review that noted if anything the movie hasn't grappled with China's presence in the continent, which I realise it's a tall order simply because I don't think Western pop culture, what more Black American discourse, has even factored that in.

Still, at least it's not like that one post I was reading and went sideways into hoping China audience would find resonance because of their 'obligation' as the motherland to the diaspora and I'm here like, noooo I don't need any more nationalism from them, thanks.

Talking abt how this movie is sparking convo in unexpected places though, here's a semi-awkward one with Stephen Colbert asking David Oyelowo how he feels as a Nigerian, over why he/we have to celebrate a fictional African country.
posted by cendawanita at 3:32 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]

Killmonger came to Wakanda because he heard all this great stuff about Wakanda

And because Wakanda killed his father and destroyed his life. Great Wakanda was Erik/N'Jadaka's homeland/birthright/family, and Wakanda/Black Panther/T'Chaka killed his dad and threw N'Jobu & Erik away like trash and erased them from memory and lied about it. Erik/N'Jadaka is the forsaken child whose abominable misery made the blithely ignorant isolationist utopia of past!Wakanda-Omelas possible.

If there's any justice in Disney Black Panther Heaven, T'Chaka is watching "Ohana means family" on a loop for the rest of eternity.

Erik can't see T'Challa's personal kindness/patience/goodness because until it's too late (if at all), T'Challa doesn't approach Erik as an individual/a person/a cousin. Would anything have been different if T'Challa had told Erik, "I loved my father, but what he did to you was wrong," even if that did nothing to absolve Erik of his crimes?

In confrontation with Erik, T'Challa is always foremost a representative of the royal bloodlines/the Black Panther/Wakanda, and in the end I can't blame Erik for not trusting Wakanda's goodness/mercy/justice: the same justice that abandoned an orphaned child to preserve the greater peace. When Erik and N'Jobu's spirit meet, cut off from their ancestors, and Erik declares "Maybe they're the ones that are lost," one layer of the tragedy is that YES, Wakanda was lost.

I can't wait to read the literary criticism comparing Erik Killmonger and postcolonial Caliban. "You taught me language, and my profit on't / Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you / For learning me your language!"
posted by nicebookrack at 4:25 PM on March 6 [11 favorites]

Imagine: T'Challa talking Erik down by connecting over family like [Agents of SHIELD S2 reference] Coulson did Cal [/AoS] and now I'm sad
posted by nicebookrack at 4:48 PM on March 6

Vox pop in Seoul: What Koreans Think of Black Panther, with specific questions on their attitudes towards black people.
posted by cendawanita at 7:50 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]

Another thanks to this movie for having villainous black/african men in it without them being uncharacteristicly brutal, ruthless heartless and violent, or disgustingly bent on sexual assault, for the material.

This has angered me for years. There are many examples, but these few bothered me enough that they stay with me. In Pirates of the Caribbean, they have a pretty muscular black pirate from Barbosa's crew slap Elizabeth pretty darn hard as he tells her not to speak unless spoken to. It was terrible, and just completely jarring at that point in the film, and unnecessary. In Cliffhanger, everything was pretty much standard action film stuff and then we got to where Leon's character was being a bad guy like all the other bad guys in the film, then all of a sudden he disgustingly started talking about raping Stallone's love interest. Unnecessary, out of character for the material, and this sort of thing routinely happens with black male characters. In the tv series Firefly, my favorite episode is the 'last' one, Objects in Space. The villain starts out as such an intriguing villain. He's just enamored with his own mind and thoughts and says and does all kinds of neatly weird things, like getting lost in the middle of trying to scare information out of someone, to ponder the nature of a room, and get excited when he remembers the word "Imbue". But of course, they have him viciously slap one of the crew members who is written as the soft and sensual one. Then later they have him threaten to rape the ship's baby faced mechanic, who is completely beloved. Just terrible, cringeworthy, and out of character for the material. Additionally, these films only have a few or a single black man with spoken lines in the media, so it adds to the effect. It doesn't mean black or dark skinned male characters can't do bad things as villains, it just means I've noticed how these characters get written to have inhuman, over the top, disgusting actions that are just jarring and unneeded. And it has carryover in real life treatment of black men, like all media has real world carryover.

So thank you for making Killmonger do bad things (killing his girlfriend, killing Klaw, facilitating the murders of museum staff, choking the herb woman, killing one of the Dora Milaje, etc) without having him do things in a brutally over the top nightmarish fashion in the manners I referenced.

Similarly, M'Baku fought T'Challa and was adversarial toward him and given his general characterization, that part could have easily been written to do something barbaric and cruel that is beyond the pale and lacks any sort of meaning, rationale or justification that fits with the media, but thank you, Coogler, for not doing that.
posted by cashman at 6:00 PM on March 7 [23 favorites]

Damn, cashman, are you me? I've had those exact same thoughts about dude in PotC, Leon's character in Cliffhanger, and Jubal Early.

And, yep, I was sitting there tensely waiting for Erik to threaten to rape Shuri, Nakia, or Okoye. Such a huge, huge, huge relief when he did not and so was able to continue to be somebody you could root against but at the same time feel.

I mean, wow, this movie, while far from perfect, got so many things exactly right I wanna cry sometimes when I think about it.
posted by lord_wolf at 7:22 PM on March 7 [9 favorites]

Finally got my butt to the theater yesterday. Unsurprisingly, it was great. a few scattered thoughts I didn't see brought up before:

-Maybe he wasn't right, but to paraphrase my favorite podcast, Killmonger made some valid points.

-The movie changes gears really fast when Killmonger arrives in Wakanda -- taking his plan from 0 to 60 in the space of a single monologue -- and I'm of two minds about it. On the one hand, it makes total sense for the character as presented; he's had 20 years of rage for this goal to crystalize, and given that background it makes sense that once he's in position to finally move it forward he wouldn't be interested in wasting time. On the other, from a narrative standpoint I think it does a disservice to T'Challa to only give him the space of that one monologue to react before it's duel-to-the-death time. It would've been nice for them to get a few more scenes together before it reached that point.

-I'm curious to see how the sequel deals with Killmonger burning the Heart-Shaped Herbs, because if we take it at face value then (a) T'Challa is the final Black Panther; and (b) the entire ritual of challenge for the throne has to end, because once he drinks the depowering potion there's no way to get the Black Panther back. It'd be easy to just say in the next movie "one of the attendants saved a cutting, no problem," but then why have that scene in the first place? They didn't need the extra justification to steal an Herb -- it was going to be their bargaining chip with M'Baku.

-Marvel Studios' mandate for tech-based heroes to fight bad guys wearing a Player 2 version of their suit in the origin movie has officially gotten out of hand.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:02 AM on March 11 [4 favorites]

Disappointed but I'm utterly unsurprised: “A torture for the eyes”: Chinese moviegoers think Black Panther is just too black
But the movie—which comes as a timely portrayal and celebration of blackness half a century after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination—is hardly resonating with Chinese audiences. On Douban, China’s IMDb-esque platform, the film holds a 6.8 rating out of 10 (link in Chinese)—almost half of science-fiction and action movies rated by Douban users have a better score.

(...) Some moviegoers disliked Black Panther because they felt Marvel was trying too hard to be politically correct (link in Chinese). While many reviewers on Douban stopped short of leaving overtly racist comments about the film, many discussed their discomfort of being surrounded by so much blackness.

I mean, they can go fuck right off. Frustrating because it's not like these attitudes can be ignored, especially with the depth of China's presence and investment in the country right now AND this fact is being reflected in their pop culture. (Protip: don't bother watching wolf warriors 2)
posted by cendawanita at 9:08 AM on March 12 [5 favorites]

Thanks Nelson for catching my bad! I truly do mean the continent Africa, not the country China up there: 'investment in the country'

That'll teach me to post something right after waking up in my second language
posted by cendawanita at 9:19 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]

Heh, no worries. Interesting article and very disappointing the picture it presents. I'd like to read more though, I'm a little suspicious whether the Quartz author cherry-picked the worst comments to make their argument. I haven't found anything else online in English about Chinese reactions other than In China, ‘Black Panther’ is a movie about America. That article says the movie didn't translate well and the producers didn't alter the movie for a Chinese audience.

A whole lot of the film relies on the audience understanding the African-American experience, I wonder how that works in other markets in general? Hip-hop culture is global but that's only part of what underpins Black Panther.
posted by Nelson at 9:29 AM on March 12

I have to admit I snickered at that article's namecheck of wolf warrior 2, but to go back to your point, even here in Malaysia, that awareness counts for a lot of the reception. There's an interesting double prejudice that exists, informed by Western media and our own media, that the anti-black racism is nuanced by a person's nationality (Western countries vs African countries) which is also an expression of our colourism, if that makes sense? I've mentioned upthread, the racism is alive and well, in most of Southeast/East/South Asia, this despite the more visible presence of Africans due to trade relations in the last 30 years. So I'm currently sensitised to see if this movie IN particular can lead to any changes, in part because, unlike China, this region (SEA) is very much plugged in to Western pop culture, and truth to be told, the whole notion of black politics and social justice is still very much seen as an American one, with very little 'switching on' in terms of the African experience*. But mind you, even that really is more apparent if the average Asian has also been more involved in learning more of the history, because in terms of pop cultural tropes white supremacist readings are still very much the norm. (so I've seen and experienced Anglophone Malaysians making fried chicken jokes which especially makes no goddamn sense BECAUSE FRIED CHICKEN IS ALSO OUR THING?? Or 'going to Africa' for photoshoots, being the latest I heard from a Filipino celeb couple. Or just the blackface you see regularly reported from East Asia markets) So IF BP can at least normalise some notions about Africans that's not immediately negative, I can count it as a win. As it is currently, what resonated more immediately is the third world jokes.

(*that is also anti-African bias tbh, because this region has been a great sinkhole for pop cultural imports but I can say with certainty we don't get exposed to any stuff from the major African pop culture stuff in any significant way. Yet, I've seen my share of utterly random German and Italian children's tv fare, dubbed of course)

<--- i've switched to laptop hopefully i can type better!
posted by cendawanita at 10:05 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]

this is from Malaysian twitter, but still: I’m at KLIA and this little Chinese kid just crossed his hands, bumped his chest, and did a #WakandaForever thing at a random black guy standing in line. The best part? The guy returned the salute.

This just made my week.

(relatedly, anyone else been getting/doing the salutes? One of my colleagues have been greeting people daily with it lol. I did ask him about Danai Gurira's accent, and he said she did sound more Zimbabwean at times, but it was okay, since they're close to South Africa anyway)
posted by cendawanita at 2:12 PM on March 13 [2 favorites]

Finally saw it this weekend and for the most part I really enjoyed it. I loved how different it was to the usual run of Marvel movies, I loved the world building, I loved the complex characters.

But can I just talk about that Busan scene for a second? I'm really glad that the Koreans in the video linked above talked about the Korean spoken in the Busan scene. I made a cringey awkward face during the entire conversation, it was so bad! They were trying to do some weird Chinese tonality thing to the accent when Korean is not tonal. I thought maybe it's some Busan accent that I wasn't familiar with, but the video confirms that native Koreans did not buy it either.

They give credit for the actors trying and although the accents were funny they acknowledged they understood what they were saying. They are kinder than me. I think it was pretty lazy to write all that dialog (and all correct grammatically and conversationally) and fuck up the accent so bad. They were in Busan! I don't understand why nobody checked on this?

Full credit to the actors for giving it an admirable shot, but their accent coach really led them astray. I almost think they made it harder for them with the weird sing song accent and awkward word breaks.
posted by like_neon at 10:01 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]

I also agree with the comments that Lupita's accent, although not perfect, was actually better than the ajumma's proving once again her amazingness.
posted by like_neon at 10:13 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]

Re: the Korean accents -- I want an audio clip of Lupita saying 고마워요 because something about her intonation is adorable and I can't replicate it.

I was also baffled for a bit that they translated "Nairobi" (what she says) as "Kenya" (what was in the subtitles) but then I later assumed that it was for us dumb Americans because in the next scene T'Challa references Nakia as a "Kenyan heiress" and presumably they didn't want the geographically-challenged to get confused by not knowing that Nairobi is the capital of Kenya.

(Note: I am one of those geographically-challenged people but also know enough Korean to be bewildered by non-exact translations.)
posted by paisley sheep at 10:31 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]

yes, it's jimmy fallon, but this is sweet, he staged a bit where fans thought they were recording their thanks to chadwick boseman, but he was there all along

Mimi siliolia. Wewe unalia.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:33 AM on March 16

I really wish the club link hadn’t been posted to so many old threads, my Recent Activity is all messed up now. Couldn’t it have been done as one Fanfare Talk thread?
posted by oh yeah! at 1:42 PM on March 16

> I really wish the club link hadn’t been posted to so many old threads, my Recent Activity is all messed up now. Couldn’t it have been done as one Fanfare Talk thread?

There's a Fanfare Talk?
posted by komara at 2:21 PM on March 16

[eek, yeah, no: spamming (20+!) old threads with the club link is a no-go. I've deleted those. As oh yeah! points out, for anyone who has participated in most of those discussions, this is a big problem with Recent Activity.]
posted by taz at 3:41 AM on March 17

Lately I've been really enjoying media examining other parts of the filmmaking, and right now Hannah Beachler ('beak-ler'), the production designer, is blowing my mind. Here are 3 videos (7:02, 4:44 & 3:35) I watched yesterday where she talks about her work. Thanks to latkes for the vice article earlier in this post.
posted by cashman at 7:49 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]

PSA: Marvel's Black Panther Animated Series is Streaming for Free on YouTube

This series is good, especially for a motion comic! Check it out if you need a little more Panther to tide you over until the home media release...
posted by jason_steakums at 8:13 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]

I can't believe that Black Panther cartoon got Stan Lee to be the voice of the super-racist American general. That kind of blew my mind.
posted by straight at 5:09 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]

Stan Lee was a New York Jew when being Jewish in New York was more exciting than it should be. Now he is in that position again. He and Jack created Black Panther to make a point. Intersectional Solidarity - then, now and always.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:32 PM on March 19 [5 favorites]

I love this news piece because it reminds me of the links between the two continents, but anyyyyyyyyway, if you're in Singapore, there's an Indian-Muslim tailor who's replicated T'Challa's black suit for sale. (in time for Eid! ayyy)
posted by cendawanita at 11:19 PM on March 21 [6 favorites]

Saw it for the second time this week, at Seattle's amazing Cinerama theater. I actually loved it even more the second time.

For one thing, I was able to appreciate Michael B Jordan's performance so much more. There are so many layers to it - he's able to be this menacing, destructive villain at the same time as he constantly shows us glimpses of that hurt, betrayed little boy - and the extremely intelligent West Point/MIT graduate. The first time I saw the movie, I found his character kind of jarring, just because he plays the role so differently from how the Wakandans play theirs. But seeing it a second time, knowing the full story, it really worked.

And also, this film is such a visual feast. It's just stunning to look at. It was really fun, seeing it the second time, to be able to really study little details, like the amazing beaded jewelry Shuri and her mother wear during the first ritual combat. (I may have spent a good half hour googling "Wakandan beaded necklaces" this morning in vain).

Also, the score is so good. I love the Kendrick soundtrack, but if you need some good background music for Getting Shit Done, listen to this score.
posted by lunasol at 6:20 PM on March 23 [6 favorites]

What do people think the odds are for there someday being a theatrical release of the 4-hour cut of the movie? I figure there's bound to be some kind of 'director's cut - extended edition' home video release at some point, the studio must know they can make another fortune off the movie that way. But they've got to know that the audience that has kept Black Panther #1 at the box office for so many weeks would come back again for a new edition - would they release a longer version for the extra revenue or would they not bother since it couldn't be run as many times a day as the existing 134 minute cut?
posted by oh yeah! at 7:11 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]

What do people think the odds are for there someday being a theatrical release of the 4-hour cut of the movie?

I have no actual idea, but I just can't see it unless it's at like 3 theaters, one each in NYC, LA and Chicago or something.
posted by cashman at 8:16 PM on March 23

I think there's gonna be enough people obsessed with this movie for a long time that, if they release it, I could see it being the kind of thing that arthouse theaters show as a special event on a Friday night or something like that.
posted by lunasol at 9:49 PM on March 23 [3 favorites]

If anyone grabs a link to the collection of SNL promos Chadwick does, can you drop them in here?
posted by cashman at 6:51 AM on April 2

March Madness, with Chadwick, and special guest. Fire!
posted by cashman at 4:54 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]

SNL Promo.
posted by cashman at 3:24 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]

Of course Holtzman is angling for some vibranium. She has recruited the Key Master to aid her in the endeavor! And some guy in green plaid flannel.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:15 PM on April 4

Chadwick's on SNL tonight! New promos.
posted by cashman at 7:03 AM on April 7

This movie made me dream of a better world, and that is a rare and precious feeling that only a few fantasies can manage to provide.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:48 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]

The SNL episode with Chadwick Boseman is available on YouTube, at least right now for me in the US. I only watched the opening monologue and T'Challa on Black Jeopardy, both of which were not very good. (I'm not an SNL fan though.)
posted by Nelson at 10:57 AM on April 8

both of which were not very good.

The opening was pretty try-y for Chad. He does better laid back.

Black Jeopardy was hilarious, but you have to know why a lot of the funny parts were funny. If you want to go through it moment by moment I can talk about why a lot of people found various parts hilarious. Like for instance, if you've never gone to a black barbershop to have your haircut, the amazing truth and the hilarity of the barber portion wouldn't occur to 'you'.
posted by cashman at 4:30 PM on April 8 [2 favorites]

There were moments in Black Jeopardy that had me curled up laughing.

Kenan's facial expressions and "I should be...." in response to one of T'Challa's earnest but ignorant of the reality of race in America answers is the perfect mixture of poignancy, biting commentary, and absurdity I like in my comedy.

In a way, some parts of that Black Jeopardy were just as funny-but-deadly serious as Negro Town from Key and Peele, particularly the "I thought I was going to Negro Town" exchange that ends that piece.

Folks who are still reading this thread, check out this interesting article about how face recognition AI responded to publicity photos of the BP cast in character: Black Panther Scorecard: Wakandans Under the Coded Gaze of AI.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:38 PM on April 10 [7 favorites]

The article has a fantastic point, but in terms of age, the AI's were thrown for a loop by Angela Basset, for whom Satan has honored "Eternally Beautiful" part of the bargain, and that Ryan Coogler just really, really likes goatees in this film. Winston Duke's beard is really just a "Goatee and a Half", and therefore the AI can peg them as '90s dudes who never let go.

(I'm making fun of the styling choices, but black boys being confused for men, and treated like dangerously immature men instead of ordinary kids, is a serious problem in education and law enforcement. This really brings that home.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:09 PM on April 10 [3 favorites]

I know I'm way behind, but I saw this for the first time last night and I LOVED it. The visuals! The acting! The character development! Love love love. WAKANDA FOREVER.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:26 AM on April 11 [5 favorites]

I also took my sweet time to see it, and yeah, wow. I've liked a good few of the Marvel movies as not particularly a super-hero fan, but this one is the first that I can't stop thinking about and still keep noticing new little corners of what it was doing twenty four hours later. One moment I really loved was when Ross wakes up and tells Shuri that it would take magic for a bullet wound to the spine to heal as quickly as his did, and she tells him that it was all technology. It's a nice little rebuke to the trope of black people in film always only ever having power by virtue of some exocitizing supernatural ability, and that only ever being used to further the white protagonist's development. Here, it's technology that saves him, and then he goes on to play a supporting role to back up Shuri instead of taking over the show.

I wanted Killmonger to live, though. I think there's still so much potential in his character to develop and to act as a foil to T'Challa. Michael B. Jordan said he was a lot like Magneto in that way, and like with Magneto it would be fascinating to watch them develop as sometimes-allies and sometimes-enemies and to see their relationship develop in the course of that dance. It would be kind of new territory for this dynamic too, since Magneto and Charles are fundamentally bound by their initial friendship before their ideological split, but Killmonger and T'Challa are bound by the one's resentment and the other's guilt, so that's kind of a trickier web of sentiments to navigate (the whole transcendence of friendship thing with Charles/Magneto is often beautifully done but I think it's been thoroughly milked at this point -- Charles can always get on his high horse and appeal to Hope and effectively "win" the conversation thematically, but what happens when the more villainous part of the duo has the moral trump card?). Killmonger developing into sort of an extended study of the boundary between righteous anger and destructive anger would have been amazing, although I wouldn't be surprised if the studios were a lot less amenable to that thematic avenue.
posted by invitapriore at 4:13 PM on April 22 [6 favorites]

Hah yeah, it's a lot easier to keep Magneto around because Mutants (in the X-Men sense) don't really exist, so their grievances can be considered as a theoretical problem.
posted by RobotHero at 5:59 PM on April 22 [5 favorites]

I think Killmonger worked better as a concept on paper than on screen, largely because Michael B. Jordan is a fine actor but in this particular role was outclassed by the surrounding cast. Killmonger also doesn’t resemble any of the other characters in terms of general presentation - I realize that’s part of the point, but that didn’t make him go down any more smoothly. Consequently, it was more interesting to see all of the other characters process Killmonger than it was to actually see Killmonger himself do anything. T’Challa yelling at his father about leaving the child behind, for instance, had more of a kick.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:48 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]

Killmonger had to go on about killing children because it was the only way to guarantee a majority of viewers would be in favour of stopping him.
posted by RobotHero at 8:07 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]

But I think it’s exactly that contrast between Killmonger’s presence and that of the Wakandan old guard that could have yielded a lot of narrative fruit. How do they develop in response to his challenges to their orthodoxy, and vice versa? I think Ryan Coogler has the writing chops to have synthesized those opposite poles in some later entry.
posted by invitapriore at 8:33 PM on April 22

Killmonger also doesn’t resemble any of the other characters in terms of general presentation

This is because they are Wakandan, and he's from Oakland and has been training as a US super-spy for his entire adult life. This is the whole point, he's nothing like them, while being one of them, and he uses their aloof insularity against them.

Klaw and Ross are just as weird, on opposite sides of the spectrum, because they aren't Wakandan, either.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:02 PM on April 22 [3 favorites]

This is because they are Wakandan, and he's from Oakland and has been training as a US super-spy for his entire adult life. This is the whole point, he's nothing like them, while being one of them, and he uses their aloof insularity against them.

Yes - that is why I noted that "that was part of the point". I still think him less interesting to watch than the other characters and their reactions to him.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:20 PM on April 22

Interesting! I found Killmonger perhaps the film's most charismatic character! I don't know if it was the swagger, the tragic back story, all the shirtless scenes or just Michael B Jordan's smile but he popped off the screen for me, even more than delightful Shuri or ass kicking Okoye or luminous Nakia...
posted by latkes at 7:23 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]

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