And welcome to the 5th edition of our Geek Talk Series!
As a Marvel fan, I have been waiting for the Black Panther Movie in baited breath. Like for Infinity War coming out this spring, I anticipated this movie like crazy since the moment it was officially in production.
Black Panther is without a doubt one of the most important cinematic event for the black culture around the entire world. Since the trailer release, the anticipation for this movie transformed into something beautiful, a rallying cry, a tidal wave of enthusiasm and hope.
So many elements and scenes in this movie gave me life. So much symbolism, not-so-hidden messages and blunt interpretation of what could have – should have been in the cards for Africa….
Without further ado, I will attempt to describe in several parts why this movie is one of Marvel’s greatest achievement.
Δ – WAKANDA – Δ
Wakanda is the true representation of the African dream: The most technologically advanced nation on Earth, where natural resources never seems to tarry and where peace is not just an unattainable dream but a norm maintained by a benevolent leader.
The country itself beautifully mixed the euphoria and joy that is the African culture. Add to that the modern edge characterizing powerful cities in the world and you have Wakanda.
Education, science, agriculture, military, weapons…. Wakanda dominates those sectors with a futurist advance on all other countries including America despite Tony Stark been the very best inventor in the technological and biological industries.
Despite the fact that they could rule the world, the Wakandans stay hidden.
Wakanda is a kingdom governed by a King whose reign can be challenged by the heirs and heiresses of all tribes and clans striving under him. Politically, an ideal system remains true: despite being a monarchy, the country still required a bit of meritocracy for the king to remain in power.
Natural resources are vast and diverse: oil, coil, diamonds, uranium… but the true gold of the nation is the Vibranium.
A meteor of pure Vibranium fell millennia ago on that small part of Africa, soaking the earth and metamorphosing the people on it. Since then, the Vibranium was the cause of all the gifts and blessings Wakanda had enjoyed. The very base of all technology and science of the nation comes from Vibranium.
The religious system is inspired by the Egyptians old Gods, the Enneads. If you are familiar with Ra, Sekmet, Nut, Isis, Osiris and their spiritual animals, you will find a strong kinship in the multiple religious clans of Wakanda: the Hyena Clan, the White Gorilla Cult, the Crocodile Cult, Lion Cult, and of course the Panther Cult witch is the state religion of Wakanda.
Which brings us to the mantel of the Black Panther carried by the king of Wakanda himself.
Δ – KING T’CHALLA – Δ
T’Challa is the son of former King T’Chaka, long-time sovereign of Wakanda.
Abruptly fatherless and unprepared to rule, T’Challa took the title of King and went on to avenge his father by going after the presumed suspect of the bombing: Sergeant Bucky Barnes.
In the beginning of Black Panther, we see a grieving son returning to his country, accepting that he now has to become the great king his people and his family expecting him to be, but also dreading it at the same time. T’Challa doesn’t think himself ready and when he takes the Heart-Shaped Herb Enhancement to meet his father’s spirit in the ancestor land, he does not try to hid his own fears and insecurities.
T’Challa put his father on a pedestal. But eventually, all idols fall.
This movie is not only a monumental pro-black, pro-African, pro-feminist and a great superheroes story. It’s also a meaningful lesson about family, especially the relationship between a son and his father.
We see T’Challa rebuilding himself after uncovering the dark truth about his father’s actions. We see him standing true to his own principles, his own ideals.
The end scene is one of my favorite. It marks the beginning of T’Challa sharing the “Black Panther” with the rest of world and giving a strong beacon of hope and a role model for all black children around the world, children that needed so badly to have a hero who look like them.
Δ – ERIC KILLMONGER – Δ
Erik Killmonger was a striking and heartbreaking surprise. I had very high expectations for the antagonist character of Black Panther. I’m glad to say that the rendition and performance of Michael B. Jordan did not disappoint.
Killmonger strongly reminded me of another Marvel villain, a namesake nonetheless: Erik Magnus Lehnsherr AKA Magneto.
They both provoked the same unwanted feelings in me: an ambivalence concerning their evilness due to the fact that they come from a very harsh and tragic background, a reluctance to completely despise them because I can empathize and sympathize with them, knowing the root of their sufferings…
And ultimately, a very firm conviction that they took their quest for freedom too far and crossed the line between heroism and villainy.
Erik killed hundred of people long before he finally faced T’Challa in the ritual combat. He made himself a trained assassin, cold and ruthless, but never unfeeling. He killed with pleasure knowing that the death he was spreading was paving his way towards the throne of Wakanda.
Erik is T’Challa’s cousin, son of a brother who betrayed his nation and his king but did it to save all other black people around the world.
Wakanda has always chosen Wakanda first. Its citizens and its leaders were never kin to change that, no matter what was happening in the outside world.
Being black did not mean being Wakandans and so for centuries, the African Eldorado remained a secret and ignore the horrific historical events that now shaped black people’s history around the world:
Of course, Erik had every right to be angry and bitter. He also had every right to find a way to free his people. However, no amount of pain or hurt should automatically validate the right to pain and hurt someone else. Make no mistake: This is what Erik wanted to do; he was activity trying to destroy the rest of the entire world.
If he had succeeded… what would that have made of him? Of the black community?
When did the Global liberation of black people became the start of a Black colonialism?
Erik was so angry. He had a fractured soul and heart full of hatred. While Wakanda and King T’Chaka definitely helped created the man he became, Killmonger had a choice: After his father’s murder he could have taken another path, seek out to help his people another way. Everyone always has a choice whether they believe it or not.
Cocky and domineering, Erik does manage to ascend the throne however briefly. He is of course, hell bent on overthrowing any political structure Wakanda have and at this point, it’s clear that his goals are selfish and personal.
However I do believe that despite himself, Erik actually saved Wakanda and helped T’Challa become a better king.
King T’Chaka’s mistakes were grievous: He killed his brother and abandoned his nephew ignoring the fact that Erik rightfully deserved to live in Wakanda. He left behind an orphan, alone in a world decided to hate him for his skin color, alone but aware that somewhere in Africa, his own blood was enjoying a life of warm, comfort and luxury.
T’Chaka also kept the isolationism of Wakanda going. He wanted nothing to do with the rest of the world but for T’Challa and Erik’s generation, that is not how the world works anymore. The world is a small place. And everyone is watching.
Erik’s death was not in vain and his crimes triggered a powerful realization: Wakanda can no longer watch the world destroying itself from the shadows. As humans, the wakandans have a duty to try and help everybody who needs it, whether they are form the nation or not.
The idea of “one planet equals one tribe” takes an important significance, especially in the wake of Thanos’s arrival.
Δ – THE WOMEN OF WAKANDA- Δ
– THE DORA MILAJE-
The Dora Milaje literally means the “adored ones” and adored they are! I love Marvel for this.
It’s hard enough to be a woman in a world dominated by men, but to be a black woman? You are pretty much considered at the bottom of the society’s scale.
In Wakanda, it’s the complete other way around.
While it is a fictional nation who never experimented colonialism, therefore also never experimented racism, the notion of sexism could have easily been in the equation. However the African culture is not like the occidental ones: while both can be improved, the Black Panther movie gracefully and powerfully acknowledge that since women are the ones who birth, feed and nurture the future generation while keeping their households strong, it’s only logical that they would be the military as well as the royal bodyguards of the king.
They are what I consider to be a love letter to all African women, strong, bad-ass, loyal and fierce.
General Okoye played by Danai Gurira from the Walking Dead is to die for! I admire her unwavering loyalty to the throne and her love for the royal family.
While she’s definitely one of my favorite, the youngest female character was the one who stole my heart…
– PRINCESS SHURI-
First of all, let me state this now: SHURI IS MY FAVORITE DISNEY PRINCESS. Yes, she is. Marvel is Disney franchise now, therefore Shuri is a Disney princess.
Actually she’s a goddamn little queen. Jasmine who? Elsa who?
Shuri is such a wonderful example of what I want little girls to aspire to.
Working on a genius level, Shuri created a lot of Wakanda’s most advanced technology, especially in the biotechnology and weaponry area. She also famously upgraded the marvelous Black Panther’s suit and made it as lethal and resistant as possible. She the reason T’Challa can be a superhero. She is “the guy in the chair”.
Shuri is edgy, clever, sarcastic, unruly and beautiful. She represents a youth that do not not believe in limitation and always try to improve things, even if it’s already working. She’s the ultimate representation of progress and I adore her for it.
Her relationship with her brother is as playful as it is sweet. They both lost a father and they are both close to their mother but watching the movie, it’s clear that despite her tendencies to ignore the traditions and the serious ceremonials events, Shuri deeply respects her family, especially her brother. She believes in him and she believes in what Black Panther represents.
She a fresh breath of air and one of the best part of the movie.
Lupita, Lupita, Lupita!
I’m such a huge fan of her and I was so trilled to learn that she was going to play Nakia’s part in the movie. Because I’ve read the comics, I was also a little concern about the character’s rendition but once again, Marvel did not disappoint.
Nakia is the epitome of a strong, independent woman. She is a true Queen and she knows it. It’s clear that T’challa knows it too even if at the beginning, he thought she could do with a little less stubbornness in her.
Nakia is one of Wakanda’s international spies. Daughters of one of the most prominent tribes of the nation, she found her calling outside of the country, in the worldwide jungle, by helping as many people as she can and fighting injustices.
Humanitarian, intelligent, and a fierce warrior, Nakia is open to the rest of world, despite the cruelty she witnessed in it.
She wish for Wakanda to be open as well and try to encourage T’Challa to do so.
She’s T’Challa’s ex, the one that got away, the one he never got over with. The one he wants by his side.
I loved the story between them, it was never cheesy or boring, it was everything I wanted to see for this character.
Lupita Nyong’o is a black pearl. I could not imagine this movie without her.
I hope this article encouraged you to go and see Black Panther. This is not a movie for Black people only, the same way that Wonder Woman was not a movie reserved for women only.
This is movie tells a story of empathy, love and strength. It fights against hate and fear. It’s a love letter to Africa, a tribute to women and a joyful message of hope for children and all people.
It’s also the last Marvel movie before Avengers: Infinity War.
Grab your seats my fellow geeks, the Eternal War is coming!
See y’all in the next talk!
- Featured Image Header: Source and credits: gamespot.com