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Review: ‘Black Panther’

Shaheem Reid

 // Feb 16, 2018

Thursday night (Feb. 15) is like Christmas Eve for comic book fans, Black people and Black people that are comic fans. Black Panther has officially arrived.

Somewhere north of $180 million is the expected opening weekend haul and if those staggering projections hold true, the Ryan Coogler and Marvel Films epic will have the third biggest weekend of any film in the comic genre, behind both behemoth Avengers films, and will be the sixth highest grossing film in history, period.

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According to Fandango, Black Panther has sold the fourth-most tickets in the company's two-decadelong history, guaranteeing that the colossal big-screen film will hit blockbuster status before it even goes to theaters. We haven't seen Black people coming out to support their own with these records since we help put Obama in the White House. Black schools, community groups and churches have been buying tickets by the thousands. Black families will be going to see this together on multiple occasions. It's all-Black starring cast features some of our favorites, such as Angela Bassett and Forrest Whitaker, as well as enlists a young Black director (Coogler). Even the soundtrack is already out on the number one hip-hop label TDE and is heading for the top of the charts.

As Black people, there is no way we could embarrass ourselves and let this one flop. The money has been and will continue to be spent at the box office for this one though. We didn't drop the ball and the Black Panther delivers.

The film is already a cultural phenomenon with Marvel's genius marketing team outing the stars of the movie on a massive worldwide tour that struck not just in America (they even had an ode to Wakanda fashion during New York's fashion week) but also in countries across the globe, including South Africa.

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Black Panther takes place primarily in the motherland, in the fantasy world of Wakanda. Through their futuristic technology—which is powered by alien metal vibranium— Wakanda is hidden away from the rest of the world. They're living in a self-sufficient seeming oasis where the Black dream is manifested. Black people are living good, striving amongst each other in peace and wealth. Wakanda's entire Kingdom is ruled by King T'Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, who takes the throne after his father T'Chaka is killed during the events of Captain America: Civil War where he died during a terrorist bombing.

Black Panther receives his powers after drinking from a heart-shaped herb only found in Wakanda. His agility, senses, strength, speed and endurance are all heightened to superhuman levels. His suit is bulletproof, absorbs energy and has claws that make Wolverine's look like hang nails. The Black Panther himself has better gadgets than Batman, a cooler suit than Iron Man and lives in a bigger, badder paradise than Wonder Woman. Plus, he beat Wonder Woman to the punch by being the first to show off a flying invisible jet!

Although fans have seen him masterfully don the superhero Black Panther mantle and fight fearlessly against and with other heroes such as Captain America, Iron Man The Hulk and Spider-Man, the Prince feels that he may not be ready to take rulership. Regardless of his trepidation, T'Challa is forced to quickly accept his new role as an old foe—Ulysses Klaue—shows up halfway around the world to sell a stolen Wakandan weapon. Klaue is teaming up with Michael B. Jordan's character of Erik Killmonger who has a secret that will bring Wakanda to its knees. We all know behind every strong Black man is a strong Black woman and Black Panther celebrates the Black woman and the Black family like no other. He has an all-female army, called the Dora Milaje, holding him down, as led by their general Okoye.

If you love Danai Gurira as Machone in the Walking Dead, you'll be even more enamored with her in Black Panther. She's fearless, highly skilled, and loyal. She will let nothing stop her from living by her code. The film's funniest moments come when T'Challa interacts with his teen genius sister Shuri. She's the lead scientist and engineer in the country, her intellect in technology may be higher than Tony Stark's and she develops two new suits for Black Panther that can assemble on T'Challa's body instantly. Just like any little sister, she has no problem cracking jokes on her big bro. Then there's the Kong's ex, Nakia, played by Lupita Nyong'o. She's a bad ass spy who travels the earth infiltrating the most nefarious parts of the criminal underworld.

Now here's where we dig deep. Much like Wakanda is disguised in plain sight to the rest of the world as a third world country, Black Panther is disguised as a "superhero movie." Yes, this is the best film that Marvel has ever put out, Michael B Jordan is the best villain Marvel has ever put on the big screen, and yes, Coogler has easily silenced naysayers who doubted he could man a $200 million dollar tent-pole event. The special effects area heart-stopping, as is the action, but the messages and other images are the real treasure-trove takeaways here. We see Afrofuturism at its highest level.

For Black people to see themselves as kings and queens, and living in harmony on such a monumental scale; this has never been done like this before. It is so imperative and as a #NewBlackRenaissance and Black Excellence emerges in our culture. The topic has been broached as to where Black people with wealth and power and information and resources have a responsibility to share with Blacks who are less fortunate. Then there's the question of how far do we go with the revolution? Do you lose some of your humanity and fight as dirty or even dirtier than those who try to oppress you? Black Panther is definitely a film you have to and will gladly see more than once to digest all the eye candy and glorious gems.

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