‘Black Panther elevates superhero cinema to thrilling new heights while telling one of the MCU’s most absorbing stories — and introducing some of its most fully realized characters.’
The critical consensus on the movie is well founded, and can never be fully appreciated without watching the Movie…Its certainly a Masterpiece blending the cliches of the Super Hero Blockbuster genre with a dash of fresh humor in the form of inner ‘Race’ jokes, and Savannah Cinematography so mind-blowing it can only be compared to George Lucas’ ‘Star Wars’.
I have never seen the African Savannah depicted on such a grand and stupendous scale…Something to behold.
With that being said, I find myself writing a Review discussing an issue that I did not anticipate the Film to prompt me to write about, but nevertheless is one of the most important conversations that needs to happen in the World today…The dialogue between Africans, and all other Africans in the diaspora.
On one level, Black Panther is about our Hero’s journey as King of the Kingdom of Wakanda. He is challenged for the Throne in ‘Ritual Battle’, and in each case he manages to triumph. However, his fight against the second Challenger, and would be ‘Usurper’ his African American cousin Erik AKA ‘Killmonger’ is filled with significance for both the King and the Challenger.
Its revealed that ‘Killmonger’s Father was from Wakanda, and when his Father was killed in Los Angeles for betraying the Kingdom of Wakanda to Arms dealers and Mining Prospectors, Erik his son was left abandoned in LA.
Erik had to make his way through life without any Parental love and care. However, prior to his death, his Father had told him all about Wakanda, and promised to take him there one day.
Ironically, this proved to be a source of both strength and anger for Erik. Its a source of strength because it provides him with an alternative Self-Concept beyond that of the ‘Inner City Negro’ imposed on him by the American system….This in turn fuels a deep sense of betrayal in that he feels deprived of his true destiny by growing up a ‘Negro’ in America when he could have had the life a King in Africa (Wakanda).
In essence, Killmonger is reminiscent of the alienated and angry Black-American male portrayed in Richard Wright’s ‘Native Son’:
“Bigger, as I saw and felt him, was a snarl of many realities; he had
in him many levels of life….–What made Bigger’s consciousness
most complex was the fact that he was hovering unwanted between two
worlds–between powerful America and his own stunted place in
We could substitute ‘Bigger’ with ‘Erik’ and it would accurately describe the angst felt by Erik growing up in the United Stated under the designation ‘Black-American’ or ‘Negro’. Erik’s journey to Wakanda therefore represents his own attempt to claim the African (‘Wakandan’) identity he has been denied. Erik arrives as the angry ‘Prodigal Son’ but dies redeemed as a ‘Native Son’ of Wakanda.
It is as if the demons that haunted Erik’s life as a ‘Negro’ could only be exorcised by the African Soil of Wakanda. In turn, the isolationist Wakanda King decides that Wakanda will now reach out to other African communities worldwide and use its resources for the betterment of the people because the King now sees the consequences of not helping when the Kingdom can.
I believe the transformation of these characters speaks to the minds and Souls of Africans everywhere, and once upon a time a man called Marcus Garvey called upon us in these terms:
“Fellow citizens of Africa, I greet you in the name of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League of the World. You may ask, “what organization is that?” It is for me to inform you that the Universal Negro Improvement Association is an organization that seeks to unite, into one solid body, the four hundred million Negroes in the world.
To link up the fifty million Negroes in the United States of America, with the twenty million Negroes of the West Indies, the forty million Negroes of South and Central America, with the two hundred and eighty million Negroes of Africa, for the purpose of bettering our industrial, commercial, educational, social, and political conditions. As you are aware, the world in which we live today is divided into separate race groups and distinct nationalities.
Each race and each nationality is endeavoring to work out its own destiny, to the exclusion of other races and other nationalities. We hear the cry of “England for the Englishman,” of “France for the Frenchman,” of “Germany for the German,” of “Ireland for the Irish,” of “Palestine for the Jew,” of “Japan for the Japanese,” of “China for the Chinese.”
Past African leaders such as Thomas Sankara heeded this call and made trips to America like the 1984 Harlem visit in order to continue and explore the possibilities ignited by Garvey’s movement.
Its the 21st Century, and Black Panther reminds us that its still important to heed Garvey’s call because our interaction can achieve transformations beyond our own expectations. So while the critics continue to gush at the movie as a: ‘A masterful, entertaining and brilliantly smart Marvel instalment, Black Panther is the superhero film we need right now’, lets remember that perhaps there is an important message behind all the explosions, stunts and special effects….The need for greater African communication and co-operation.
This will enhance our contribution to the greater human endeavour.
Check out the links below for articles on African and African-American Identity through a comparison of Richard Wright’s ‘Native Son’ as a portrayal of the ‘Negro’ mind-state and Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’ as a depiction of the ‘African’ mind-state. We found and shared the ‘Black Panther’ Marvel Comics origin story as well as pieces on Marcus Garvey’s ‘Back To Africa’ movement and the significance of Sankara’s 1984 Harlem visit.
You can check out the rotten tomatoes site for more reviews. Our featured documentary ‘Revolution In Harlem’ on Sankara’s visit to Harlem can be viewed directly from the Homepage.
Stay tuned as we continue with ‘Pantherfest’, and dont forget to complete your free registration by clicking on ‘Become a Member’ for access to all the Content on the site.
Links & Credits
Sankara Harlem Visit: http://www.jpanafrican.org/docs/vol7no7/7.7-3-Williams-NewAfrica.pdf
Marcus Garvey: http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/marcus-garvey