Has ANYONE seen the movie Black Panther for the first time in a theater later than I? Taking off a day from work, I finally trekked out to the Regal Cinema in Colonie Center, near Albany on April 30, three days after the new Avengers movie, Infinity War opened.
I so seldom go to the mainline theaters that I had forgotten how many commercials there were, BEFORE the seven movie trailers, including for the aforementioned Avengers film.
Seeing it so late, after it had recorded $688 million domestically and $645 million overseas, I’m not sure what I’d add to what my friend Alan David Doane wrote: “Millions of African-Americans and others… found in the recent Black Panther film an inspirational culture in which they could see themselves and their own history.”
I will say that I spent time collecting articles that remained unread until after I saw the film. Check out a couple articles from Medium, 5 Lessons from Black Panther That Can Save Our Lives — and Transform Black Politics and Why ‘Black Panther’ Is a Defining Moment for Black America. From the latter: “Ryan Coogler’s film is a vivid re-imagination of something black Americans have cherished for centuries — Africa as a dream of our wholeness, greatness and self-realization.”
So naturally, when black people are feeling that, as Democracy for America put it, the flick is “a refreshing reminder of the power of representation in media,” some other folks feel somehow threatened. I mentioned this some weeks ago, and people seemed genuinely surprised; they don’t read enough right-wing literature.
I highly recommend reading The Tragedy of Erik Killmonger. The article contains major spoilers, none of which I will post here.
“Black Panther is a love letter to people of African descent all over the world. Its actors, its costume design, its music, and countless other facets of the film are drawn from all over the continent and its diaspora, in a science-fiction celebration of the imaginary country of Wakanda, a high-tech utopia that is a fictive manifestation of African potential unfettered by slavery and colonialism.
“But it is first and foremost an African American love letter, and as such it is consumed with The Void, the psychic and cultural wound caused by the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, the loss of life, culture, language, and history that could never be restored.”
The subtitle of the Atlantic article is: “The revolutionary ideals of Black Panther’s profound and complex villain have been twisted into a desire for hegemony.” That’s how certain people, certainly not I, chose to view it.
I am hoping that, even though it came out with a the non-prestige February release date, it gets some Oscar love. As others have noted, Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger (Creed), and the lead women, may have more screen charisma than Chadwick Boseman (42) as the title character, T’Challa.
Before Black Panther, I had seen only one Marvel Cinematic Universe movie since 2011, Ant-Man (2015). Seems that I probably need to catch up at some point.