I saw Black Panther three times this weekend. I had planned to see it that many times weeks before it was released. I’m a Marvel fan. I’ve seen every movie and TV show (besides Iron Fist cuz meh). Nobody had to tell me to stay till after the credits. I didn’t ask “Who’s that” when the White Wolf appeared in Wakanda at the end. The fact that Black Panther was going to be filled with Africans was just an added bonus.
And maybe that’s why a lot of these critiques simply don’t make sense to me. Folks are out here trying so hard to appear woke, they’re making non-sensical arguments about a movie that is set in a universe they don’t know anything about. But with masses of Africans across the globe coming together to celebrate the representation, the woker-than-thou crew has to find a way to make themselves stand out from other Africans.
And what frustrates me is that a lot of the Africans I see offering these off-base critiques, have a large WHITE audience they are performing for. There is a trend of gaining social capital from white folks for being a visible activist. White folks cling to the ones who get recognized for their magazine covers and safety pin boxes. What happens when those same people offer 10x more negative than positive about a movie that very clearly brought a great deal of joy to the global African community? I already see white folks taking those critiques and using them to try to silence our joy.
I’m just not here for it. There is plenty in the movie to discuss and critique. There are plenty of parallels between this fictitious world and our real one. But there are also a lot of reaches being made that I won’t allow to overshadow the immense joy I saw on my daughter and niece’s faces as they watched the movie. And there are just too many flying across my timeline, so I want to address some of them here.
“Wakandan’s were selfish and exclusionary”
So were the Amazons in Wonder Woman but I hear nothing about that. I can only fault Africans who choose self-preservation so much. I get it. We do this with our own relatives half the time. Also, Wakandans aren’t your mules. No African is responsible for ending white supremacy.
“The Africans should’ve been more welcoming of Killmonger as a fellow African.”
Okay, so you get your DNA test results and discover you’re 25% Nigerian and try to go over there and take some shit over. Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you to come back to the States sans the Jordans you had on your feet when you left. African Americans have a very warped idea of Africa and what is owed to us. It’s home, and it’s nice to be welcomed. But you can’t go in there demanding stuff and trying to take over.
“Killmonger disregarded Black women.”
And Black men and white women and men and pretty much everybody but himself. Next.
“They made Killmonger out to be the bad guy, but he had the right idea.”
The idea of mass liberation was great. And if we were enslaved, I’d be all for a Toussaint L’overture approach. But it’s not realistic today. As an African woman, the idea of arming Africans globally scares me. African men have still caused more physical harm to me than any other oppressor. If T’challa gave one of my abusive exes (some of whom are seen as leaders) a vibrainiam weapon, my ass might be the first person they use it on, or whichever woman they are currently abusing.
This is also a universe where people like Cottonmouth (Luke Cage’s villain played by Mahershala Ali) exist. Giving weapons to folks just because they are Black won’t save the Black people who are harmed by other Black people.
“Wakanda’s solution is exactly what white saviors do”
How is setting up an outreach center (presumably just step one) that different from the Black Panther Party setting up a breakfast program? Should they just give every African a bag of money and have them buy their liberation from white folks? T’challa’s plan is to provide aide and education, FUBU style. No matter what the end goal is, we still need to address the immediate needs, we still need to prepare people for it.
“There’s no light skinned Black folks in Wakanda.”
Yeah, they were too busy being in every other movie. They’re already in Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy and X-men. And Terrance Howard already burned his Marvel bridges so tough titty. This is a fictional African nation, in the center of Africa and untouched by colonization. Ain’t supposed to be a bunch of light skinned folks anywhere. We get our shine elsewhere. Stop acting like white folks and shut up.
“They killed the revolutionary character.”
Of course they did. This is a Marvel movie. It’s based on a story that has already existed in a universe that is very well established. This is the same universe that ousted Captain fucking America for not wanting to be regulated by the government. How far do you think they could’ve gone in this movie?
Also, this is Disney.
If we actually take the movie for what it is, of course it’s going to fall short of our revolutionary dreams. It’s not supposed to be a guide to African liberation. It’s supposed to be a story in a universe of super heroes and alien invaders. It was a story that showed the good and bad in all of us. It showed how the decisions we make can lead to the creation of our own demise. It showed the corruption of power and revenge. It pretty much did what every other superhero movie to come before it has. There’s a good guy and a bad guy, they fight and the good guy wins. The end.
Side note: Despite all the critiques, Erik Killmonger Stevens is the best villain/anti-hero I’ve seen on screen. They gave him a very relatable back story that allowed the audience to empathize with his rage. He shows how revenge can consume you and turn you into what you hate. And Michale B Jordan acted the hell out of the role. He is the best villain in all of the Marvel Universe, in my honest opinion.