This is of course a super late post given that Black Panther came out a few weeks ago at this point. But I wanted to get this written up anyway, since I did like this movie immensely, and wanted to document my thoughts. 😀
I’ve been seeing discussion posts all over the place about it, but notably on The Mary Sue and Tor.com, both of which have had multiple interesting commentaries on various aspects of the film. They’ve ranged from the overall joy of fans of color for this film, which is massive, to the rightful and eminently correct praise of the multiple awesome women in the cast.
Now, while I’ve been a solid fan of the MCU since the first Iron Man film came out, I’m also of course squarely in the White Chick bracket of fandom. As such, I cannot by definition have the same sort of gut-deep reaction of joy to this film that a fan of color could. But I will say this: given how much joy I got out of seeing Wonder Woman, I can totally extrapolate. I am delighted that this film exists, and that fans of color get to rejoice in it. The opportunity to support it by giving it my theater-going money has pleased me, and I did in fact have enough fun seeing it that I’m strongly considering seeing it again.
For the more in-depth details of things I loved, have a look behind the fold!
First off, hands down, the biggest thing I loved about it was how it contained multiple awesome women. Nakia. Okoye. Ramonda. And Shuri. Especially Shuri.
I adore Shuri and her scientific prowess with all my heart. <3
And this girl is a teenager. She’s that young and she already has a spectacular lab, and is building fancy nanite-driven suits for her brother and pulling off massive spectacular acts of healing, as well, fixing the “broken white boys”. I am in awe of her and I desperately want to see Tony Stark’s jaw hit the floor when he sees what Shuri is capable of. I want to see her geeking out with Bruce Banner, too. 😀
Right behind her on the list of Wakandan Women I Admire is Okoye. Because holy gods she was stunning. Not only in her fighting form, but also in her refusal to take any shit whatsoever from anyone else in the movie. Including her king. “Don’t freeze.” “I never freeze.” Muahaha.
I also quite adored her barb to Everett Ross: “Does she speak English?” “When she wants to.”
And: “If he touches you again, I am going to impale him on that desk.” >:D
Moreover, when Killmonger wins the challenge and takes over, she at first very reluctantly supports that. Because, as she says, her oath of fealty is to the throne of Wakanda and not to any specific king. But she also is absolutely unafraid to bail on that when required, and to call Killmonger out for being unworthy of said throne.
She even faces down with her lover W’Kabi, willing to fight against him without question if the fate of Wakanda is on the line.
Okoye in short spends the entire movie taking no shit from ANY man in the movie. It is GLORIOUS.
I saw reports going around of the hashtag #NakiaWasRight, and multiple descriptions of her as the true hero of this movie. Particularly in how she made a lot of the same arguments Killmonger did, only not driven by toxic rage.
I am totally on Team Nakia. Partly out of appreciation for her badassery, which was subtler than Okoye’s, as befits a spy. But also because I quite liked her practicality–being willing to put on the armor of a Dora Milaje, even if she’s not actually one of them, just out of the general need to protect herself in battle. And I liked, too, her downplayed romance with T’Challa. Just enough there to indicate that yes, these two have a history, about which I was quite curious. But that history didn’t need to be in the movie, either. There was just enough of it to give an additional flavor to an already rich storyline, and it was nice that that flavor didn’t have to overwhelm everything else.
And speaking of T’Challa
Chadwick Boseman followed up beautifully on his debut as T’Challa in Captain America: Civil War. I love this character’s grace and dignity, and his humor as well. One could argue that he is not particularly complex or deep as a character, but I am entirely okay with that. I’ve said it before about Cap and about Superman, and I’ll say it here, too: I want my superheroes to be first and foremost heroic. T’Challa is that in spades.
And I love, love, love that he’s surrounded by all these excellent women, and is unafraid to rely upon their various strengths when he needs to.
I love Martin Freeman to bits, but it’s official, I can’t look at this guy anymore and not think “Bilbo”. 😀
But aside from the one little corner of my brain that spent the whole movie wondering why Bilbo was hanging out in Wakanda, I did quite like this character’s participation in the plot and how he aided the Wakandans without overshadowing any of them. Particularly his taking over Shuri’s remote piloting system and helping to make sure that none of the weaponry actually got out of the country.
I cannot, of course, mention Martin Freeman without mentioning the other “Tolkien white guy” (ar ar ar, I giggled quite a bit at that joke when I saw it going around) in the cast, Andy Serkis. It is, I gotta say, a refreshing change of pace to see him playing a role where we get to see his actual face, vs. him hiding behind motion capture. And Klaue was an excellent beta villain. Loved his arm cannon!
Which brings us, of course, to the alpha villain: Killmonger.
A great deal has been said about this guy in particular. About how he’s arguably the best Marvel villain since Loki, how his motivations resonate with viewers of color–and specifically, African-Americans. Like I said before, I’m a white chick, so there’s only so much I can say about that. But I can say that I found him absolutely compelling. He’s a great example of a villain who’s the hero of his own story, with motives that make dire sense.
And I really liked his ending. T’Challa let him die with dignity.
(Also, completely separately from anything in the actual movie: I am charmed as all get out that the Internet has apparently decided that Killmonger, like the actor who plays him, is a huge anime nerd!)
Wakanda in general
I really appreciated that Wakanda’s long history of hiding itself away was really the entire point of the conflict of the plot. It’s all very well and good to say that it’s this awesome fantasy land where its people live technologically awesome lives, which is certainly very comic-book-y in general. But what makes it interesting is Wakanda’s history in contrast with the rest of the world. And how Wakanda’s going to change things now that T’Challa has decided his country is going to out itself.
That mid-credits scene was glorious, with that one last disbelieving comment directed at T’Challa by the delegate, and that “oh dude you have no idea” smile T’Challa gives him back.
I am brimming over with questions now about how Wakanda’s stepping onto the world scene is going to change things in the MCU. Particularly given the motherlode of vibranium it’s sitting on. My housemate Paul expressed some dubiousness about how much vibranium is apparently in Wakanda in the MCU, arguing that it reduces the specialness of Cap’s shield. I can’t exactly argue with that. And even I had to wonder exactly how much vibranium Wakanda has–and, if that metal came to Earth via a meteor, how the hell big was that meteor? It had to be pretty frickin’ gigantic to give them the amounts of vibranium that seem to be present on camera in this movie.
And on a related note, especially given the aforementioned Tolkien white guys (aheh) in the movie, every time we got a shot of the vibranium mines, I kept thinking “The Wakandans delved too greedily, and too deep.” >:D
But anyway, even aside from my passionate desire to see Stark and Banner glom onto Shuri to get her to teach them All the Things, I’m so very, very curious now as to how Wakanda will change the balance of the world. And what all will have changed by the time Infinity War gets here.
The reveal about Bucky
After Shuri’s crack during the movie about her brother bringing her “another broken white boy” to fix, it was of course no surprise at all to see Bucky show up in the second of the credits scenes. I’ve seen real interesting commentary about that too, of course. In particular, I’ve seen it noted that Bucky seems like he’s been genuinely healed, and how the children called him “White Wolf”, a reference that has import if you’re familiar with the comics.
I found an article that talked about this in more depth, and how Shuri apparently did in fact heal Bucky in the comics. There were panels of her talking about how she had to go into his brain and separate out the bits that were genuinely him, vs. the crap that Hydra put in there. And that she essentially had to reboot him.
Which interests me way more for what it says about Shuri than what it says about Bucky, really. This young woman is clearly a frickin’ genius on multiple axes.
All in all
This movie was excellent. A++, will definitely purchase when it’s available on Blu-ray, and may go back for another round in the theaters. 😀