Black Panther: Black Patronisation

Movie Review: Black Panther

First off, Black Panther is a movie, not a movement. I waited for the release date for over a year and when the pre-screening happened weeks before the premiere, many of the industry’s elite called it the best thing to happen since Jollof. Ryan Coogler (Director) and his crew seemed to had turned comic book to a generational hook – Wakanda Forever. But was/is it as perfect as the gods at Hollywood had/have declared, keep reading as we journey through the undulating mass that is fictional Wakanda. This movie is hardly T’Challa’s origin story; Captain America: Civil War did some justice in that department. This instead explores into the peculiarities of Wakanda and its feral yet divine culture. Spoilers ahead, continue reading at the peril of your enlightenment… Lol

Let’s dig in. Long, long ago a meteorite containing vibranium dropped somewhere in East Africa, sending five surrounding tribes into battle. A fierce warrior is visited by a mystic Panther Spirit, consequently he ingests a herb nourished by the meteor and gained superhuman powers, becoming the first Black Panther. Fast forward to 1992, King T’Chaka travels to Oakland California to visit his clandestine agent brother, N’Jobu. N’Jobu is found to be complicit in the black-market trade-off (Vibranium for ammunitions) with Klaue, number one enemy of Wakanda. N’Jobu is killed by T’Chaka and leaves his son Eric Steven, later Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) behind. The plot ensues!

The theme of the movie is centred around isolationism for the good of Wakanda or intervention for the sake of our “brothers and sisters” around the world. The neo-liberal screen writers created a world completely dissimilar to the rest of the marvel universe. A world where white “colonizers” oppress black folk through mechanisms such as the transatlantic slave trade and CIA interventions in African countries. This movie is inaccurately political, patronizing to black people and racially insulting to both black and white people. The rest of the Marvel Universe doesn’t reconcile with this sentiment. Black Panther is completely centred around race… Does the world need such a divisive tale told now? There’s also the subtle analysis depicted here between the victimized Killmonger and the gloriously successful T’Challa, who is of course basking in prosperity because the outside world (White People) had not interfered in his life, in contrast to Killmonger.

Take nothing away from Ryan Coogler’s creation though, the acting was mind-blowing, the combat scenes were furious, the CGI and the rest of the imagery were the most visually compelling I had seen from a Marvel movie in years. There were scenes that held me spellbound, especially those involving Klaue (Andy Serkis), who supplied just enough foolery and villainy. There were incredible solo performances too from Letitia Wright (Shuri), Michael B. Jordan (Eric Stevens), Winston Duke (M’baku), Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa / Black Panther), Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia) and Danai Gurira (Okoye). The movie has a large canvas of fantastic characters. Also, we had an amazing OST album curated by Kendrick Lamar, plus an African musical score that was pure fire.

But some of the message in this flick left questions asked rather than answered. Even when Wakanda decides to help, it doesn’t help the neighbouring countries in Africa, the continent it is placed in, the continent that is home to the “ancestors who jumped from ships”, the continent where dictatorial governments perpetrate inhumanities, the continent blessed in resources and yet languishing in poverty. It instead helps Oakland, California, United States of America. A first world country.

A movie that mentally shifts the responsibility of self-advancement to a group of people, solely because they are pigmented different is a tad bit racist. For one group of people to succeed, the other don’t necessarily need to feel like losers. You cannot fight racism with racism. Hollywood’s furtherance of social justice, diversity and identity politics is killing merit and there’s no stopping it. But again, take nothing away from the picture, it might still be the best cinematic rendition this quarter of the year.

 

John Iyoha

God’s wordsmith

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16 Comments

  1. I can’t agree less. However, I have ways mentioned that a work of Art must first be seen as one’ and so, It’s almost a paradigm seeking a paradise filled with queers. Beautifully written I’m looking forward to having mine critically reviewed someday.

  2. “Black Panther is a movie, not a movement” God bless you for that line *lol, the movement was beginning to give me a headache.

    Stellar review as always, I’d been waiting for this one so earnestly I almost willed the Den of thieves review into becoming this *lol. This is deep and I love that it wasn’t just an actors performance review like most person’s turn out to be and thank you for resisting the urge to drop spoilers everywhere *lol. I’m definitely seeing this one *PrancesAroundExcitedly

  3. @Iziegbe Douglas, thank you chief. I’m glad you enjoyed this one. Really can’t wait to review something you make. Thank you for dropping by

  4. I haven’t seen the movie, but this an exceptionally well written review. Great work here, especially that you gave solid reasons for such an unpopular opinion.

  5. Well written! The condescension to blacks is strong in this movie. It really is more of a fantasy than it is a sci-fi superhero movie. The black race is lagging the rest of the world, we need an escape into a utopian fictional society to feel better about ourselves, while blaming the “colonizers” for our many failings. It’s really layered with much racists undertones, if not overt ones even.
    Anyways, it’s just a movie like you said, and an ok one at that, that’s all.

  6. First, John, this is a well thought out and written review.

    Second, “Patronizing…and Racially insulting…” is the phrase I’ve been looking for, so, thank you John.

    Third, that the supposed most technologically advanced civilization in the world still used native wrestling to pick their leader is still beyond me.

    Fourth, till now, I still don’t know what the great black people of wakanda eat!

    Fifth, is the T’Challa in Civil War different fro the one in Black Panther?

    Sixth, was the fight between the two panther in the last scene animated? (It looked so to me sha).

    The costume (minus the one of the grunting men), the picture (I’m taking nothing away from it) and the Princess Shuri, all blessed me.

    “Black Panther is completely centred around race… Does the world need such a divisive tale told now?” Marvel needs to answer this one.

    “You cannot fight racism with racism” we all need to know this one.

    BTW, thank God (sipping my hot Coke) I get to keep the album😎

  7. First off, this is a beautiful review, it says most of the things I thought about this movie but could not express. Thanks.

    The movie was unnecessarily condescending and I hope this happened due to honest ignorance and lack of research by the movie makers, that is a fault on it’s own that I won’t pick.

    In a bid to make an ultimate “salad” out of African culture, Black panther was turned into a joke and mockery of everything African. Most of the things portrayed in the movie were more like “juju” than actual tech.

    The characters lacked depth, even to the lead characters, this looked more like a Disney creation than an actual superhero movie.

    Then there’s the issue of accents changing like water currents in the movie, I could practically point out three places where Chadwick used different accents.

    Then there’s the issue of producing such beautiful music only for the purpose of marketing. That’s all I hear when I listen to the OST.

    Finally, I want to congratulate the marketing officers of Marvel Inc. , they all deserve a raise this year for what they just pulled off.

  8. Thank you all for the comments. I got some insight here too
    @Samu, yea we got the album. Small victory
    @Oreva,”I hope this happened due to honest ignorance and lack of research by the movie makers”, yes. Me too, I hope.

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