“Black Panther” Through the Eyes of a Black Woman

In case you’ve been living under a rock, “Black Panther,” Marvel’s newest superhero, premiered on February 16th. Since its opening it has shattered records, including highest IMAX ticket pre-sales, highest Rotten Tomatoes rating (97%) for a Marvel movie, and biggest opening for an African-American director, Ryan Coogler. The film features Chadwick Boseman as the title character, Michael B. Jordan as his cousin turned nemesis Erik Killmonger, and Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira as Nakia and Okoye, two badass Black women and two of T’Challa’s most trusted friends. The movie continues the storyline that was introduced in “Captain America: Civil War,” and follows T’Challa as he navigates becoming King of Wakanda.

Usually when I see an action movie I find myself overwhelmed by the action sequences. There are so many moving pieces and people–and in Okoye’s case, wigs–that it can be difficult to keep track of what everyone is doing. But from the first skirmish to the final stand, each punch and kick was easy to follow.

When you see Black Panther in theatres, you’re getting a movie that is visually stunning and filled with sarcasm and witty one-liners. Everytime I see a Marvel movie I forget how funny they end up and Black Panther was no exception. Shuri once again stole the show–if we weren't in awe of her explanations of the intricacies of Wakanda technology with ease, we were laughing at the jokes she made at Agent Ross’ expense.

Twitter user Waris (@diasporicblues) did Wakanda lovers everywhere a favor and made a thread of all of the different African tribes and cultures that are in “Black Panther.” From the Basotho blankets that W’Kabi and his people wore in the film to Queen Ramonda’s headdress, this thread is extremely helpful for those who want to relate what they saw on screen in the fictitious country of Wakanda to specific places in Africa.

Not only was the world blessed with a Black superhero movie–Kendrick Lamar gifted fans with “Black Panther the Album,” an original work filled with 14 songs featuring talented Black artists like SZA, Khalid and The Weeknd.

  

Being a black woman means that my options for movies with people who look like me–who aren’t playing the same stock characters over and over again–are limited. For two hours and 14 minutes, I got to see black men and women begin the definition of Black excellence as they completely rewrote how a black character is supposed to be portrayed on screen. Wakanda has technology that the most “advanced” nations in the world could never even dream of, and it’s a country full of black people! As much as I love T’Challa, and the kingdom he fights for, Nakia, Shuri, Okoye and the rest of the Dora Milaje were the real heroes of this movie. 2018 gave is the STEM icon that we’ve all been waiting for in Princess Shuri, played by Letitia Wright. Now little girls all over the world are seeing themselves in her and the other women in the film. Regardless of how you feel about the movie, the importance of the representation in “Black Panther” is undeniable.

I haven’t been excited for a movie in the same way that I was excited for “Black Panther” in a long time. When the release date was revealed, I marked it on my calendar and I planned my outfit weeks in advance–I wanted to see the movie dressed in my Wakandan best, of course. The plan was to see it opening weekend, and I was lucky enough to see it with my sister and parents in Chicago, and I’m still counting down the days until I see it again.