* Drinks the heart shaped herb elixir to gain the power of di bleck pentha*
Let’s talk Black Panther. It was incredible! In my humble opinion, it is the best marvel film to date – Thor Ragnorak is a close second. Coming from a person that is a marvel comic enthusiast, and a black woman, I’ve been waiting for this film to arrive for a long time! The use of themes, such as strong black women, black power, family, love and history – were well put together and told a story that is much needed in this current social climate.
The narrative of black women who are strong, and have equal rights and access to power as their male counterparts IS powerful and important. For example, the Dora Milaje serve as the King’s special forces and are one of – if not the most – advanced and skilled fighters illustrating a powerful image of black women. Also, the Dora Milaje pays homage to the Dahomey Amazons who were also an all-female military force showing that strong women are already a part of the history and narrative of black people. This idealistic vision of equality helps to give us an insight into what a society where we are all equal looks like. The significance of having dark skinned women with short hair or bald heads of hair IS powerful. Through Okoye and Nakia, Black Panther is able helps to subvert the Eurocentric ideals of beauty that deem those who have darker skin, wide noses, coily hair and a muscular structure as unattractive and unwomanly. Ryan Coogler uses the female characters in the film to represent a beauty that mainstream society problematises. These images and representations of black women helps us as black people to subvert the teachings of colourism that are prevalent in our communities. It is a small step to achieving a larger outcome.
Now, onto the theme of black power. The presence of black power being free from the influence of western ideals and “democracy” was quite significant. Coogler subtly explores the idea of the West deeming Wakanda as a primitive system at the start of the film. However, later we see that Wakanda has a system that includes all tribes – similar to a socialist and democratic society – who come to an agreement that somehow incorporates their own ideas, opinions and culture. Here, this image of a black community shows that we are not all homogenous (in terms of tribe, culture etc.), through some shared cultural norms and ideas of community, we are able to come to a collective decision together. This is significant because it shows that western systems and ideas of power and/or rule, are not necessary to have a “civilised” society.
Family and love were also key themes that I was happy to see Coogler focus on. He showed how important it is to have positive relationships with family and love interests. He also showed the complexity of loving family or friends who are troubled or make immoral decisions – such as King of the Hoteps Killmonger. The movie also touched on the importance of telling the right history – the film didn’t shy away from the damaging effects of global colonisation and the whitewashing of history.
I could truly go on and on about the significance of this movie forever! There are many themes I did not touch on such as the gap and separation present amongst those in the African Diaspora. But on the whole, having a mainly all-black cast that surpassed all that believed that having an all-black cast won’t sell, just shows that we want to see more films that are not stereotypical “black films” with stereotypical narratives (slaves, maids etc). We know these stories all too well!
The success of Black Panther just goes to show that we desire to see positive and diverse representations of black people who are often go unrepresented and misrepresented. WE want to see more Shuri’s, more Nakia’s, more Okoye’s and more T’Challa’s.