Before I get to the movie, I want to speak on something that has been on my mind for a while about this movie.
In 2015, I covered the biggest boxing event in history in regards to revenue and media coverage Mayweather-Pacquiao. There were only 100 media people who were allowed in the arena to watch the fight.
It should have been one of the proudest moments of my media career, something I could tell my grandkids about when I was in a rocking chair, but instead, it was by far the worse experience I’ve ever had in my career. A career that started at 16 when I was rapping school news updates over the HS home room speakers.
Why was it so bad?
The first event I ever covered as credentialed media was a boxing event. It has a special place in my heart; it is different from the big leagues like NFL, NBA, NCAA, and others. The reporters who cover boxers aren’t all big timers; they are small sites who love boxing and do their best to keep the sport growing. Those small reporters were bullied out of the way by mainstream media when it came to Mayweather-Pacquiao. Reporters who didn’t know the difference between a jab and a cross were now writing think pieces about boxing. It was horrible to watch how it all went down and how those reporters who spent YEARS covering the sport exclusively had to watch the biggest fight of our lifetime from a non-airconditioned tent.
I bring that up because that is how Black Panther has started to feel as it is set to debut. You have two set of things that are going and combined it has caused a lot of unnecessary drama around the film (for the record unnecessary drama has also driven up ticket sales, so it isn’t all a bad thing).
Black people and people of color in this country have always had things taken away from us, starting with our freedom. Even in 2018 every single day we see things like racism or a cop taking a life of an unarmed black person with no consequence. So when we feel like anything is ours, we get overprotective and try to hold on to it, because we feel like it is going to be taken away and gentrified.
Black Panther has become the BLACK PEOPLE’S SUPERHERO MOVIE, and because of that, some have to try to ostracize everyone else from the movie, but this is where the Mayweather-Pacquiao analogy comes into play.
Black Panther is a comic book character. People who are fans of comics and comic book movies have known about Black Panther long before many of the people who are trying to claim him have. The first time I saw Black Panther was in a Spider-Man comic in the 90s. To tell some kid or teenager who has collected comics all their lives or some young adult who has never missed an opening for Superhero movie in their life that Black Panther isn’t for them is just flat-out wrong.
Superheros inspire people, and they come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. You don’t have to be a woman to enjoy Wonder Woman, you don’t have to be rich and demented to like Batman, you don’t have to be a down on your luck geek to relate to Spider-Man, and you certainly don’t have to be black to enjoy Black Panther.
It is great to see black people represented so well in a big budget movie, it will open a lot of doors in Hollywood, and hopefully, it inspires not just black kids but kids of all races and colors. This should be a movie for inclusion, not exclusion. President Obama couldn’t become President just with black people voting and Black Panther is not going to crush it at the box office just because black people are going, don’t try to exclude people who know more about the character than you ever will just because they don’t look like you, that makes you no better than the people you claim to be fighting against.
Now, that I got that off my chest let’s move on to the actual movie, which is not a Civil Rights movie, but very much a Superhero movie speaking on real things that are happening in our country today.
The reason I say the conflict between T’Challa and Killmonger is more Biggie and Pac than MLK and Malcolm X is because of Killmonger’s complexities. I always felt Biggie was trying to keep the peace and do things they right way, but it was Tupac for lack of a better phrase who wanted to burn it all down. It was Tupac who made us feel uncomfortable, but telling is the uncomfortable truth. Biggie was fine just being a rapper, Tupac wanted to be a revolutionary. It caused them obviously to butt heads on a lot of things even though there was an underlying thought they weren’t all that different, just had different ways of seeing the world.
Michael B. Jordan is the real star of the movie. I always say a Superhero movie is only as good as its main villain and Jordan is excellent as Killmonger, simply because a lot of the things he says in the movie you will agree it. Sometimes villians in these movies have no motivation for want they do beyond just being evil, Killmonger reasonsing for his actions make so much sense, so of you might actually start rooting for him at the least you will feel sorry for him.
When you watch the movie and get to the climatic end, I dare you to say that Killmonger isn’t telling the truth.
This is a movie about a very rich country trying to decide if they want to stay rich and in shadows or help people around the world. Killmonger like 2Pac had the right idea and was “woke” as the kids would say, it was just his execution that was the problem. I understand that they had to make Killmonger a little crazy because if he weren’t you would be rooting for him and not T’Challa.
The cast is excellent, the chemistry is great, and the way that the story is presented makes you feel something for everyone involved. That is a testament to director Ryan Coogler and his talent.
The fights scenes that don’t involve Black Panther heavily are the best in the movie. I know you have to have them in these big budget movies, but the seem more like fillers than anything else. This is a movie that works because of the strength of the personal relationships between the characters, something that I hope continues in the sequels. It is one of the better Marvel produced movies, it isn’t THE BEST, but it is certainly hovering around that top 5, which is nothing to sneeze at.
4 out 5 Dollarnaire stars.