Some “Black Panther” thoughts

Or, rather, Black Panther thoughts, but I can’t format a post title — the point being, that is, that I want to say a few things about the movie, not the titular character.  And I should preface this with the comment that I am not a comic book reader so I cannot really fit this into any kind of overall arc, though the movie itself was fairly independent of the other films in the overall universe, except for a bit of background from the Civil War movie.  Have I rambled enough to be able to dive in without revealing spoilers to casual readers scrolling through the blog?  No?  OK.  SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS because I’m not so talented as to be able to discuss a film without giving away the plot, though, in this case, there weren’t really, it seemed to me, any big secrets to be spoiled.

OK, here goes:

It was, it seemed to me, not really about the plot in the first place.  I mean, some parts of the premise were not entirely credible, as plot goes:  sophisticated highly-evolved, peace-loving society decides its ruler by ritual combat, and it somehow just happens that, up until Our Story, the heir has always been able to repel challenges, even without the magic Black Panther-power.  But when Killmonger defeats T’Challa, the army declares loyalty to him because he won the fight fair-and-square and/or because they supported his message of world conquest.  (Discussion question:  which was it?)  And it was entirely predictable that T’Challa would survive (not just because we’ve seen the Infinity War trailers); moviegoers just didn’t know how, exactly.

But the movie wasn’t really about plot.  It was about creating a different world, in the same way as the first Harry Potter film spent a large portion of the runtime on showing us Hogwarts, with the costuming, and the tech, and even the music.  And, yes, seeing that alternate world be populated with Africans amazing the white American with their technology, instead of the reverse, was an interesting reversal.  And it clearly had a message of overcoming differences and self-interest to work together for the common good that you could take as anti-Trumpian or anti-Identity Politics, or both, depending on your preferences.  And it was the villain, not the hero, who sought to take revenge for centuries of colonialism, though at the same time, the character Nakia, not in reaction to Killmonger but from the start of the film, wants to reach out and help the “outside world.”

What about the snippet that I read, when it first came out, that this purported to show what Africa would have been like were it not for colonialism?  That might be the perspective of some viewers, but I didn’t really see it in the film itself, where it was, it seemed to me, fairly clear that it was the power of vibranium that fueled their wealth and their technology.

One beef I had with the movie, though, was that which irritates me about American moviemaking in general, that,  by convention, movies set in foreign countries, with characters speaking foreign languages, speak English with a foreign accent.  In this case, it seemed particularly “off” given that Wakanda, though somewhere in Africa, is shown as a place that’s essentially as magical and otherworldly as Asgard — and the Asgardians, as I recall, speak American (or British or Australian) English, rather than, say, with an Old Norse accent, whatever that would be.

And that’s all I’ve got for you, because I’m mostly interested in hearing what you all thought of it, and whether your perception differed from mine.

 

Image:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABlack_Panther.JPG; By Rute Martins of Leoa’s Photography (www.leoa.co.za) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons.  Because I really hate trying to figure out the parameters of fair use.

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