Let me just kick this off by saying that I really wanted to like Black Panther. Truly, from the bottom of my heart, I went in excited and hopeful. I was not preparing to hate watch. I was excited about a Marvel movie that truly represents minority struggles and social justice issues revolving around masked oppression.
But it fell short, and this is why:
Issue one: Despite its advanced technology and incredible level of intelligence, the process of choosing someone to govern Wakanda was based on primitive practices. It’s ridiculous to imply that even though their scientific amelioration is superior to that of the United States, they can’t develop a more democratic or at least less violent system of government. The idea that the biggest kid on the playground gets to be king is dated and uncivilized. It perpetuates the idea that minorities are nothing but “savages.” This is one of the central stereotypes that I was hoping the movie would help debunk, but it just supported it.
Issue two: Terrorist attack scene. An African man yelling in Arabic and promising to murder a woman he has kidnapped and “forced” into a scarf. Last time I checked, they do not speak Arabic in that area. This was absolutely unnecessary. It contributed nothing to the plot, and it had nothing to do with the overall theme. This was a movie about the African American struggle in America. That’s wonderful. More of that, please. However, it is impossible to make a successful social justice film while perpetuating a stereotype that affects a large chunk of the African American population. The bulk of the Muslim community in America are African American. Instead of representing them, this film solidified the perception that they are nothing but violent religious fanatics.
Issue three: The idea that the African American community needs a country across oceans to save them. I would have loved to see the Black Panther be an American-born person who rose to the top to save his own people. We have so many bright and talented kids in this country. Validate them, please.
Issue four: It doesn’t make sense that a country on a different continent would get involved with African Americans, when life in their neighboring countries is beyond awful. The most impoverished country in the world is the Central African Republic, closely followed by Congo and Burundi—all African nations. It is neither logical nor fair for help to be extended to the United States when there are issues far more pressing going on right at home base. Aside from this, there is a serious displacement that African people who move to the United States face upon arrival. Fact is, they are often shunned by the people with whom they are “supposed to” belong, and they suffer the same injustices African Americans face without being accepted in their own community.
Issue five: It also felt like a lot of the funny moments (which were admittedly hysterical) were a distraction from the moments where the problematic issues were most pronounced.
In regards to casting and special effects, the movie was absolutely spectacular. Every actor was perfect for the role and played it excellently.
However, it felt as though this movie was more about finally having a black superhero than promoting social justice.
I haven’t experienced that big a cinematic let-down since HP6.
But that’s another story.