On Wakanda: My Black Panther Review
This movie has taken over the world! It’s been probably the biggest pop culture moment in the last decade, and the most highly anticipated film in a long while. It’s finally here, and it has lived up to every piece of hype it has gotten. I’ve seen it twice so far, and will see it again. But I’ve been talking about it nonstop. It was hard to figure out where to start with this review, because left to my own devices, I’d just drop a YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS gif and walk away. There is a lot to discuss about this film, and a lot to unpack, so let’s do it by sections, starting with the facts, and making my way to the feels.
Ok I warned you.
The History-Making Marvel (you see what I did there)
Black Panther has shattered records and made history multiple times over. It’s been one of Marvel’s most expensive films to date, and definitely the most expensive first film in a franchise, and that’s saying a lot!
And the numbers are in. It has made $404 million worldwide, with $235 million of that earned in the United States. It’s made more money than any other Marvel movie in its opening weekend. It’s the highest opening EVER for a film released in February. INSANE. But surprising? No. We been tryna tell folks that films starring Black people, written by Black people and about Black people can be profitable. Black Panther is a giant “fuck you” to anyone who thought otherwise.
The Diasporic Diversity
Directed by Ryan Coogler, and featuring an all-star lineup of Black Hollywood, this movie has given us something to look forward to. This Black ass film even shows diversity within the diaspora. Chadwick Bozeman (T’Challa), Michael B. Jordan (Killmonger), Angela Bassett (Queen Mother) and Forest Whitaker (Zuri) are from the United States. Danai Gurira (Okoye) is from Zimbabwe. Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia) is Kenyan, born in Mexico. Letitia Wright (Shuri) is Guyanese. Daniel Kaluuya (W’Kabi) is English and Ugandan. Florence Kasumba (Ayo) is Ugandan-German. Winston Duke (M’Baku) is from Trinidad and Tobago. COME THRU, DIASPORIC REPRESENTATION!!!
We are not a monolith, and even when we’re all from different places, our melanin unites us. We still look and act and talk like kinfolk. Speaking of melanin…
The Beauty of the Film
I’ve watched a lot of Marvel films, although I am not a deep geek who can cite origin stories. I gotta say that Black Panther, is the most visually beautiful film they’ve had. This isn’t a world that exists in some monochromatic space planet. The world of Wakanda is full of color in every single way and it jumps off the screen and makes your pupils do the wop.
The first scene at Warrior Falls, where all the tribes are standing at the edge of the cliff, singing and swaying, took my breath away for a second.
The colors, the movement, the depth, the vibrancy. I was mesmerized. I got all misty-eyed. My goodness. It was art. It was just a feast for my eyes.
Plus, the way they honor the melanin of the characters. Holy shit. The lighting had me distracted as I lost myself in all the Noir Pixie Dust I was being presented with. You might take it for granted until you watch other films and realize how flat they have us looking sometimes, because cinematographers have only perfected the art of lighting white folks. Black Panther? SHID. They got the real MVPs. I had to tell myself to focus a couple of times when they did closeups of Lupita. MADAME, WHICH KIN’ VOODOO IS THIS YOU’RE DOING WITH THIS FLAWLESS SKIN OF YOURS!!! Chei! Skin just forever unable to flaw, and her melanin magic was on 10. Daniel Kaluuya was up there shining. Danai looking like her undertones are made of gold. I was like “I need everyone’s regimens post-haste!” And can someone please tell Auntie Angela Bassett to stop killing unicorns and bathing in their tears??? It’s not even fair to be almost 60 and look like that.
This whole cast just FAHNER than split frog hair. Gahtdamb. They reflected how beautiful chocolate is, and a little black girl or a little black boy can be like “I look like them and it’s perfectly fine and I’m beautiful just like I am.”
A feast for my eyes, salve for my soul, and balm for my spirit to see.
BRUH!!! The costumes in this film gave me all the life I needed! Well-researched, and showing influences from the entire continent. Ruth Carter and her costume designing team reached across the continent to make these characters’ clothes their own characters.
The blankets worn by W’Kabu’s people are BaSotho blankets from South Africa. The Nigerian in me was GAGGING when I saw Zuri wearing an agbada, which is traditional Yoruba wear. And all those embroidered kaftans that T’Challa had? I was calling my tailor like “sooo I need one in my size.” But the BEST thing he wore? That kente robe towards the end. My Ghanaian folks should be swelling with pride because he did it justice.
The fiercest costume had to be the Dora Milaje ones, though. That red leather with gold shields and armor, tailored to the GAWDS and saying “I am unfuckwitable” even before they spoke was what I needed in my life! I’m pretty sure for Halloween I’m going as a Dora Milaje, shaved head and all. It complemented them, was functional, without sexualizing them.
SO GOOD! I wanna go buy tight leather now so I can wear it into meetings. Anywho, that takes me into why I truly loved this film.
The Superpower of the Women
Black Panther did its’ women justice, and that was one of the things I appreciated most in the film. The reverence for women in this film made me cry. It’s such a difference from how women are typically portrayed. We’re the “Princess” who Mario needs to save typically, but in this film the women are the ones doing the saving, coming to the rescue multiple times. Black Panther wasn’t the only one with superpowers, as the women he surrounded himself with had their own.
The smartest person in the film happens is a woman. Princess Shuri’s superpower is her brain, and seeing how confident she was in how much she knows her shit made my geeky heart well.
The most technologically advanced country in the world has a Chief Tech Officer who is a girl. I WANT TO GO TO THERE. She put spines back together in 24 hours, made shoes that gave off no sound, and created a suit that uses any force that has been sent towards it, as energy to fight. IF THAT AIN’T WHAT BLACK FOLKS BEEN DOING SINCE FOREVER!!! That was poetic in itself. Shuri’s a genius, and never was she told to show receipts because she’s a girl. Her intelligence was not just accepted, it but allowed her the authority to be in that position.
My favorite character in the movie might be Okoye, the general of the Dora Milaje warrior women. She’s such a fierce human, who is principled and strong and full of integrity. She commands respect the moment you see her, and she’s an astute strategist who T’Challa listens to and trusts. Her superpower is her brawn, but she’s still tender and warm.
She has a man she loves (W’Kabi). However, she won’t put it over her duty. THAT in itself, makes her a revolutionary character. Women are usually written to be love crazy and will die for that. Nah, she’d die for her country. That is all. My favorite scene is the one where she stands in front of M’Baku as W’Kabi (riding a rhino) charges him. The rhino stops right in front of her and licks her face. BECAUSE HE KNOWS THAT’S HIS MASTER’S BOO. And when she pulls her spear on her W’Kabi, and he asks if she’d kill him, she says “For Wakanda? Without question.” And he drops his weapon and gets on his knee. THAT was the sexiest thing in the whole film. That moment, when the man who loved this woman dropped his weapon for her. Chile, that scene might have gotten me ovulating. I want it as a poster in my office. FALL ON YOUR KNEES FOR MY LOVE SO I KNOW IT’S REAL.
And of course, there’s Nakia. As a spy, she’s supposed to be a real G who moves in silence, but she was so necessary. She can be easily overlooked, but she was really important to Wakanda turning the corner. From the beginning, she was saving people. The first person was the kid who had been kidnapped to fight with Boko Haram in Nigeria. As Black Panther rolled through killing all the soldiers, she unmasked the boy to show he was only a kid. Her superpower is her heart and love for people.
She ends up saving the Queen and Shuri. Her quick thinking in grabbing a heart-shaped herb before they were burned (on N’Jadaka’s command) ultimately saved T’Challa, bringing him back from the ancestral realm. Her main mission from jump was to get Wakanda to use its resources to help Black people all over the world, and she was a spy because she refused to sit down as her country locked its doors. I think Nakia was the conscience of this film, and funny enough, she and Killmonger wanted the same thing. They just had completely different approaches. As people hail him, she deserves the love too.
Throughout this film, T’Challa was surrounded by women and he leans on them constantly and trusts them implicitly. His mother, Ramonda, his sister, Shuri, his love, Nakia, and his protector, Okoye. These women matter to him, and they played a part in his decisions. How these women were responded to by the men gave me feels. They were loved and cherished and respected. And the fact that THAT made them revolutionary is actually pretty sad. It was also heartening to see, because I think they are the reason T’Challa’s bravado is not at toxic masculinity levels. Related…
The Tenderness of the Men
I appreciated how the men in this film were allowed tenderness when it mattered. T’Challa is different from a lot of superheroes I’ve watched on screen. He isn’t just surrounded by one woman, who he only cares about because he wants to bone her. The man has as many women around him as men. On his mission to South Korea, who’d he have? He declined W’Kabi’s request to come, taking Nakia and Okoye instead. And Shuri was at home giving them instructions.
Black Panther’s reasons for not waging war also felt like he wanted to make sure he wasn’t taking lives needlessly. He had the chance to kill M’Baku. He had the chance to kill Klaue. Like his father told him, “You are a good man, with a good heart. And it’s hard for a good man to be a king.”
More importantly, we got to see him cry and be vulnerable, and we don’t get to see Black men cry often in film and TV. They’re usually shown as these super aggressive, flat, non-complex beings, and this film had so many complex men. Even Killmonger showed some daint, as he was raging out. At the heart of him is a little boy whose world got taken away and he yearns for what could have been. More on that later. Even he cried, when in the ancestral realm, facing his father.
Even M’Baku, my favorite vagabond. After he did a lot of grunting, he showed some heart when he earnestly promised T’Challa that he will protect his mother and no harm would come to her, as he tried to save the kingdom from Killmonger. I was like “aawwww look at this adorable fool.”
The Portrayal of Africa as Its Own Superpower
From the get go, what people were really excited to see was Wakanda. Part of the reason Black Panther is appealing is because here’s this superhero, who is from a country that is more technologically advanced than any other. And that country is in Africa. The vibranium in Wakanda made it a powerful place, and this story is one we don’t see often. WHATTT?? Africa is more than tin huts and flies? Well shut my mouth wide open!
As an African myself, the irritation about how the continent is portrayed is always at the surface for me. When I came to the United States at 9, I learned that the place I’m from was considered undeveloped and archaic. It was news to me!
This film showed Wakanda as a place of innovation so beyond others’ understanding that it seemed they defied physics with what they were making happen. The guy who is American couldn’t even fathom it, because if was beyond what he thought was possible. You should see how my head swelled. This is no Zamunda.
I think about how this film can change the way little African kids can see themselves. I remember coming to the US and my accent was different and my name was different and the food I ate was different and it “othered” me immediately. I was asked if I’d ever seen electricity, and if wore clothes, and it annoyed me to no end. But I learned how to talk like my classmates by listening to them and mimicking how they were speaking and by high school I had lost most of my accent.
Watching this film, the thing that hit me is that there’s a little nine year old African girl that’s going to come to the United States, and she won’t feel like she has to change the way she talks because it makes her too different. There’s going to be a little seven year old African boy who can be like “Yea I can tell these kids what my name means because it’s no longer so foreign that they’re going to make fun of it.” That’s powerful. That’s the kind of stuff that can change a generation because for a lot of us that came when we were younger, we spent half our time trying to hide who we were. I’m looking forward to the ripple effect that it has in kids and how it makes them change the way they think the world is possible.
On top of all this, Black Panther has the nerve to be funny. The two funniest people in the film? Princess Shuri and M’Baku.
I LOVE me some Princess Shuri, and how she’s basically the epitome of little sister who lives to annoy her older brother. At the same time, she’s this bawse ass techie you can’t ignore. She had the best lines of the film. From her roasting T’Challa’s new shoes “What are THOSE?!?” to letting the white man know he needs to announce himself better. “Don’t scare me like that, colonizer.” Shuri is the Disney Princess we all need. She’s self-assured, super smart and shady AF.
The other person who had me cracking up was M’Baku, leader of the Jabari men. From the first time we saw him, he was full of shenanigans.
But when I truly fell in love with him was when he interrupted a nice, sappy moment by asking them annoyingly “Are you done?” I HOLLERED! I was like “this is a correct pesin.” And then I realized he was clearly a Nigerian. The Jabari Tribe must be Nigerian. Why? “Are you done?” is classic Naija. Also, they’re rude AF, talk mad shit, and like to face their front in conflict. Plus, they can’t be on time for shit. They are not the ones who will show up as an event starts. M’Baku and his squad gon roll in when you start folding chairs, with their takeaway containers. I know my people when I see us.
Chei! M’Baku is a bombastic goat and I love him so much. When the white man spoke, and he hit him with the “One more word and I will feed you to my children. I’m kidding, we are vegetarians.” I cackled so loudly! That brings me to…
The Fringeness of Whiteness
This film centered Blackness in all ways, and made whiteness the foreigner. There’s Klaue, who is the epitome of white greed. They find out what we have, and they think they’re entitled to it so they steal it without consequence to them. That fuckass stole Vibranium, and then told Killmonger that the “savages” didn’t deserve it. THEY DIDN’T DESERVE WHAT WAS THEIRS? Die painfully and gruesomely. I was mad that he died with just a gunshot wound. I wanted his fingers and toes to be cut off on some Game of Thrones shit.
Agent Ross, the CIA dude who ended up in Wakanda. I love how he was treated like a nuisance the entire time. The only reason he even ended up there was because he did save Nakia’s life. Otherwise, they woulda left him to die. They surely ain’t save no one else in that gun shot. Even so, the Wakandas regarded him as a foreign object in their midst. They barked when he didn’t face his front (shoutout to M’Baku), called him a colonizer (hey Shuri), and locked him in offices so he can stay out their way (I see you, Nakia). Even though he helped prevent the weapons of Wakanda from leaving their borders, he needed strict instructions from Shuri to even do that.
I sho’ll was like “DON’T TRUST WHITEY” the entire time. I kept expecting him to escape to the US and tell all their secrets. He still might in part 2. I still don’t trust him.
It was so refreshing to my spirit to watch this white man be treated like an annoyance. IT IS ABOUT TIME. It was like cold lemonade to my shady soul. This is the treatment WE receive in everything so it’s only right it happened here like this. Even though he shot some planes down, he’s no hero. I think the film is clear about that.
The Killmonger Conversation
This film’s layers were deeper than the Pacific, and a lot of that had to do with the character played by Michael B. Jordan (the B must stand for “bae”). Erik Stevens aka N’Jadaka, son of N’Jobu aka Killmonger. Every story must have an antagonist, and he happens to be one of the best ones I can recall. He was less “villain” and more anti-hero to me.
Killmonger was catalyst for us to have a conversation about the disconnect between Africans and African Americans. He was the tension, in human form, and a symbol for those who have been literally left behind by white supremacy, slavery and all the ills that come from it. Born in Oakland to a Wakandan prince father (N’Jobu), N’Jadaka never knew his ancestral homeland. When his father was then killed by his uncle, King T’Chaka, they left him and didn’t look back to see if he was okay. They left him to fend for himself in a world that didn’t give a shit whether he lived or died. He was of royal blood but lived like a pauper. What good does that blood make then?
So he grew up to be a trained assassin for the US government, becoming an excellent Black Ops who has killed
hoes in many area codes. Kill scars are his trophy, and they litter his body.
THAT BAWDY. Chisos of Nazareth, stepson of Joseph! Anyway.
When he finally makes his way to Wakanda, he is there to avenge the death of his father, and to take the crown, so he can use their unused warpower to help liberate Black people everywhere.
Eric Stevens was cheated. The little boy who had to discover panther claws in his dead daddy’s body was wronged. N’Jadaka, who had to suffer as his kin sat on thrones, was indebted. The Black man who knew he had people who were prospering and protected, as others who looked like him were bound and indentured around the world, was justified. Killmonger’s rage was righteous and noble. The Wakandans, in their duty to protect their country, failed him. And by extension, failed Black people around the globe. What good is it to live in a mansion as your brother is toiling in a hut? When your home rejects you, where do you belong? When T’Challa lost the ritual battle, and ended up in the ancestral realm with his father, he admitted, angrily that N’Jadaka “is a monster of our own making.” Truest facts.
However, I won’t be wearing Team Killmonger tshirts. His motives were on point but his tactics were hard to defend. White violence, is by and by, responsible for Black oppression. That violence isn’t just physical, but also emotional and mental. Can the arming of Black people around the globe free us? Does white supremacy’s work get erased if we just shoot back? What if those arms they send out of Wakanda end up in the wrong hands, once again? Haven’t they already?
More importantly, Killmonger’s rage was all-encompassing. It was “DESTROY EVERYTHING,” even the country of his own people.
Even their natural resources (the heart-shaped herbs). Even their protection. He choked up a woman who was doing HER duty (to mine more herbs) just because she dared to question him. And he was about to kill their biggest intellectual asset, Shuri, without much thought. That blind fury is why I can’t call him a hero. This is why I was TEAM NAKIA. She wanted the same thing, but she decided to do it herself, while petitioning the King.
Yet and still, I looked at Killmonger’s character as an indictment. A necessary one. As someone who is African, I saw that character pointing the finger at people like me. Have we done enough to build a bridge between those of us who know our direct lineage and were born there, and those who got cut off from their lineage over those rocky seas? Have we, in our pride in being who we are, othered people who yearn for their connection to the motherland? Have WE left behind others, not looking back?
He (and Nakia) are reminders that there is no “us and them” if we wanna get free. When one of us is on fire, ALL OF US are on fire, because Blackness, around the world, is constantly under attack from white supremacy, and colonization. Attacking each other only diminishes us. That is why watching Killmonger and T’Challa go at it was not a fight that was going to end well. Either one of them dying is heartbreaking. I didn’t even want Killmonger to die. I hoped he lived to see another day and he was all “Aight lemme not burn the place down. Let’s free Black people together and have Cousin Sundays at the Cliff.” But when he looked at T’Challa, and said “Bury me in the ocean like my ancestors who jumped in. Because they knew that death was better than bondage.” I almost gasped. That line was stunning.
I’m still hoping he isn’t really dead, since this is the comicverse, where people have more lives than cats.
That character was written so well, because he has stayed with me. I keep thinking about him, and his words, and his rage. And I realize that although he was that monster, he played a role in ensuring that Wakanda WAS using its power to help others. On a super simple level, he’s the Malcolm to Nakia’s Martin (you know I had to do it. Marvel is full of this dichotomy, like Magneto and Professor X).
The relationship between Africans and African Americans is something I’ve talked about before, and we need to heal. Wakanda, unlike most of Africa, escaped colonization, which is why it’s the utopia we all want to live in. But most of Africa, unlike Wakanda, has been pilfered of its natural resources by the colonizers, and doesn’t have the capacity to help. So when Africans come to the United States and excel, we gotta know it’s not just from our own doing. We didn’t pull ourselves up by bootstraps. Who do we think made those boots? The African Americans who have been here for 400 years, beaten, chained up and denigrated. Their legacy allows us to then cross the ocean, on our own volition, and do well. We are standing on their shoulders and we must not forget that.
I keep thinking about what T’Challa said when he went to the United Nations. “Fools build barriers, the wise build bridges.” I don’t care where you’re born. This melanin means we’re kinfolk, even if it’s farrrrr down the line. But we’ve let the world tell us who we are. We’ve called each other names. We’ve let the world tell us that we’re on different teams. And we’ve let each other down by not fighting for each other.
For the conversation to be productive and for healing to happen, both sides have to be willing to get uncomfortable, own our roles, apologize for them and make amends to each other. We need to learn each others’ histories, because life ain’t been no crystal stair for either side. THAT is how we can build bridges. We’re victims of White supremacy, and that is what we need to defeat. We need to love up on each other and make white folks uncomfortable because they know how unstoppable we will be when we know we go together.
Whew. We got work to do.
I’m really excited for little Black kids to see this. The kids from Oakland and Chicago and New York get to see this and see themselves reflected back. I’m encouraged that this generation gets to see themselves on a big screen in such a significant way and they get to see what is possible. They might not be Black Panther, but they can be scientists like Shuri. They can be filmmakers, and artists who get paid for their work. They can become somebody who changes the world through whatever power that they have, whatever that power is.
My heart is full by the fact that this film feels like life-affirming in the way that cannot be taken back and it’s long overdue. And the success of Black Panther should mean that more of these stories will be written and produced and distributed on a grand scale. I say SHOULD, because, well. Shit happens and whiteness loves to do dumb shit like ignore logic, all in the name of racism. More of these stories of Blackness, in all its forms, need to be shared to the world and the possibilities are endless. If nothing else Black Panther should show that our stories are profitable, amazing and necessary. We need more of them all the time in all forms. They won’t all look like Black Panther, which is good. They need to be different but they need to exist.
So shoutout to Ryan Coogler and the cast who KILLED IT. And allowed us to come together in joy. I’m officially claiming citizenship of Wakanda.
P.S. I launched a podcast called Rants and Randomness, and in the first episode, I give a 15 minute review of Black Panther. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts and Google Play Music!
Have you bought my NYTimes-bestselling debut book I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do-Better Manual? Haven’t ordered it yet? Now’s your chance. You’ll love it. Amazon. Barnes & Nobles. iBooks. Audible (I narrated the audiobook myself). Kobo. Books-A-Million.
Best movie ever! All of that melanin was poppin. I went with my nephews, 12 and 8, and they refused to get snacks or use the restroom until the movie was over in fear of missing something. The excitement on their faces throughout the movie was priceless.
Best review ever. I’ve always loved your reviews and this one didn’t disappoint. I actually got a bit emotional while reading it. This movie was superb and your breakdown captured the depth of it. I’ve seen it twice so far and I plan to see it again and again.
I’ma need you to not have me over here with sweaty eyeballs writing out all the shit that I’ve been discussing in private convos and pondering about during Wakanda Meditations, madam! All of this. That discussion about Killmonger needs to be had because he is understood by so many in emotion if maybe not in his actions. Thanks for this!
Love love the recap… on point as usual…. Lets start healing 4 real…. shit got real and i loved every minute….
I should have recorded myself while reading this aloud. There were soooooo many ‘Exactly, Luvvie’ that came out of my mouth. Girllllllllllll. From the role of the women, to the vulnerability of the men, humor of the film, the importance of the ‘anti-hero’ (I was looking for a better description and of course you delivered one…thanks), to the deep thought that went into every single detail from the gold in the general’s dress (yoooooooooooo a woman was the general) to the language (I loved that the language was a native language)…everything was just so well done.
I want to make this mandatory reading for every black child of the diaspora in every country where our melanin is present and in every language we speak. You said everything that needed to be said and for that I thank you, Luvvie. You never disappoint.
Saw this movie on Sunday with my husband and our 2 boys. Just in awe of all the blackness, browness and greatness that was displayed on screen. This is what Black History month is all about! I am in my feels right now! Love it!
This is a wonderful review. It was awesome. Thank you. I can’t wait to see it again. It was beautiful. It was glorious.
Your synopsis is PERFECT!!! It was almost as good as watching the film twice????
Girl, you made me cry with this one. Brilliantly written as always. You’re going to make me see it for a third time.
This seriously had me in tears. For you to espress so well what I’m felling is astounding. As a black American that has traveled to Africa (Senegal) many times I can relate. We spend our lives here… never really fitting in… always wondering searching for our heritage. I was fortunate enough to have my BF take me home with him to Senegal and with my short cropped hair and dark skin, everyone assumed I was from there. Once they found out I wasn’t, there were the jokes abt black Americans. We’re ghetto…. lost… tainted even. “Don’t Marry an American girl, they don’t know how to treat you.” We can’t win for losing. Too African for America.. too American for Africa. The divide between Africans and African Americans is so so real. Kill monger is real. 🙁
With that being said, Senegal is like a second home to me now. They have gotten to know me and welcome me with open arms. The relationship is over and I still go back. I cry every time when it’s time to return to the states. Thank you for this.
I loved every bit of this! I’ve also seen it twice and plan to go again. Reading this took me back. I also really appreciate reading your perspective as an African and thoughts on African-Americans vs Africans. We recently did our DNA geneology work and I discovered I’m 54% Nigerian. I’ve been so excited to learn more and teach our children about the country and others, but I’ve also wondered how that comes across to Nigerians (when I’ve brought it up). Reading your thoughts gave me more to think about. I hope we keep building those bridges!
I am Nigerian born and bred, My take is on your being 54% Nigerian is that you will be welcomed if you want to be. Some of the dissent usually happens when an African American projects or is perceived to have a feeling of superiority. If you visit Nigeria with an open mind accepting it will be different culturally and you want to learn about the people and culture you can be sure you will be welcomed with open arms. I am yet to visit an African country where a black person is not seen as a ”sister” or ”brother” and I have been to many . So come visit us in Nigeria
I wasn’t expecting the social commentary but I am so glad it was included and as you said, it was deep. On my ride home, I started to dissect all those key moments where a lesson existed. It was EVERYWHERE. This was one of the greatest movies I have ever seen. Because of all of the #melaninmagic but also because of everything it represents to so many people who needed this like air.
Best review I have ever read on ANY movie. Bravo!
I think this is your best review to date and I’ve been following your blog for years. Thank you for putting in words basically everything I’ve been thinking and feeling since seeing the movie. And yes M’baku is definitely Nigerian. The shade that flows so eloquently from his mouth is the only proof I need ????
I’m reading this stunning and profound review and then make my eyes tear up with this, “So when Africans come to the United States and excel, we gotta know it’s not just from our own doing. We didn’t pull ourselves up by bootstraps. Who do we think made those boots? The African Americans who have been here for 400 years, beaten, chained up and denigrated. Their legacy allows us to then cross the ocean, on our own volition, and do well. We are standing on their shoulders and we must not forget that.”
As an African-American this acknowledgement of our struggle and the legacy of the loss of our connection to the continent is so meaningful. Thank you.
I heard your podcast on the drive home and this is like the long form of it. very nice. great recap, review.
I play the villain in a play we are putting on for our local junior college, titled “Majigeen.” Google it, please. I am not an aggressive man by nature, but I can get witcha if need be. But, I digress. I have been struck by the power of Michael B. Jordan’s performance, and I want to have that sort of aura each time I enter a scene. Thank you for your review.
You know you are my spirit writer!!!! I could nevet say it any better. #FOREVERWAKANDA
You know you are my spirit writer!!!! I could never say it any better. #FOREVERWAKANDA
Luvvie, you are a blessing. This review is everything.
‘I don’t care where you’re born. This melanin means we’re kinfolk, even if it’s farrrrr down the line. But we’ve let the world tell us who we are. We’ve called each other names. We’ve let the world tell us that we’re on different teams. And we’ve let each other down by not fighting for each other.’
This has so emotional right now. Thank you.
Every. word. in. this. review, Luvvie! Having spent many hours musing about ways in which the diaspora can connect, how Africa can reconnect to it’s rich history, your words feel like a balm, a fire. Healing and building bridges is where it’s AT!! & yes, this movie is a powerful, beautiful tool towards that. Stay well!
This madam… you have spoken the mind of the oracle plus the ancestors and the universe!
Nothing else to add to this! May your days be long, your happiness be plentiful, your laughters be heartfelt and your wishes truer than you expect!
Cheers to more creative writings and truth laced reviews of excellent art!
Also in the Diasporic Diversity, Sydelle Noel (of the Dora Milaje) from Grenada.
Gbam! Kpakam! or in English NAILED IT.
I was waiting for this like a kid on Christmas morning. Once again, you put my feelings into words. While reading this blog, I had to stop 3 times and wipe my eye because the tears were obstructing my view. I’ve only seen the movie once and have every intention on seeing it again and even buying it when it comes out. This entire article peeled away every single layer I thought of and revealed layers I didn’t even notice were there. THANK YOU Luvvie. When I watch Black Panther a second and twenty second time, I’m sure I’ll find myself right back here rereading this. It was very well written and had so much truth to it that it left me speechless. It forced me to turn a mirror on myself and rethink what’s been programmed into us (African Americans, myself included) about how Africans are so very different from us and we won’t get along. I refused to believe that anymore. We need to get our collective shit together and realize that we are one. All of us.
This review is so ON POINT. I cried several times while reading it. Thank you Luvvie.
This was the best review ever!!!! I agree with EVERY.SINGLE.THING. I really wanted Killmonger and Black Panther to be friends and be able to live together in Wakanda. I hope Killmonger comes back in part 2.
Origin story knowing nerd here, I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned, but in the comics Killmonger is resurrected. Idk if they’ll use that in a sequel or anything though.
This review is EVERYTHNG!!!!!!
How did you hit every nail on the head with this review?!!!
My concern: Can W’Kabi and Okoye be together after this? Im hoping that in five years, theyll be laughing at a dinner party with TChala and Nakia about that one time Wkabi staged a coup?
“So when Africans come to the United States and excel, we gotta know it’s not just from our own doing. We didn’t pull ourselves up by bootstraps. Who do we think made those boots? The African Americans who have been here for 400 years, beaten, chained up and denigrated. Their legacy allows us to then cross the ocean, on our own volition, and do well. We are standing on their shoulders and we must not forget that.”
I always love reading your perspective and you honest insights.
Thank you so much for this review. You perfectly summarized and analyzed everything that has made this film something that I’m still thinking about and emotionally processing days later.
And your comments about the “us vs. them” mentality between Africans and African-Americans hit especially close to home for me. When I was a college student in the ’80s, I shared an apartment with 4 other girls…1 fellow Af-Am, 1 Latino, 1 white, and a native of Ghana (who we’ll call Sarah). For the entire year we lived together Sarah was nothing but friendly and open to the white and Latino roommates, but always treated me and the other Black roommate like something she scraped off the bottom of her shoe. She always made comments about how lazy American Blacks were, and how people back home were more ambitious, smarter, etc.
Sad to say that interaction made me look at all Africans in a negative light for a long time after that. I was resentful of the nerve of them coming over here and being judgmental without knowing our experience and what we had to endure just to survive before we could even think about thriving.
It was only after growing up a little bit and sharing my life with Africans who were nothing like Sarah that I realized that in a way I was no better than her in the bias I carried.
So I agree 100% with you that this is a conversation that needs to be had. It will be uncomfortable at times because there is a lot of baggage to unpack. But it would only serve to make us all stronger in the end.
Awesome review! Love it!
Luvvie – This brought me to tears on so many levels. Knowing that our African ancestors were forced to give up claim to their tribes and languages, in order to remain subservient and actually to be able to talk to each other after they were all mixed up in trade. Your words reminded me how my soul thirsts to know more about my ancestry of Beninese. There are parts of me that believe that I would have been a warrior, as the army depicted was created based of the women’s army of Benin. I am planning a trip to Benin, my first, in 2019. I plan to learn a great deal in my visit. Thank you for your eloquence in reminding us that we the “seemingly” forgotten ones are still whole, or at least on our way. #WakandaForever
Man your Killmonger breakdown..(i’m not crying, its allergies). Yes yes and YESSSSSSSS. We the stolen have toiled in this new place for centuries, and orphaned from our lineage. I hope this is a catalyst on some level to forging a connection. Beyond that the movie was just dope!
This is such a thought provoking well written article. You made me love the movie even more
I found it disturbing that the writers reduced Kilmonger to being a Thug, despite being a graduate of MIT, and would at least, have the mental capacity to know that having righteous anger doesn’t mean you have to abandon ‘Common Sense’!!!
I think the concept of Killmonger being a thug was perfect because it is the stereotype that many people have about African American men and so he was supposed to be the worst of the worst but underneath all of that there is this complex, aggressive, yet very wounded individual that kind of turns that stereotype upside down, and he, therefore became this very relatable character that we can have empathy for. I thought Coogler’s decision to cast him as the “thug” was genius. Also, those “thugs” who are hanging out on the corner seemingly up to no good are our cousins, our uncles, our brothers, etc. They are human beings too and we all have a story.
They must have sprinkled some of that heart shaped herb in all the shea butter in Wakanda.
Luvvie, you go school and you sabi book! So on point!
[…] so many layers to this amazing movie and my focus has been on the antagonist and protagonist but Awesomely Luvvie unpacks so much more of what makes Black Panther worth watching again and […]
Although I chose not to read your entire review, as I plan to see the movie this coming weekend and prefer to avoid spoilers and enjoy the authenticity of film from the perspective of those that are experts in the Super Hero genre or narrative. That being said I read a good portion of your review and to me it appears that while I support the celebration of diversity represented in film or any form of the creative arts. I find it so hypocritical that writers like yourself fell the need to fuel segregation by making the movie a “Black Thing”, when movement away from segregation and towards unity reaquires the opposite. Were there no people whose skin color is different from ours involved in this movie? Is Marvel Studios wholly owned and operated by people whose skin color is only black? I don’t believe so. In fact I believe I read that there is one producer whose skin is black working at Marvel Studios. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t on the recommendation of this guy alone that got Director Ryan Coogler to the table to pitch and close the deal with Marvel Studio President Kevin Feige. I believe it was more likely the talent, business tenacity, communication/sales skills, commitment to creativity and passion for film making that sold Feige on the movie not Cooglers’ skin color.What’s more, Coogler recommended to Marvel the Production Designer he wanted to have work on the film (obviously an enormous role with immense implications for the film and the company as a whole) who did not have much experience with a film of this magnitude. Marvel was not convinced Hannah Beachler was the right person based on her current experience. However once she delivered her own pitch for the role she won the job. Again not because her skin color is black. Because she had the talent, tenacity, skills, knowledge and expertise and was able to convey and share this with the Marvel team in a convincing way to acquire the role. The Cinematographer chosen for this role on the film (also a huge role in film making) does not have black skin and nor do many others who played a vital role in bringing this movie to theaters around the world.
I am a believer in every way of the benefits of diversity: diversity of intelligence, ability, creativity and experiences. This is what shapes our communities and our world after all. The essence of this movie speaks to this positive sentiment, however, many people are ,making the focus of this movie more about skin color to the detriment of ability, skill and commitment. These are all actors, producers, filmmakers, artists, stylists who are not simply ‘interested’ in what they do. They are actually committed to what they do. The skin color that they were born of does not determine this. What we pursue, learn, accept, challenge, experience, evaluate and become each day determines this. Your “F-You….thinks otherwise” comment off the top of your review is offensive to all of us (from many different and diverse races btw) who have ALWAYS known and will continue to know that ANYONE can do, be or whatever it is they are wanting regardless of the color of their skin if you have what you need on the inside to make it happen. My issue with your perspective about Black Panther is that your opening statements cast a negative and regressive light on the Super Hero movie genre. The narrative in every super hero movie (be it Marvel or DC) is always the same message: through unity and working together we can end forms of evil/wrong/injustice in the world. The Bad Guys come in all skin colors and so do the Good Guys. Inherent in this Marvel movie is the same message delivered in many other Marvel and DC movies. I understand that it is pivitol as the art form it represents. And in many ways this film is greater than art because we live our lives in it. ALL of us, not just those whose skin is black. My son has been a fan of the Black Panther super hero for as long as he’s been a fan of Bat Man and Iron Man. Because he was introduced to the genre based on his interest in the genre not his skin color. Obviously we all have our favorite super heros for the way they look, but also for what they stand for, their style and super ability (whatever it may be). Each of these movies have spoken to a particular demographic – perhaps louder for those who felt they did not have a voice on this “Super Hero stage”, however I don’t believe the intent of this movie was to create dialogue that promotes exclusion and casual racism against others whose skin is not black. Marvel’s movies are inherently about strength, love, unity and good prevailing over evil. These characteristics and values have no color. Your review of the beauty and confidence demonstrated through costume, lighting, posturing ect are wonderfully communicated were first seen through the eyes of . Cinematographer Rachel Morrison, a committed and talented artist whose skin color is not black.
Human communities depend upon a diversity of talent, not a singular conception of ability. And at the heart of the challenge is to reconstitute our sense of ability and of intelligence. In my word and in the world of the children I am raising, this is the sentiment I am teaching and sharing not “F-You…..thinks otherwise”.
Got the gist of this complaint very quickly. It’s a complaint, not an observation, about on something you haven’t seen, and immediately you want a different movie. Try Thor, Avengers, or any other movie in the MCU. We are here for this one.
You have decided to create a negative out of a positive; this is not about diversity. The pity of it is this was created in 1966. That’s right, that long ago there was created a place where black people were not hoes and hustlers, where intelligence was celebrated, both the men and women were strong and the citizenry was far above average.
Why is it when black people are great, there are always those among us who decide we must diversify to be great? Did you say that about any other franchise in the MCU? Why is it WE always have to include everybody damn else? When you go to Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Cuba, Little Saigon or Little Italy do you bemoan the lack of diversity? Or do you appreciate what they do without demanding inclusion.
How did I know someone would take the finest of silks and yammer about the lack of polyester in the fabric. Imma need you to find a stadium and take every last damn seat. And don’t leave until you’ve warmed all of them.
“How did I know someone would take the finest of silks and yammer about the lack of polyester in the fabric.” … YES!!!! Her comments could have held a little more water had she made them AFTER watching the movie. But she didn’t even watch it yet and has so much to say. Why can’t we, as black people, just be allowed to be great and proud without someone telling us that the fact that the movie even made it to the big screen is enough? That our celebration after the movie’s release (for years to come, mind you) needs to be brought down to a 1? FOH!
Bye Felecia! #GirlBye And don’t come back… #InWakanda BS like this does not exist!
And I thought M’baku was Naija for sure. Naija pipu are those that will move to Wakanda, want to take over because “impossible is nothing”, get comfy even when the takeover is averted, face front, but will do the necessary when the necessary occurs. He had the Naija accent too so I figured he was an immigrant in Wakanda.
i’m still verklempt about this movie. i’ll be back.
That part where Lupita peaked around the end of the truck at the beginning! Her skin, the lighting. It took my breath cause I knew they put so much thought and effort into making the lighting just right to show her glow. For a scene that was less than a second.
Black Panther left an imprint on my soul after seeing it. My spirit was stirred after reading this review. You pointedly captured in word and voice, all of the complexities of emotions, messages and affirmations this movie gave to so many. Thank you.
I had no intentions of seeing this movie because when I hear “superhero” I think about Batman and all of that. I’m not into that but I must say, out of the hundreds of commentarys I’ve read, YOURS IS HANDS DOWN THE BEST!!! The ending of your comments made me tear up BECAUSE we as AA don’t feel like we “belong”, not here nor in the Motherland. I’m so happy I’ve researched my DNA and lineage for years because I wanted to BELONG and teach my grandchildren about their heritage. I’m Nigerian, Ghana and Benin/Togo…. in that order! My grandchildren are that as well as Xhosa/Zulu/Madagascar on their father’s side!! What a rich heritage!!! I WILL BE GOING TO SEE THIS MOVIE AND I’M TAKING MY 3 grandsons, thanks to you Luvvie. It’s ONE LOVE for our people around the world, ONE LOVE!!! You hit the ball out of the park on this one my skinfolk/kinfolk!! And by the way, I’ll be 60 in April, Angela Basset will be 60 in August! Black has NEVER cracked!!
[…] record-setting phenomenon spreads. (The best overall review I’ve read is from Awesomely Luvvie, here, and I loved this insightful piece on Killmonger from Nourisha Wells; check those out first.) I am […]
Got me out in these streets shedding thug tears. This review is EVERYTHING.
ROTF CTFU LMAO. You already know by now if you are a regular lol!
Everybody else basically said what I wanted to say so I’ll just add these two cents: twenty-something year old me sat in that theatre (it finally came to Barbados) and said ‘I want to be a Dora Milaje when I grow up, Kilmonger made my heart ache and I just wanted him, Shuri, and T’Challa to be friends and have excursions, that last little speech about burying him in the ocean? You could have heard a pin drop in the theatre; that was haunting, and finally YASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS to all that strong womenness going around.
The sheer power of the women in that film and how much they were loved and respected got me. When that dude bowed to his love I about threw my popcorn, the women in the theatre erupted in applause; it was beautiful.
Love this review! One thing that I loved about the use of women in this film was the fact that it was not about White female fragility. In this film, there were multiple times when I thought that the central women characters would die. Then I realized – I am so used to White women being saved in films and Black men and women dying that I expect it (Think “King Kong,” “Jurassic Park,” etc). The same narrative is reflected in real life. (Black men are rapist much?) I just found it refreshing that Black women were not treated as disposable AND they did not need necessarily to be saved by men all the time.
Black Panther was FANTASTIC! It made me laugh????, cry????, think????, and feel????. I felt hopeful & inspired. My ❤️heart & ????mind are still feeling & thinking. I am also grateful that I didn’t experience any disrespect as I went & sat alone (1st time) with groups of white males to my ←left, →right, and ↑front center. The ????????movie was well enjoyed by all in that theatre tonight! Black ppl bring your ass out & support with your purchasing power????????????????. Don’t be a taker by bypassing the movies & watching it on bootleg. Time to put your money???? where your mouth???? is. Btw, the iMax exp was DOPE! #BlackPanther #WHOA #WOE (Wakanda Over Everything) #BlackPantherMovie
P.S. I saw the movie 3x. 1st alone at the advance pre-screening. 2nd with 2 gfs. Tickets already bought for today with my 13th & 10yryr old god-daughters.
Luvvie I ❤️ YOU & your SUPER ability to process & articulate what so many of us are feeling & thinking in such a perfect way! Thank you for giving your perspective as an African on Africans & African Americans (Black Americans is my choice). I’ve had about 4 Africans that I consider friends. (And many that were like most ppl in my life acquaintances.) I’ve been to their home & broke bread, and they to mine. 1 I dated and almost married, we parted friends. 2 were co-workers. 1 I met at college, we shared the same class & career major. I was her labor coach, threw her baby shower & cut her baby’s umbilical cord at birth.
But I wonder if they ever really considered me a friend in the real sense of the word, minus my ex who I almost married.
The newest friend of 10+ yrs is half my age. The one I was a labor coach for. She shared with me how Africans have invitation-only parties with pretty much zero or 1 Black American in attendance. Even though half of the ppl at the party are married to Black Americans, they don’t bring their spouses. She said she was going to invite me to one. She’s also expressed/ranted on FB how she wished Black Americans would stop saying that their origin is Africa, bcuz they have never been to Africa, and can’t name the country/region that they’re so-called from. I was surprised, but chalked it up to her age, as she’s in her early 20’s & I’ve heard Black Americans say that very same thing but I chalk their reasoning up to an un-woke conditioned slave mind. She has yet to invite me to one of these African parties lol. So that brings me back to the thought of, did/do they really see me as a friend?
Side Bar: I always wanted to & plan to get an African Ancestry DNA test done. Especially since I plan to visit Africa this year for my milestone bday. I have a military gf who married an African & lives there. So I will be able to get a real life experience vs a touristy hotel resort one.
All in all black panther pleased audience with it’s fantastic plot.
[…] From Luvvie Ajayi of Awesomely Luvvie My Black Panther Review […]
It is really fantastic movie ever , I am really excited to watch , all the characters do well , Many thanks for sharing this review.
Damn, you’re one ignorant, white hating cunt aren’t you? The movie was mediocre and the acting was garbage. People speaking different languages and dialects because most black people can’t act for shit. Then the fact the whole premise is hiding behind the fact that none of that shit would’ve happened if his daddy didn’t kill his brother and keep his kid in LA. But beside that, you have some truths. Blacks killing black people and blaming white people for it..yep, happens irl. Black people always gotta point the finger, but the main thing. A white person, who was being disrespected through most of the fucking movie, still saved your black asses…just a bunch of cunts, that’s what the movie proves. Black people are fucking garbage.
Bob, take your pasty, butt hurt, whiny, scrawny, irrelevant, flat arsed, thin lipped, melanin deficient self to a hockey match. Have fun. Bye.
If I didn’t have to follow ????”Bob”…I coulda just left my emoji comment sans preface…oh well here’s my comment on your thoughtful review:
(SEE how it coulda been misconstrued after Bob’s sentiments?)
[…] So I have read loads of reviews on the amazing #BlackPanther and @Luvvie takes the prize!!!! Thank you sis…..beautiful https://awesomeluvvie.wpengine.com/2018/02/black-panther-movie-review.html … […]
Every. Word. Ma’am! Your Killmonger breakdown, especially. I finally got to watch it last night and it’s all I can think about today. All the questions it raised, all the issues it covered explicitly and implicitly. Just a top-notch film, start to finish. I plan to watch it again as soon as I can get tickets. It stays sold out here in Jamaica.
Marvelous review to read. White guy here, who thoroughly enjoyed this movie. And what I find amazing and inspiring is that an entire group of people get to relate to this film on a deeper and more meaningful level which I can appreciate but probably not ever fully comprehend. I hope this is a gateway to more entertainment that lets everybody be a part of the conversation and see themselves represented, because the same old voices get kind of dull after a while.
@Shan: I also want to be General Okoye when I grow up, because holy hell she kicks every variety of ass.
[…] lose my MIND over Black Panther (read my review). A film about a superhero whose costume is fueled by the forces that have been sent to destroy it […]
[…] lose my MIND over Black Panther (read my review). A film about a superhero whose costume is fueled by the forces that have been sent to destroy it […]
[…] Black Panther Review I have […]
I’m not normally lost for words, but struggled to adequately describe how this glorious film made me think and feel after seeing it.
No matter, Luvvie, you said it all, and as ever, oh, so very well.
I’m looking forward to seeing this one again, and again, and again.
This review made me cry. There is a divide between Africans and African Americans partly because Africans come to the US, gain additional success and look down on African Americans. So thank you for acknowledging the path that African Americans paved for our brothers and sisters of the diaspora.
And this paragraph was EVERYTHING: Have we done enough to build a bridge between those of us who know our direct lineage and were born there, and those who got cut off from their lineage over those rocky seas? Have we, in our pride in being who we are, othered people who yearn for their connection to the motherland? Have WE left behind others, not looking back?
African Americans long for acknowledgment and acceptance from true Africans and true connection to the Motherland. I recently did my AncestryDNA test. And while I may be 18% Irish I’m also 18% Benin/Togo. And while I’m 15% Europe West I’m also 17% Africa Southeastern Bantu. The only part of Africa not in my DNA is North African. All that to say I want to be loved and accepted for all parts of me but growing up post slavery in the US, the rejection by my skinfolk hurt more than the rejection of my colonizers.
All of what you said. Every word. I cried too. I am still…
All of what you said. Every word. I cried too. I am still…
Thank you Luvvie. I really appreciate this review. I saw Black Panther with my Jamaican friend at the Peckham Plex cinema in London, England. (I’m Ghanaian British and he’s Jamaican Jamaican). We were so excited to be part of a long queue and drink in the expectant air. Your review has showed me that I missed so much. Yes, I noticed the Kente and the gorgeous melanin. I enjoyed the film as a black science fiction film. I didn’t really follow the story on such a deep level.
I missed so much.
It was exciting to see black and British people up there in the mix, Letetia and Daniel Kaluuya did us proud. And we grinned like two proud parents!!
My friend and I always discuss “black issues” and he often gets frustrated with me when we disagree on something ( a lot of topics!!) He says “you have your legacy, your heritage and your language in tact so you don’t get it! I have always taken my Ghanaian heritage for granted. It’s true. I never really understood until reading this brilliant article. Killmonger’s character opened the door to considering an alternative perspective. I think I need to watch the film again because apparently I missed so much. A whole bunch of things!!
Anyway, your article is brilliant. You rock Luvvie Ajayi.
Amazing article Luvvie- and addressing the hard truths- so much respect for the introspection… As a first generation west indian living in North America, the nuances of being part of the African diaspora are never written about in a way that shines light on all of us. And for this movie (and your article) I am grateful. I’ve never seen a dramatization of what it feels like to be black, and to know you’re African, but to feel the divide that we have due to the legacy of centuries of oppression. I’m lucky that culturally, we (west indians and the like) adopted the mantra of “I may not know exactly where, so I’m gonna love all of Africa”, but it shook me to the core to see one of my biggest insecurities on screen, and to hear questions I’ve wondered about, voiced out loud. And then to read your response… I am all in my feelings rn!
[…] written about this phenomenal film. I will let the professional writers do all the heavy lifting here, here, or here. And if you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and run to the theatre to […]
Thank you so much for this review. I never cried so much recently due to your description of Africans and African Americans healing our divide. All the things you so eloquently spoke about, I have felt for some time but haven’t been able to say. As an AA I thank you.
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