On the 15th, Marvel’s Black Panther premiered in movie theaters around the country. As a Black Nerd, Marvel movies excite me anyway. As a Black Woman, it was extra exciting to see a Black superhero, who kicked ass in the Captain America: Civil War film. I can literally remember watching the preview to the movie in a predominately white movie theater and yelling out with excitement, “YES! FINALLY A BLACK MOVIE!” I don’t have to tell you the joy I felt as I walked out of that theater excited about this past weekend. With all the excitement that built up for almost two years, I was astonished by all the BLACK GIRL MAGIC in the film.
This film is about an African man, but who is he without the women around him? Who is he without his smart, witty, and funny sister? Who is he without his humble and wise stepmother? Who is he without the women who swore an oath to protect the throne of Wakanda no matter who was King? Who would he be without the love of his life being present at every major moment of his life in the film? Those women are overlooked and I’m about to bring some attention to the things that inspired me, as a Black woman, watching this film for the first time.
Chadwick Boseman and Michael Bae Jordan (Obsessed with both) are amazing actors, but let’s be real here. This film had actresses that were far better and interesting to watch than these chocolate brothers. Actress Danai Gurira was a showstopper to me. She was a warrior and embodied the true definition of a hero. The way she commanded attention in the final fight scene and brought her man to his knees, was all I needed in this film. I’m not saying that her sex appeal brought him down but she stood for what was right and when her man was wrong she let him know and she was willing to die for what she believed in. That action, that representation of a strong female persona, brought the biggest smile to my face. I was more excited at that one scene than during the chest revealing of Michal Bae Jordan.
That leads me to the next thing, spy and liberator, Nakia portrayed by the chocolate goddess Lupita Nyong’o, also the love interest of King T’Challa. Nakia is a woman doing what she loves and it brings her the most joy living the life she lives. She’s majority of the women I know. She’s independent and afraid to lose that independence because the man she loves is supposed to be the ruler of Wakanda. Nakia is willing to lose love in order to keep her independence. That’s a reality for a lot of women of color in America and in other parts of the world. Despite her unwillingness to be a kempt and kept woman, when T’Challa needed her most she was willing to risk her life to save his throne and the Wakandan legacy from Killmonger. She fought by T’Challa’s side against those who became loyal to the new King. She was willing to defy the new king to preserve the memory of Wakanda and man she loved. So many modern day women, stand by their men and fight for them every day even when he’s unaware of her contributions and often overlooked for the things she contributes to his overall success. This is what could have happened to Nakia if I hadn’t watched the film and wrote this essay. In the end, T’Challa realized he couldn’t live without her and he knew she wouldn’t want to give up her independence so he compromised and they both got what they wanted. Nakia girl I see you!
Princess Shuri, portrayed by actress Letitia Wright, is literally the protector of Wakanda. Just check this out. She learned to harness the power of Vibranium and turn it into technologies that are unimaginable to the outside world. She designed the technology that protected T’Challa and she also showed a little badassery in this film herself when she geared up to fight with her brother. Shuri also “fixed broken white men” and kept it real with the “colonizer.” Her humor was priceless and the familial relationship she and T’Challa had was one that is familiar to me with me and my younger brother. She didn’t care about his title, he was not exempt from the jokes and pranks. I don’t care if my brother is married with a beautiful wife and daughter. He’ll always catch it when I’m around. Shuri certainly kept T’Challa grounded and she also could be considered his sidekick. Family is certainly not overlooked in this film.
Although this film is full of Black Girl Magic, it’s hard to overlook the fact that Chadwick and Bae, I mean Michael Bae Jordan, were the main characters. The difference between the two men is what happens when you have a tribe behind you and when you are facing the world alone trying to get back to the one place you never knew you needed. Erik Killmonger is probably the most revolutionary character in this film, giving all that Black knowledge to these people choosing to ignore the plight of African nations and African descendants around the world. In the film, T’Challa confronts his deceased father and asks why he left Erik behind? He tells his father he was wrong for making that decision. It’s a message to all the Black fathers out there. Do not leave your boys behind bring them with you. Do not leave your daughters behind either because your presence is just as crucial to them as well. You have a responsibility to your children and your relatives to be the best representation of parents you can be. You may not be the best parent but some effort at parenting is better than not parenting at all or trying to parent too late.
I’ll end this by saying, Black Panther was definitely for the People. It brought out more Black people than Barack in 2007, okay! It gives us a sense of unity and finally some positive representation with complex ideas and symbolism. Black women are strong, loving, caring, warriors, stylish (couldn’t deny that African garb was fye), and a tribe not to be tested. #WakandaForever