I am going to do my best to not give any spoilers.
…but I make no promises.
Now that that’s out of the way…
THIS MOVIE IS AWESOME! That is at least the consensus in the Simmons household. This movie was so good, y’all, I’m about to start bow staff training, learn African dance, take a science and technology course, learn my true heritage on AfricanAncestry.com, and book my flight to Tanzania!
Well… maybe not ALL that, but you get the idea.
Raising two young kings (that’s what this movie has done to me, y’all), they love action and superheroes, so they may think it’s an awesome movie for reasons other than my own. Personally, I can’t speak from a comic book standpoint as to whether or not Hollywood did justice to the comics because that’s not my thing. What I can say is that this movie is more than just action and superheroes. For a lot of people of color, it’s so much more than just a movie.
There have been thousands of pictures posted on social media of black people going to the movies in every kind of African garb, from Coming to America renditions to modern day dresses and dashikis, and I got to see some first hand. I even wore my headwrap and sat next to a beautiful couple decked out in matching dashiki shirt and kente dress! People thought it was amusing and made all sorts of mockery at what simply amounted to a level of pride not everyone could understand. Regardless of who made, produced, backed, or profited from the film’s making, to go to the theatre and see on the big screen a cast of 98% African and African-American faces portrayed as royalty is a thing of pride and beauty that cannot be understood unless the majority of the media that you have seen portrays that same skin color and ethnicity as thugs and drug dealers and murderers and convicts. This movie – for me – reminds where we come from. Not a fictitious island, but a land and a people of strength and beauty and intelligence and culture and pride and unity not often seen in today’s society.
Something else not often seen (and encouraged) in today’s society is the strength of the woman. As a black woman I am well aware and have even experienced the Superwoman Syndrome, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about women in business and technology and as soldiers – warriors protecting their king at all costs – and being not only encouraged to do so but revered when they do. I know that the man is looked at as the provider and the protector, but I also know (what little I do know about it) that in the game of chess, the queen protects the king. Whether men know it or realize it or not, we are always protecting them, and to see the Dora Milaje – an army of all female warriors – protecting their king is something I truly respect. There is a scene (sorry!) in which T’Challa and Agent Ross are talking, and Ross playfully (and a little too comfortably) hits T’Challa. Okoye about lost her whole mind and threatened to impale the man if he touched T’Challa again. That is, in fact, my favorite part of the movie. Ladies, I know we were raised that the woman should do this or that and the man is responsible for XYZ, but when you love and respect your king, you go to war with and for him; gender roles be damned.
Wakanda is not a real place in Africa, and although the movie was not shot solely in Africa, the beauty of the continent and the traditions of the African culture resonates within the film. From the vast waterfalls to the ritual challenges and ways of life, the movie makes you – at the very least – want to move to Wakanda! It also makes you want to take every technology class you can get your hands on (even if you’re like me and don’t care much for science) just to learn how things work and what you can make those things do with the proper components and understanding and knowledge. Yes, you can be a natural at something, but when properly intrigued, you can also educate yourself and go further than even you believe. The Wakandans not only believe that, you can see how they encourage it. General Okoye is the leader of the Dora Milaje. King T’Challa’s sister, Shuri, runs her own lab that is in charge of the country’s technology. His love, Nakiya, works for the freaking CIA and refuses to marry him and become queen because her calling is to help people and she could not sit comfortably on a throne knowing that there are people in the world in need of help and could benefit from Wakanda’s resources.
Even though the movie is about the Black Panther, the women – as is true for most cultures – are the true backbone. Too many times women are expected to give up their dreams to support the man’s or to get married or to have children and create a legacy, leaving out the fact that legacies are created in more than one way and at more than one time in life.
I have boys and while this movie made me proud for them to see royalty in our people, it also reminded me of the importance of encouraging our young women and promoting balance between the genders. Young kings and queens need to know that there is no right or wrong in a dream. If the Lord placed a desire in your heart, He will provide what you need to achieve it.
If you think this movie is just a movie, you’re wrong. If you think this movie is only for comic book buffs or superhero lovers or black people or kids, you’re wrong. This movie is for everyone who has a dream or a plan and needs to be reminded that it’s never too late to make a change and make things better, for yourself and your people. This movie is what could be the beginning of a movement, if only we have the heart to see it.