I recently watched Black Panther in theatres, as I’m sure many of you also have, given the hype surrounding it, so here goes my thoughts on the film.
Firstly, I must say I found it overall to be a good experience. To begin, I thought the characters were all really interesting in their own right. I thought Okoye, Nakia and Shuri, played by Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o and Letitia Wright respectively, were amazing as the supporting cast – in fact, they almost felt like co-leads with their unique personalities and significant parts to play in the storyline. The spear-wielding Okoye gave me hands down the most badass fight sequences of the movie. I thought the establishing shot of her, in a meditative position made of almost perfect symmetry, is testament to her unmovable loyalty to Wakanda, and a reflection of those values. Nakia holds her own alongside T’Challa as his romantic interest. The establishing sequence, where she stops T’challa from killing a soldier who’s ‘just a boy’ immediately reveals her very innate humanity, which permeates throughout the film. Perhaps Letitia Wright is the biggest breakout here for me though – Shuri offered some of the film’s lightest and most humorous moments with her witty and playful nature. Also, as a side note, I thought her sense of style in the movie was amazing! I felt it really fuelled her image as a modern, in-with-the-times sort of girl who’s taking on the world one vibranium-powered invention at a time.
As for the titular character himself, I thought he was well-developed and powerfully played. Interesting to me are the tensions he grappled with regarding the distinctions between a good and great leader; it seems he realises towards the end that being a good leader overreached that of being a great leader. As his father says near the start (which I can’t quote word for word because I can’t remember it fully haha), it is hard for a good man to be king. Killmonger may have made a great leader with his thirst for justice and conquest, but it is T’challa’s goodness that will drive Wakanda in the correct direction; as we see towards the end, he initiates outreach programmes rather than employing aggressive methods of expansion. This goodness prevails of course, and the final scene of Killmonger and T’challa together against the Wakandian sunset is definitely defining; by bringing Killmonger to overlook Wakanda, literally, instead of slaying him on the spot, as Killmonger had unsuccessfully done earlier, the two leaders behold the beauty of Wakanda, especially Killmonger, who perhaps even accepts the notion that it was a beauty worth keeping and not destroying through conquest. It is all too late however, as Killmonger decides to end his life on his own accord, a final testament to how despite everything, he did not belong.
Onto the more technical aspects of the film, I thought the visuals were absolutely stunning. The highlights for me were the establishing shots of the Jabari kingdom and of course the extended action sequence in Busan, which offered non-stop thrills and laughs. The score was almost amazing; I thought it had a very nice blend of tribal and modern hip-hop & techno music, which is in line with one of the film’s main themes; which is the clash of old vs new, traditional vs modern, and how Wakanda needed to strike a balance between both. While M’Baku criticised Shuri’s disrespect for tradition, Nakia disagreed with Okoye’s traditional mindset of unmovable loyalty to the throne. The Elders do not see reason to involve themselves in worldly matters, while W’Kabi expresses a need to do so before the rest of the world catches up. As visible, the tensions are very blurred and grey, and I think it is solved to some extent at the close of the film, where T’challa initiates his outreach program, straying from the traditional way of keeping to themselves, while not going the way of modern times, which is established to be wrought with violence.
I guess those are some of the more prominent thoughts that came to my mind after the film… overall, I thought it was a splendid film! 🙂