CogNegro's Take: School House Rock has been lying to me this whole time folks! Three is indeed not the magic number. That my friends would be the number four. In this instance, four represents the number of attempts it took for me to finally score a ticket to the highly anticipated Black Panther. I have never experienced such trouble purchasing admittance into a movie, unless you count that one time in Time Square back in the seventies...well maybe it is best we don't bring that up here! It goes without saying why such a fever pitch has been built for the release of Marvel Studios' latest film. For years, the populace has been fed heroes of color who have either been comedic spoofs (Meteor Man, Blank Man), born out of blaxploatation and damaging stereotypes (Superfly, Shaft) or embedded with themes of mysticism or the occult (Spawn, Blade). Such characters have lead to limited appeal to either a niche or segmented audience. But how would Black Panther fair in the mainstream? Will the myopic opinions of a divided nation affect its success? Would international audience flock being that companies have omitted black characters in its advertising scheme in the past? Would whitewashing take place in order to appeal to a wider demographic? Would I still be able to find a t-shirt to wear to its premiere?
Well, I am glad to say that Black Panther was an unprecedented viewing experience. I was enthralled, mystified, and ultimately moved with pride! Director Ryan Coogler manages to create a world of vivid futuristic Afrocentrism while maintaining accurate depictions of the Motherland's cultural offerings. The costume designs and settings "pop" with lush textures and traditions are treated with reverence as opposed to being lampooned or caricatured. It truly felt authentic and without an ounce of outsider fetishism! The action scenes are also above par, offering some dazzling sequences, albeit a bit too reliant on CGI at times. Still, it doesn't take much away from the adrenaline induced events!
Thematically, the film is rich with context! Clashing ideologies from multiple fronts creates a layered dynamic between three dimensional characters. Such interplay allows the film to delve into more complex territories of the human condition, especially ones that affect individuals of color, that most comic movies would either ignore or approach with a snark that Marvel has recently leaned on to a some what grating degree!
One of the most noteworthy aspects of the film is the potential to affect the cinematic landscape. It has long been argued that movies with black leads or central casts can not be successful, despite recent entries like Hidden Figures and Girl's Trip proving the contrary. This belief has lead to many stories not receiving proper financial backing or even the green light to be created. Well as of the writing of this review, Black Panther is heading toward a $193 million dollar three day haul. Only four other movies have grossed more than that amount during their opening weekends. What does this mean? Well, it shatters the myths that have prevented such films from being created and opens the doors for more stories, that center around heroes of color, to be released!
Of course, I would be remiss not to mention the socio-political impact of this film .The positive portrayals, of not only the central protagonist but the supporting heroes as well, are ones that will leave a lasting affect . Now, individuals of color can see themselves on the screen performing heroic deeds as well as exhibiting ingenuity, diplomacy, and becoming agents of change without sacrificing cultural identity. It may seem cliche, but I left the theater feeling that I viewed more than a movie. I felt that I just finish viewing the birth of a movement. (A) -CgN