Black Panther

March 11, 2018

A morally nuanced action film for our time.

Since watching Black Panther, I often find my thoughts drifting back to the film and realizing things I didn’t notice at first. It was a much deeper film than your average superhero movie.

On the surface, the costumes and sets were amazing. I especially loved the vision of Wakanda’s capital as both high-tech and one with nature. In film and reality, modern cities are so often depicted in sharp angles of glass, steel, and concrete. Not that those can’t sometimes be beautiful, but they often feel unnatural and even inhuman to me. So I found the capital city refreshing and inspiring with how green it was and with smooth, natural curves to the architecture. At a time when people and technology are doing so much harm to our environment, I think we need more visions like that for how technology and nature can exist in harmony.

I really enjoyed the story as well. By the time the film was over, I couldn’t believe it had been over two hours already. There were so many strong female characters, and strong not in the way society prefers women to be strong, by suffering and sacrificing for others, but women who delighted in their power and strength. That’s another vision we need to see more of. And against the backdrop of a history of European colonizers trying to decide the fate of Africa, I thought it was a marvelous reversal that the primary conflict was about Africans deciding the fate of the rest of the world. I also appreciated that it wasn’t a typical good-vs-evil story like most action films. The main characters both had realistic and sympathetic motivations, which made the ending especially moving. While N’Jadaka was defeated, he won something of a moral victory in changing T’Challah’s mind about Wakanda’s role on the world stage, and the need to play a part in the larger fight for equality and justice. And that message really made Black Panther feel like a film for our time—that while power and privilege may insulate some from injustice, it does not remove one’s responsibility to fight for justice where it’s needed.