Rating: PG-13, Time: 2hr 14min, Director: Ryan Coogler, Cast on IMDb
So how well did the story flow?
I think there was a great use of multiple plots with all the plots coming full circle. There was a youth who had his heart broken looking for vengeance, challenges to the throne of Wakanda and a bit of competition between women over the hero as well.
How well did they handle the transition from the US to Africa and other countries?
I think the film handles modern day Africa just a bit, the modern mythical Wakanda and realities of the urban youth living in ghettos as well. One mysterious stranger, who works with one of the villains to steal a Wakanda artifact from a museum turns out to be a lost son of Wakanda. He then challenges the current King and starts to take over the film. The two black panthers in subtle way represent the black community approach to surviving in the white world: stick to your own and don't go out of your way or to bluntly take on the world and strive for change (the Black Panther political party of the 1960s).
How intertwined was the original comics and the political party of the same name?
Well, this was the first black superhero, which was followed by other black comics like Falcon, Luke Cage and later Green Lantern. Both the Black Panther comic and the political party formed the same year in 1966. Stan Lee even tried to change the name to the Black Leopard, but the original name was too popular. Basically, it's a chicken or egg question that only Stan Lee knows the answer to, but technically the comics debuted 3 months earlier. I like that in that the creators of the comic were not white washing the party, but kind of reflecting the generation change of blacks as super heros and normalized citizens at the same time. The comics and obviously the party made a huge difference to changing stereo types of weak, subservient people to the possibility of strong, intelligent black people that could be independent. This was radical in the 1960s.
The movie definitely borrows some imagery of the Black Panthers party such as Huey Newton. The movie also borrows a bit on the social justice of the party with the ending of the film.
What element did you enjoy the most?
I really enjoyed that they africanized all the accents in the film. In the comics, it reads like any other comics except it has this African mythology. By using all these accents, you really do feel transported to a mythical country of Wakanda except for the lost child of Wakanda, who grew up in the American ghettos. Another really important thing was to have a black director, for the opportunity, and also to get some of the race issues down right. I think we all understand it, but growing up as a perceived minority in your own country and rejected a bit at the same time by the homeland really could only be nailed by a African-American director. I think the director really nails these subtleties that exist on the fringe of the main story.
How do you think the film will be received in Africa?
Its an interesting subject. Basically, all the cast are African-Americans playing Africans for the most part. Then you have the dimension of Africa being colonized, diced up and then rebelled against the European conquests. Another wrinkle is the above mentioned, slight rejection by Africans of African-Americans, which is touched on briefly in the film. I think personally, the film will be a huge success, since it has a big Hollywood budget. The film has the potential to underwind a lot of the poor imagery Americans are used to with multiple food drives and corrupt leaders like in Zimbabwe.
Have you done any art related to the movie?
Not exactly. The Black Panther political party would make for a great topic that I will likely cover in the future. One character I did cover from the 1960s is Malcolm X. I really enjoyed his autobiography when I was 18 and recently reread it. It is mind-blowing how many different lives he lived in such a brief time. That book captures so many issues African-Americans suffer or suffered through in America. You would have thought many issues were resolved with Obama, but with Trump some of the same issues are coming to the surface.
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