Someone asked me to give them 10 reasons I loved Black Panther.
Here is my mostly spoiler-free answer:
1) The screenplay did a great job of balancing action and exposition. We got a brief origin story at the beginning of the film that was backfilled along the way.
2) The film didn’t shy away from being politically topical. You can’t have a movie with a 95% Black cast and not touch on subjects like colonization and the ongoing oppression of the African diaspora. The conversations and themes evoked in the movie felt like conversations Black People have everyday.
3) I love the organic feel of Wakanda. Often in the comic books Wakanda is drawn so technologically advanced it is removed from African civilization or is made to look like a European city dropped down in a jungle. This Wakanda felt realistic. It had skyscrapers and markets. It was human scaled. From its cues from the Great Mosque of Djenné to the chaotic street life of Lagos or Nairobi.
4) The movie had some pretty standard set pieces like the car chase through Busan and the climatic air battle. But many of the edits felt fresh. The fight in the casino with General Okoye using her wig and high heels as weapons were amazing. It was also a powerful statement of her shedding Western standards of beauty and femininity.
5) The film was about T’Challa but I haven’t seen a more Black women-centered movie. Often in superhero films and action movies women are relegated to love interests, damsels, bloodless leaders or side-kicks. This film put 4 Black women front and center. They were warriors, scientists, spies and yes the love interest.
6) Ryan Coogler did a fantastic job of respecting the vast and disparate cultures of Africa. Left to lesser hands Wakanda would have probably slipped into stereotype.
7) I love the fact that all of the male characters were emotional. We are often inundated with the brooding angry superhero that has been damaged by life and uses his powers to redeem himself. I love that the director extracted pain, joy and tears from all his male leads. I was glad to see Black men cry and show affection which is something you rarely see on television or film. It brought a gravitas to a fantasy film.
8) The film felt nimble. Often these giant superhero movies feel clunky as you lurch from one action sequence to another. I could have easily watched 30 to 45 more minutes.
9) The CGI– with the exception of a few scenes–didn’t over power the movie. A lot of these movies just rely on a computer. This movie had a foundation in a great script, great actors and a great director.
10) And finally the main reason I loved the movie was because it was filled with Black People.