Black Panther

It is only the second day since Marvel Studios’ much-anticipated event film Black Panther has hit South African and international theatres. As a movie analyst, critic, column writer and, most importantly, a fan, I have kept up with news regarding the movie’s release and reception. If you have an internet connection, you don’t need me to tell you that the film has indeed lived up to the hype – it is smart, multi-layered, Afro-futuristic, emotional, meaningful and a metric ton of fun. No, you don’t need me to tell you that. You also don’t need me to tell you to go watch it. That is up to you.

Black Panther

I’m here to tell you that there are people out there, affectionately referred to within internet-culture as trolls, who wish to devalue director Ryan Coogler’s film and diminish the viewers’ experience of it. The film has seen an uphill battle with regards to these trolls. There have been purposeful attempts to lower the Rotten Tomatoes audience score, people have bad-mouthed the movie on Twitter for having hidden agendas, and now trolls are posting images of themselves, or other people or even stock photos, in either make-up or with real, unrelated injuries, claiming that the black members of the audience at Black Panther showings would present themselves as violent and aggressive.

Not true.

Black Panther Article

I can say this to the entire world because I went to the Friday night showing in South Africa as a white South African where I was in the minority in a stacked theatre (you don’t really get a better example than that). And the experience? It was simply amazing, uplifting and cheerful from beginning to end. I saw black people dress up in their traditional African robes, celebrating their heritage and tradition. And when I asked for selfies with them, they could not be happier.

I was a white guy, celebrating something that I, for once, could not personally connect to on-screen. In the past, I could watch Thor with his long, straight and blonde locks. I could watch Superman with his steel jaw and blue eyes. I could watch a lower-class white teenager still being able to get a good education in Peter Parker. This was normal. This time, however, I could be envious of not being able to wear traditional African garbs. I had to read the subtitles because I could not understand the language like the lady next to me could; the unfamiliar became an experience, only this time it was Africa instead of Asgard and Africans instead of Asgardians.

Black Panther Movie

As I sat there in Row C, the gentleman on my left laughing every time Chadwick Boseman’s African accent slipped (something that will go unnoticed to an American viewer, but a bit more obvious to any native Xhosa speaker), and the lady on my right affirming with a sassy “Hmm-m!” the way only a South African black lady can each time Eric Killmonger or Shuri lets the mic drop with a revolutionary speech or one-liner. I enjoying their reactions more than the actual movie. It’s one thing to watch Black Panther in any other part of the country and celebrate the first black superhero movie (more on this later), but it’s another thing to watch Black Panther in the Motherland and see familiar African faces in a Marvel Studios movie, hear familiar languages and accents, and to be able to celebrate cultural pride that IS actually your culture. All that happiness doesn’t leave much room for anger, and why should it.

During all of this, not once did I feel as if I did not belong. And neither should you. I found myself being intoxicated by my fellow movie-goers’ experience. When they laughed at a bit I didn’t quite understand, I found myself laughing as well. When a room-shattering white-guilt joke was made, I found myself cheering along with the gentleman next to me. When all of that was over with and I walked out of one of the best movies I have seen in my entire life (not without its flaws, but pretty damn good), I saw both black and white South Africans taking pictures together, reenacting certain scenes, discussing the politics of the film, and generally stepping away from one damned good experience.

Black Panther Movie Experience

One last thing, I mentioned earlier that this is the first black superhero movie. Twitter has been on fire lately on this specific subject. Yes, I know Meteor-man, Blade, Steel, and Spawn came before. There have been other black-led superhero films. When I refer to Black Panther as “the first black-led superhero film” I am not referring to “black” the skin colour. I am referring to “black” the experience. In this film, both the American and African black experience is centre stage. So, yes. I will be calling T’Challa the first black superhero to carry his own film, and no one has any right to take anything away from that. Not from the film, not from director Ryan Coogler, not from Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan or Danai Gurira.

It is 2018. This article should not exist.


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6 Comments

  1. Mary

    Wonderful! I love this article! As a coloured person (my mom is white and my dad is black), this was a truly South African experience and white South African could totally relate and catch some of the African sayings and culture throughout the film.

    I too had a lot of fun hearing the reactions to the broken Xhosa haha! This was truly wonderful and I haven’t had such an immersive experience in the cinema ever before! Everyone was absolutely enthralled!

    I wish the magic of cinema could come back again like this.

  2. Oethman Khan

    every time i see a comment about black panther being the first black super hero, someone comments blade and spawn were black super heroes
    the only two examples are both r-rated movies where the main characters arent your typical super heroes
    spawn is literally hellspawn, he does some good things but calling him a super hero… i think its a stretch
    and blade… not a nice guy either

    so im very glad to see a blockbuster movie with an African dominated cast. and im especially glad to see how happy people are that they have a movie where most of the cast are African. Its by time

  3. Leon Liebenberg

    I havent seen the movie, but I know the comics so this response is based on 3 things other than the actual film, firstly, the hype, secondly the SJW frenzy and thirdly, the author of this review.
    According to the MSM, this film is The Second Coming and Chadwick Boseman is the Christ. You say this is the first Black Experience Superhero, give me a break. You’re saying that black people in Wakanda is more of a black experience than Blade’s experiences in the fictitious city he lives in? It’s being treated like this film and this film alone, forget ML King, forget Malcolm X, but this film has finally broken the shackles of the black man. It’s so obviously contrived, and if you disagree, I ask you to consider that Black Panther was created by 2 white dudes, and the film was green lit by a bunch of white Disney executives.
    The SJW hysteria attached to this film has gone past retarded.
    From a dumb white middle class woman taking to Twitter about how she cant find Wakanda in her son’s geography notes anywhere and is more proof of white patriarchal blah blah blah bull shit to a Facebook video of 2 black dudes going full retard at the Black Panther poster and saying; “Is this what white folk feel like with every movie?” Let me answer, No, it’s not how we feel with every movie. Being Jewish on my mothers side (which in Judaism is the only side that counts), I have never gone to a Woody Allen movie and lost my shit on Facebook.
    Let me just explain something all you Leftist snowflakes seem to be missing, Wakanda ISN’T REAL. The NY Times did a piece where they were saying that Wakanda represents what Africa would be like had it not been for Colonialism. Really? Before white people got here, Africa was a paradise of peace and Ubuntu? Let me tell you there was genocide and slavery going on here for thousands of years before we arrived. Ethiopia was never colonised – it doesn’t resemble Wakanda in any way. Liberia was never colonised and it’s certainly not Wakanda.
    Wakanda works as a fiction, but the SJW army is trying to make out like its a fact and if we follow its example we too can all live in Utopia. SO lets look at that, Wakanda isolated itself from the rest of the (white) world and became the most advanced society on Earth. Please, name one country that didn’t turn to shit almost immediately when it chose to isolate itself?
    This brings me to my third point, the author of this article. You represent every SJW stereo type I can think of. Even if you didn’t expressly make out that white guilt is real and that as long as we accept it, we can laugh at it, as long as the black people around us laugh first, your entire article is dripping with it. You say yourself that this is 2018, the time of black people believing all the problems they experience are because of the white man and white people flagellating themselves with “white guilt” so they can achieve some sort of penance, should be over.
    But the most annoying thing about this article is that you end it by saying that I don’t have the right to say anything negative about this film.
    Is that a fact?
    You are going to tell me what I have the right to say and think? Who the hell made you the thought police? I am free to say whatever I want about this film, that’s my right, and unless I woke up in a Totalitarian regime this morning, not you, not Disney, not Ellen DeGeneres or Oprah Winfrey has any right to try censor that.
    I’m going to watch Black Panther because I enjoyed the character in Civil War, I enjoyed the comics and I like what I’ve seen in the trailers, I will suspend my disbelief for 2 hours, but I will not treat this film like it’s responsible for changing the world and I’m required to change with it or I’m a racist sexist homophobe.

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