Hi guys! So I’ve got some good news: the next chapter of The Uncanny X-Men should be out within the next couple of weeks! Three at the most.
In the meantime, however, I thought I would share some of my thoughts about the upcoming Black Panther movie.
Thing is, I’ve never read a Black Panther comic and only one, maybe two others with him in it. My exposure to the character has been pretty much limited to Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Captain America: Civil War. So this is about as close to the point of view of the general audience who have never heard of Black Panther before as you’re going to get.
Join me under the cut!
Some Historical Context
Black Panther was created in 1966 by Jack “The King” Kirby and Stan “The Man” Lee, shortly before the (in)famous political party was created. This is not a coincidence: the Sixties were a time of great upheaval in America, what with the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement and Second Wave Feminism all really hitting their peak at this period. The Civil Rights Movement, in particular, was hitting more than it’s fair share of ups and downs: Malcolm X had been murdered the year before. Murdered by his former colleagues in the Nation of Islam, no less, after particularly nasty falling out. Black nationalism was fracturing, rapidly. And Doctor King’s own movement was facing some struggles of it’s own, namely the fact that it was broke. And of course, there was the rightly infamous J. Edgar Hoover, whose relationship with the Civil Rights Movement was decidedly negative.
So, with all that in mind, it is not surprising that Marvel Comics, being one of the two leading comic book houses of the day and a steadily gaining media giant in it’s own right, would create a response to the world around them. And being a pair of liberal Jews, it’s even less of a surprise that the response Kirby and Lee came up with is an African superhero.
In fact, they created the first Black superhero, at least in mainstream comics. Kind of cool, when you think about it.
On To The Movie!
And that pretty much exhausts my knowledge of Black Panther in the comics. There’s a couple of other things I do know (Christopher Priest run good, Reginald Hudlin run bad, wedding with Storm controversial) but that’s about it. When it comes to Black Panther, I’m basically a newb.
So I’m looking forward to this! Should be good.
Black Panther’s costume has always been pretty basic: a black, all-body catsuit with a face covering cowl that has a vaguely cat like face on it. There’s been a couple of variations on the theme (I seem to recall EMH having a lot of purple in the costume?) but Jack Kirby knew his business and the Black Panther costume has pretty much stuck around as he originally designed it.
And the movie costume doesn’t really change anything either. It’s got silver highlights, like in CA:CW, with some purple Tron Lines running through it and a claw motif that gets repeated now and again, but it’s still a pretty simple costume. If it ain’t broke, they say, don’t fix it. Even the purple highlights are basically a way to distinguish T’Challa’s costume from Erik Killmonger’s which has gold highlights.
Good costume, faithful to the comics, and doesn’t run into any of the usual problems adapting comic costumes to film. Not much else to say here.
Okay, Wakanda looks cool.
I’ve see Wakanda basically twice before: once in EMH and once in Ultimate Alliance 2. And I can’t say I cared for either depiction. EMH’s version seemed to lean way too heavily on the tribal nature and traditional (read: primitive) themes in Wakandan architecture. And UA 2 wasn’t a whole lot better in my opinion.
The film version of Wakanda, on the other hand, looks almost exactly how I first imagined Wakanda to look like when it was first described to me. The blend of futurism and traditional architecture is, in my opinion, much better here. It lacks some of the cold sterility that was implied in the end of CA:CW (which, to be fair, took place in a hospital which are supposed to be cold and sterile) and has a great degree of warmth and coziness without sacrificing any of it’s futuristic look. It’s great and it looks like a place you’d want to live.
Admittedly, the background for Wakanda kind of bugs me. Isolationist nations don’t develop very well, and I’m not sure how just having access to vibranium would spur the kind of advanced technology that they display? Just having access to iron, for example, didn’t do a thing for Europe.
Now, I’m probably just missing something. Like I said, my knowledge of Black Panther is pretty thin, and the comics probably do give a better explanation of Wakanda’s technological advancement than ‘they have a super-metal, roll with it,’ and I hope that the movie does too.
I rather liked Chadwick Boseman in CA:CW, and I see no reason to suspect that I’m going to be disappointed here. Boseman has the kind of innate gravitas that you simply can’t teach and can’t practice, and it fits perfectly with T’Challa’s character. He’s also given T’Challa a sly, understated sense of humour, which I enjoy.
The trailers basically confirm that T’Challa’s arc in this movie is balancing his responsibilities as king with his own morals as a human being, which is kind of cliché, but oh well. It’s not a bad plot, and it would be weird for a king (or president or prime minister or whatever) not to have to deal with that conflict, but it is very much the go to storyline for every leader of a country in fiction.
There’s a scene in the trailer that I found very neat: the one where he does the secret handshake thing with Shuri, his sister (at least, the internet tells me that’s who it is. I hope they aren’t lying to me). I like that because all to often media and media commentators portray stoics and stoicism (and T’Challa is very much a stoic) as being unemotional robots. That’s really not the point of stoicism, and showing T’Challa and Shuri having a little, somewhat understated, family moment is great.
Those are all my current thoughts on Black Panther; I will have more as the movie comes closer and I will post a review if I’m able to see it. Which, as it stands, is not terribly likely but I will keep you informed.