I can’t begin to express how utterly excited I am to be writing this review. it’s finally here. Black Panther is out now worldwide. Go and see this movie.
The movie did not disappoint.
It was refreshing to see an overwhelming black cast (shout out to the One Show for glaring pointing this out as if its somehow an erroneous thing) so magnificently presented on our screen, with strong female supporting characters who stole the show. This review will solely focus on these dynamic women. Subscribe to my YouTube channel: The JayBee Show for a more in-depth look at the film (video coming soon).
Wakanda in all its splendour is simply breath-taking. From the colours, to the architecture, to the melanin popping all over my screen, I was filled with awe and wonderment. This afro futuristic film gave us a glimpse of what Africa could have been like had it not been colonised and pillaged of all its resources.
Can you imagine Africa without colonisation? Can you imagine Africa being untouched and left to its own devices? Can you picture the wealth? The majesties of the people? The unspoiled soil where rivers flow? A world where the only water flowing , isn’t the bitter sting of tears (Do they know it’s Christmas?, Band Aid). Yes, this may sound all superfluous and yes, I may have a very utopian view of Africa and all 54 countries which reside it. However, I truly believe that being a 3rd world continent would not have been our portion had we not been colonised.
Wakanda like modern day countries in Africa such as Congo, Angola and Sierra Leone is littered with the world’s greatest resource. In this fictional country, this resource is known as Vibranium – whereas in our reality, this would probably take the form of cobalt, uranium, petroleum etc. It is for this reason that Wakanda window dresses as a third-world country to fool the western world and keep it’s vibranium from falling into the wrong hands.
Vibranium has allowed Wakanda to make technological advancement beyond western imagination and this innovation is driven by a young Black girl called Shuri (Letitia Wright). Shuri is the smartest person in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even smarter than Tony Stark himself. All Hail this Black Girl Magic! Shuri is truly an innovator, her technological designs and capabilities are light years ahead of anyone. She is fierce, bold and possess one of the best line of the movie “Don’t scare me like that, coloniser!” ooohhh the shade. Shuri is the energetic, annoying little sister of T’challa (Black Panther – Chadwick Boseman). It is due to her designs that the Black Panther himself is able to be the skilled fighter that he is. She makes him a bulletproof suit, gives him silent sneakers and a whole host of other gadgets that allow him to triumph over his adversary. She is the Q to his Bond.
This black girl magic doesn’t just start and end with Shuri – oh no. We are also introduced to one of the most elite warriors known to man – The Dora Milaje.
The Dora Milaje are a special force group who protect the throne from enemies both foreign and domestic. If Shuri is the brains of Wakanda then the Dora Milaje are the muscle. The Dora Milaje all sport bald heads and fight using spears rather than use ‘primitive weapons’ like guns. Seeing women in such position of power and being physical imposing is super powerful. The Dora Milaje are unapologetically strong and stand proud in all their natural glory.
In one of the scenes in the movie Okoye (Danai Guerra), the Head of the Dora Milaje uses her wig as a weapon after being forced to cover her bald head in order to blend in. She scoffs at the idea of having to do so and when the fighting commences, her wig is the first thing to go. She throws her wig at her assailant momentarily distracting him and is able to throw him over the bannister. This moment reminded of me of when Alek Wek, while walking in a Betsey Johnson runway show threw off the blonde wig she was styled in. This has become a symbol of rebelling against a European standard of beauty. I believe that this is what Okoye was also protesting about. In another scene and further highlighting this rejection of European ideals, Everett Ross (CIA Agent – Martin Freeman) asks ‘Does she speak English’ to which Okoye replies ‘When she wants to’. My heart swelled with pride. Yes Okoye, tell them! Use your mother tongue with pride and don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed of it.
Moving on to another tour de force – Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o). Nakia is a spy for Wakanda and T’Challa’s love interest. Nakia is disillusioned with Wakanda’s isolationist policy of closing itself off and refusing to help other Black people suffering in the Continent and beyond. She wants to do more to help the people that look like her and refuses to sit behind enjoying the splendours in Wakanda while they suffer. Nakia, I would say shares Pan-Africanism sentiment similar to that of Killmonger (Michael B Jordan), the villain in the movie. However, their methods and belief on how this should be executed differ significantly. Nakia to me is the moral voice of the movie, she speaks for all the marginalised and displaced Africans both in the Continent and abroad.
Nakia for all intents and purpose saves Wakanda from Killmonger’s reign. She saves Queen Ramonda and Shuri, from what would have been certain death at the hands of Killmonger and she also preserves the heart shaped herb which gives T’challa his source of power, thereby putting the rightful king on the throne. Nakia is the ally that we all need.
In Wakanda, women are allowed to realize their full potential and circumvent the damsel in distress role. The Women of Wakanda write their own narrative and stand proud and bold in the face of adversity.
Black Panther served so much Black Girl Magic and I am overwhelmed. I’m just sitting here lapping it all up all over again. I loved the fact that the film showcased the women in all their natural glory with no straight hair in sight. From braids, to locks, to curly fros and bald heads, these women stood defiant in their blackness and I am all here for it.