I saw it. I loved it.
One of the things I particularly loved about this Marvel movie was the fact that it didn’t quite feel like a Marvel movie. There was an emphasis on grief and the difficulty of grieving that I thought was particularly well paced, a hard, bitter shell around the soft, gooey action sequences. People who have read my work will not be surprised by this. I am fascinated by how humans process loss, and the highs and lows it can drive us to. Shuri is driven to both over the course of this movie, and in ways that feel totally believable to me and to her character.
Of course, because Shuri is the central character for a lot of the film (a great choice in my opinion) the movie continued to explore the tension between tradition and technology, and I loved that, too. There’s a powerful potential in Afrofuturism to reinvent lost traditions, and while Wakanda never totally loses its own traditions in the way that conquered and colonized African and African diaspora populations have sometimes been forced to, Shuri herself embodies the movement from isolation and into relation with the world in a way the T’Challa did not. Losing him feels like the metaphorical nail in the coffin for the old ways, and Shuri is forced to reinvent her relationship with those old ways through the technology she loves, something that I think will certainly speak to American audiences at this time in our history.
I cannot talk about this movie without talking about the way it was filmed. As always, Black Panther continues to have excellent costuming and visuals. The reuse of shots in order to evoke memory and loss — memory and loss specifically felt by the audience as well as the characters — was masterful. I ABSOLUTELY loved the filming of this movie, the angles, the light, the footage and camera tricks that gave normal settings an almost mystical vibe. If you study film at all it’s worth seeing just for that — and it was a refreshing solution in an age where CGI dominates. If I never see one more CGI resurrection it will be too soon.
Lastly, and very mild spoilers here, I want to give a shout out to the very real-feeling global politics. To be honest this whole movie felt like something you might read about in a history book and I am super into that. It was like an Afrofuturist Game of Thrones, but one that didn’t overtly objectify all the very fascinating female characters. There was a bit of a “left eating itself” vibe to this movie and I am really invested in how that plays out. I want to know how Wakanda survives in a situation with no allies, a technological gap that’s closing, and in a stalemate with a superpower that is essentially unassailable — a so-called alliance that gives no benefits to Wakanda and offers no protections. The odds do not seem to be in their favor. This movie is certainly setting the stakes for what feels like a final payoff of some kind that I hope will not be lost in some Avengers-esque universal catastrophe.
Anyway, go see it if you haven’t.