5 Reasons You Should Celebrate Black History Month with Black Panther

I only go to the movies once or twice per year, so naturally I’m pretty picky about which ones I see, and why. When I saw Black Panther advertise for the first time, I already knew why I would watch it. You mean I get to see my people not being cast as poverty-stricken thugs and baby-mommas in the hood, for once?

Ha! I could get behind that — and I wanted to do it in the first week of release, as we all know how well a movie does in the first week is the true measure of its success. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one with that plan as by the time I tried to buy tickets on Wednesday, most theaters were already sold out. I just barely managed to snag my ticket for 10:30 PM, Thursday night.

I didn’t watch any of the trailers for the movie and I’m not a big MARVEL fan, so though I didn’t know exactly what to expect, I had high expectations all the same. And boy, did the movie deliver! So now that I’ve been blown away by Black Panther, here are five reasons you’ve got to go see it. Don’t worry — there are no spoilers.

Depiction of True Strength

When I read a book or watch a movie, one of the first things I look out for is how “strong women” are portrayed. The token “strong woman” is the stock character tossed into everything from romantic comedies to spy movies, to appease feminists and supposedly inspire young girls.

But 9 times out of 10, the alleged strong woman just lacks empathy and/or ends up needing to be rescued by a man by the end of the movie or book, anyway. Black Panther follows no such formula.

The science and tech geek? The Princess of Wakanda. The nation’s most well-known spy? The Prince of Wakanda’s romantic interest. The Prince’s personal guards? Women. The general of his army? Also a woman. The leaders of his kingdom? Men and women.

And even better, the movie does this without ever taking away from the strength of men, or subjecting them to any measure of inferiority. The Prince is revered, and the strength of the women he surrounds himself with — and the men — only add to his own strength, as a sovereign.

Money, Meet Mouth

In 2016, the Oscars’ nominee lineup inspired outrage in Hollywood, and on social media. Why? Because for the second year in a row, all the nominees were Caucasian, with the exception of one token Asian actor.

Celebrities like Will Smith, Idris Alba, Whoopi Goldberg, George Clooney, Sylvester Stallone, Matt Damon, Steven Spielberg, and even President Barack Obama took issue with the Oscars and publicly aired their distaste for the lack of diversity.

When these things happen, it’s easy to run to Facebook and Twitter and rant and rage. But the only way we can ensure more movies like this make it to the big screen, is by supporting this one on its way to becoming a box office success. It’s time to put our money where our mouth is.

The Sound of Magic

If this movie isn’t awarded for one of the best soundtracks ever made, I would be surprised. Sure, you’re watching an African movie, and expect to see a few fire-chants, and tribal staff-stomping, but the soundtrack provided far more than that.

The movie was actually scored with tribal music; which gradually blended with old-school, ominous hip hop beats, mostly centering around the villain. The two sounds created a dichotomy, juxtaposing Blacks who still have a pleasant tie to their African roots versus African-Americans who lost their racial identity due to slavery and racism.

This is not a theme I expected the movie to explore, but I was glad it did. I often notice this difference between the people I know from Black-majority countries, versus African-Americans born and raised in a predominantly White country that systematically oppresses them in one form or another. Seeing it illustrated in film was intriguing, to say the least.

Black Dichotomy

The music was not the only engine driving the theme of the Black dichotomy. In fact, the movie on a whole really pushes the envelope in the matter-of-fact way it addresses race in general, with no apologies, and no particular f**ks given.

When the Princess of Wakanda is tasked with healing a White colleague of the Prince, she jokes that they’ve given her another “broken White boy” to fix. And when he wakes to find himself in her lab, she casually (and amicably) refers to him as “Coloniser”.

These matter-of-fact and whimsical treatments of race is contrasted with the African-American reality, where Blackness is almost a burden, rather than a strength. This alternate reality leaves us with one of the most profound movie quotes I have ever heard:

…bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships. Because they knew death was better than bondage.

Making History

Along with exploring history, Black Panther is set to make some history of its own. It is well on its way to becoming a box office success; killing the longstanding belief that movies not featuring a Caucasian lead, and 98-pound damsels in distress, cannot be successful.

I know many of you will agree, this movie was long overdue. Imagine, we had to wait until 2018 to see a film where Blacks and African culture were portrayed in a positive light.

Maybe in another five years, they’ll finally stop paying White actors and actresses with posh accents, to pretend to be Africans in Egypt.

Just saying.

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*Featured Image Photo Credit: Black Panther, Marvel Inc.

52 thoughts on “5 Reasons You Should Celebrate Black History Month with Black Panther

  1. Ah, Alexis, you killed it with this review. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to put it. It’s one of the best African movies I have seen in a very long time.
    The Africaness is just too real and well portrayed.

  2. I am not a Marvel comic fan. However, I desperately want to see “black panther”. The trailers I’ve seen heavily feature some seriously strong women characters, and that alone is enough to make me want to see it. I was told last night (by an old white man🤔) that I shouldn’t go see it because it’s for black people. Wait, whaaaaaaaat? I’m reading that it’s definitely a great example of the future black people could know if they weren’t still being oppressed everywhere; at the same time, it’s a great example of the future women could know if they weren’t constantly being oppressed everywhere.
    If I’m wrong, and shouldn’t go see it, please let me know, but the trailers are bad a$$ and I really want to go see it

      1. Well, no, I’m not a Marvel fan. I’m more of a vampire/werewolf/witch fan (Anne Rice, Laurel K Hamilton). I did, however, enjoy the hell out of Luke Cage on Netflix, & truly want to see “Black Panther” in a theatre

    1. You should definitely go see it. It’s for everyone. Black history month should be celebrated by everyone. It’s a month about Black culture, not for Blacks. I believe the same of the movie!

      And you’re right about the strong female characters. They will blow you away.

      Wakanda actually reminds me a lot of Jamaica, especially in how race is treated by them. It’s inconsequential. Their Blackness is easily forgotten and set aside, while the African Americans in the movie are still struggling with it. Very interesting!

      1. Thank you, Alexis. I’m glad you foster a safe environment for me to ask hard questions and a safe space to hear hard answers. I will definitely be going to see it in a theatre!

      2. Thank you, Cynthia. Where would we be if those safe spaces didn’t exist somewhere for all of us. Glad to be one of them. Let me know how it goes! ^_^

  3. Oh man now I want to go see Black Panther again, and I loved it the first time! It was fantastic and long overdue. I was so worried they’d botch it, but damn that movie was great! I want to be the General when I grow up.

    1. I was a little worried it wouldn’t meet expectations too. That happens so often. Thankfully they hit it right on the nail! This movie is about to pioneer a whole new genre in the film industry! So glad you watched it. 😄

      1. My parents went to see it yesterday and could barely get a seat. They said they were in line for about 15 minutes just to get into the theatre, even though they bought their tickets from home. It’s crazy!

  4. You can’t unpack all the goods in this movie with just one viewing. This movie is like a love letter to African Americans with characters that beautifully showcase their humanity. And shame on you Alexis for not being a Marvel fan (just kidding…sort of).

    1. Haha, I never got into comic books and I don’t watch TV or movies. I went 8 months without turning my TV on between 2017 and this year. That’s how bad I am. 😂😂

      I do believe it’s a letter from Africans to Americans. I wonder who provided that insight though. I find that African Americans generally have a hard time picturing cultures of people like me where we view race so differently. Was that already covered in the comics, or just an addition for the movie?

      1. Haha, you might be right about that. I mostly read for entertainment, and play The Sims. Currently reading all the Sherlock Holmes books. I’ve also been watching Father Brown on Netflix. Murder mysteries are good research for me right now since I’m working on the Moreau Witches book.

      2. I’ve read some of your writing and I am very impressed. You are gifted, driven, and we will be hearing from the New York Times bestselling author Alexis Chateau in the near future.

      3. Awww *blushes* I hope I live up to those expectations. Will definitely keep you guys posted as I work my way through the writing and publishing process for my witches. 😊😊

  5. I was so hyped to go, so excited and proud watching it and so so glad it was made after it was over. And I want to see it again but in 3D this time. And as a woman it was so wonderful for both the strong (wanna be stronger) and geek in me. Love love love it!

    1. I’m so glad you got to see it! The women blew my mind. I am so happy with the way they disregarded all the typical formulas of a successful movie. There wasn’t even a sex scene! Not a one! No oversexualisation of women. Nothing. I am so proud of this film.

      1. THANK YOU! Also, while this is throwing a bit of shade on myself, I was so happy not to see a “light-skinned Black girl” on set. I’m sorry but the curly-haired, sandy-skinned to the capuccino-skinned versions of Black like myself, get way too much on-screen time.

  6. My grandson says we have to wait until next weekend. He hasn’t said why. Meanwhile he has been explicating the background of each character in every Marvel movie. I lose track listening to him and then he gets aggravated with me. My granddaughter is equally excited about the film. So I will let you know how I react. I just hope I don’t go deaf with the sound of the amplified version they want to see!

    1. Hahahaha, he probably wants to wait because it’s really hard to get a seat right now. And since you’re going as a group, and likely plan to sit together, it’s even harder. Some theaters reserved most of their rooms for Black Panther and it’s STILL sold out. I saw time options like 7:00, 7:10, 7:15 and still couldn’t get a seat until the 10:30pm show. Look how little space is between those. My goodness!

      1. LoL my mom and my husband are like that. I took my least fave seat to see Black Panther (the first row) and I completely forgot about my seating arrangement once the movie started!

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