Film Corner: Black Panther

image of part of the movie poster for the film Black Panther, showing a number of cast members

The much-anticipated Black Panther had an amazing opening weekend, pulling in $192 million (!!!) at the box office, giving it "the fifth-biggest opening weekend ever, not accounting for inflation. The only films with a higher grossing opening weekend are Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Jurassic World, and The Avengers. It's also the highest-grossing February opening weekend. ...Ryan Coogler's film, which cost about $200m to make, is the most big-budget, largely black ensemble film in years and among the few to be centered on a black superhero. The strong opening suggests Black Panther will easily set a box-office record for films directed by a black filmmaker."

WOOT! I am a major fan of Ryan Coogler, having absolutely adored 2015's Creed and been incredibly moved by his 2013 film about the police killing of Oscar Grant, Fruitvale Station, both of which also starred the terrific Michael B. Jordan, who played Killmonger in Black Panther. So thrilled for Coogler's much-deserved success!

Black Panther is really, really great. The story is solid superhero stuff; the cast is totally outstanding (HELLO, STERLING K. BROWN ILY); the acting is A+; the special effects are brilliant; it has the best car chase for my money since Matrix: Revolutions (fight me!); the score is wonderful; and there's just so much clever stuff in the film, which is also paced really well, so it's compelling in every way.

And that, of course, doesn't even begin to touch what makes Black Panther so profoundly special for its Black audience. (And to its non-Black audiences, though we can't appreciate it in the same way.)

I strongly recommend, especially if you are a non-Black person, searching out the voices of Black people talking about what Black Panther means to them, and of the Black people who worked to create the film. A few recommendations:

* On Twitter, #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe is deeply moving.

* At the New York Times: Carvell Wallace writes "Why Black Panther Is a Defining Moment for Black America."

* At the Root: Clarkisha Kent writes "Wakanda Forever: On the Importance of Black Panther."

* At Rolling Stone, Chadwick Boseman and Ryan Coogler speak to Josh Eells about the 'Black Panther' Revolution.

* At Mother Jones, screenwriter Joe Robert Cole speaks to Brandon E. Patterson.

*At Elle, costume designer Ruth Carter speaks to Kendra James.

* At NPR, Gene Demby speaks to Lulu Garcia-Navarro.

I will never be able to fully understand what Black Panther means to a Black person who loves this film, but I can relate in some way as a fat woman who has longed for representation and loved rare examples of seeing people who look like me imbued with their full humanity on the screen.

To be known in such a thrilling way is intoxicating. I understand that.

Finally: Let us talk about the women of Black Panther, who are goddamned thrilling! As heroic as T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is, he isn't the same Black Panther without:

1. His mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett), who always has his fucking back.

2. His sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), who is not only his bestie, but also a kickass scientist that creates all the impressive technologies on which he and his allies rely.

3. His general Okoye (Danai Gurira), who leads the security force of wicked cool women warriors that guard the king.

4. His confidant and love Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), who is in every way his equal, his sage advisor, and a keen conspirator in the heroics.


It is vanishingly rare that I watch a male superhero film where I don't actively loathe how the female character (singular used advisedly) is treated by the filmmakers. In Black Panther, there were four complex female characters and I loved all of them!!!

Thank you for this movie, Ryan Coogler! ♥

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