I may become a fan of super hero movies. First Wonder Woman, which I guess was last year already, and now Black Panther. I wasn’t real excited about going to this movie, but we’d made a date to go see some movie with Scott and Kaye and here came Black Panther. I asked around, I guess I hate to waste my precious time or something, and the scuttlebutt was that it was pretty good. Then I read a review that was highly complimentary, saying the movie was a rare bird among superhero movies in that it was worth a second viewing. So we got eager. And we were not disappointed. I loved it. Yes, some scenes are pretty loud and they like to have a lot of clashy battles, explosions abound, and there is a car chase. We come from hunters, we like chase scenes. Did it all start with the Dodge Charger and Steve McQueen in the Mustang roaring around the streets of San Francisco? It did for me. If you like the loud stuff I think there is probably enough for you in this movie, but what I loved was not that. The idea of a . technologically superior place kind of hiding in the mists of Africa, protected by mountain and impenetrable jungle from outside knowledge, is pretty appealing. Shades of the old comic Phantom, by Lee Falk. Ok. we need to have the willing suspension of disbelief that we couldn’t fly over or that a satellite wouldn’t pick it up, or google maps doesn’t have a street view of it. There you go. One of the features of us humans is that we can do that. We enjoy stories and they are important to our progress as a species. We aspire to greater heights because of stories. we get ideas from stories.They are tremendously important to our future. We think because of stories. Yes, I know everyone and his brother thinks that technology is the answer to all our woes, but they are wrong. We are human. We thrive on stories. And Music. And art. And this movie starts with a story. “Tell me a story.” “Which one?” And the kid wants to hear about Wakanda. We are listening, too, rapt. Secret land? Technologically advanced? Hiding in plain sight? Then we have some pretty good heists, shady deals to buy contraband and some explosive action. We get a good view of a scary bad guy, the weapons dealer who escapes from our hero with the help of a young kid we thought was just a punk who turns out to be Formidable. We’re confused. Who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys. Some internal tension- the new king makes decision that doesn’t work out well and his militant friend is disappointed. And we thought they were brothers. That’s why the disappointment is so powerful. And then things get complicated. I kept waiting for the Black Panther to go somewhere and do something superheroish. It’s right at home that it happens. Insurrection. Isolationism versus helping other nations. Or maybe overthrowing other nations. And the bad guy has a good point. There are a lot of people out there who don’t have what the Wakandans have. We ought to share. There’s plenty for all. Factions. How to accomplish this sharing? Allegiance to the office, or to the man? Or to the idea. Oh it is rich. And timely. Our government is going through the same thing. Building walls to keep out the riff raff. Various people who have allegiance to the office, some who are loyal to a man. So when this movie resolves all these problems it feels pretty darn good. And the portrayal of women in this film is stunning, and not just because the women are good looking- which of course they are. They are scientists, nerds, healers, warriors, dignified states people, wise. Impressive. And did I mention funny? We have our royal highness brought up short any number of times by a woman’s remark. The king says to his gorgeous female friend, “You’d make a good queen if you weren’t so stubborn.” She responds “I’d make a good queen because I am stubborn. If that’s what I wanted.”
There’s one line I was hoping wasn’t there. Spoiler alert? There is a moment when I was hoping the king would say to a vanquished foe, “We can heal you.” He says that we could probably heal you. And the vanquished foe will have none of it. He says something about how all those who jumped off slave ships knew that “Death was better than bondage” and it makes a good line in the movie and a dramatic moment, but I disagree. I think that the cause of liberation of blacks, of the remarkable rise out of bondage was accomplished by people who did not die, but who worked and taught and fought for a future they could hardly see at the time. Are we there yet? To a place where we are all accepted as humans no matter how we look. Are you kidding me. No we’re not. And there is a long way to go yet, and that’s what I really liked about this move. That it is a big step forward on that journey. Inspirational. Laying out that fighting is not the way, that education and social responsibility, and helping those less fortunate is the way. That we do not need more boundaries. We need to start acting as if we were all from the same tribe.
So when I read about trolls tweeting about how they were beaten while waiting ion line to see the film- white people being beaten by blacks of course, being told that this is not their movie, I get distressed. Funny thing about those trolls tweeting is this. In New York, in Chicago, in Houston, in L.A., the police have had no reports of beatings at movie theaters. So is it a conspiracy to cover up black violence against whites? Or is it an attempt by some to stir something up, to create division where none exist because this movie has the power to change the way we view the world in a very positive way. You might have to think about that. There is a line at the end of the movie where the Wakandans are speaking to what I presume is the UN, offering their help. Some jackass in a suit says something along the lines of, “With all due respect, sir, how can you teach us anything?” Right. If we have all the answers already, we can’t learn a thing. That’s Trump’s whole schtick. He knows what he knows and like to stir things up, create commotion so nothing can get done except what he wants. I think you should go see this movie. And think about what we can do to start acting like we all belong together. It’s pretty heady stuff.