Opening scene Oakland 1992 poor inner city kids playing basket ball.....check. Poor inner city kids playing basket ball can't afford a rim and net, instead using a milk crate nailed to a post; African engineering......check! Chain link fence, rundown tenement building, looks more like a prison check! Two typical gangsta looking criminal element Black dudes......,check! Machine guns and various other guns placed around the apartment.........CHECK!!!!
We're not even 5 minutes into this "ground breaking" film made to "elevate" Black cinema to another level and it starts the same as 95% of all other inner city crime movies. Don't get me wrong this is a great movie.....but not for African Americans. This movies was made to push current politics in your face, and to get audiences to see the "Black" experience and not just in America but Africa as well. This movie could've taken Black Cinema ten steps ahead, yet it only takes us five. Do any of you remember Coming to America, do you remember how regal and posh everything was at the beginning of that film? Eddie Murphy and James Earl Jones in fine silks, furs, and linen. The Grand Palace, all the servant girls spreading flower petals for royalty to walk on, valets, butlers, and who can forget WIPERS! So why start off this movie about the richest African country in the World and a Black king turned superhero, by showing the real-world poverty which is the reality for most Black people? Do any of you non-comic book readers know that because he is King of Wakanda, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is the richest superhero ever written about? His wealth dwarfs the money of Iron Man, Batman, and Green Arrow combined precisely because he is a King…of the wealthiest country in the universe. Wakanda itself is one of the most technologically advanced places on the planet and it is Earth’s only source of Vibranium, the rarest metal on the planet. Vibranium gives Wakandans advanced weapons and armor and unlimited energy, that they seem to horde and refuse to share with the rest of the world.
Vibranium is the real reason why the young King T'Chaka (Atandwa Kani) comes to the hood in 1992, he was supposedly coming to check on his younger brother, N'Jobu (Sterling K. Brown), who was sent there to "observe" African-Americans? Observe what?? I guess our being in our natural habitat of squalor, and under the thumb of oppression??? And why Oakland and not DC, New York, LA, or Chicago a major cities where major atrocities were occurring? The Kings brother N'Jobu "observes" the horrible conditions that African Americans live in, decides on his own to take some of the family Vibranium. The plan is to use it to build weapons to give to his disenfranchised brothers and sisters in America so they can liberate themselves. The wise King thinking ONLY of Wakanda says no and demands that his younger brother return home now to answer for his crime. N'Jobu who had denied taking the Vibranium earlier, is now enraged because he finds out his generic Black henchmen is actually a Wakandan spy (Denzel Whitaker) sent there by T'Chaka and has been reporting his every move. So the watchers that are watching are being watched! (if you're Black, you'll know this reference) N'Jobu grabs a gun to shoot the spy, and the regal Great King T'Chaka puts his claws through the heart of his brother and KILLS him! Excuse me Mr King T'Chaka you have super strength and speed you couldn't just knock him out, cut the gun in half, or just stand in front of your spy and let the bullets bounce off your armor? So now this SUPPOSEDLY great ground-breaking film for Black people, has now in the first 10 minutes start off with not just the basic Blaxploitation elements, but also Black on Black MURDER of his own brother....CHECK!
But wait, there's more! King T'Chaka leaves his brother’s body lying on the floor of his apartment, no Royal burial for him. He then retrieves the Vibranium stolen by N'Jobu, but leaves the guns and ammo behind. And guess who finds this horrific scene? Young Erik Killmonger (Seth Carr). Imagine the trauma to find your father’s body with claw marks through his heart and a cache of weapons lying about. Come on Disney really that's how we're going to introduce millions of Black youth to our 2nd Black Superhero Superstar? (Blade was the first real Black Marvel Superhero.) Let’s start a movie off with all the 1970's Blaxploitation elements and mix in a little family murder and while we’re at it, ABANDON a royal heir to the throne to, be raised on the streets with NO FATHER!!!! News flash Disney that happens to be a sore spot for African-American"s their children growing up not having a father in the home. And further still, director Ryan Coogler thought it was no big deal to gloss over the fact King T'Chaka would rather kill his brother than let him help African-Americans liberate themselves in 1992. But let’s move on. Now we get to meet Okoye (Danai Gurira, aka Michone from Walking Dead) who is the bad ass captain of the king’s all-female royal guard, the Dora Milaje. She and T'Challa are en route to pick up his love interest Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) who is on a covert mission. Okoye instructs T'Challa not to freeze when he sees Nakia, and asks if he needs help. Wait, is this Black Panther in training or something? We get our first real action scene of the movie: after kicking a little African Slave trader butt, he freezes when he sees Nakia and Okoye has to save the day...of course. He informs Nakia that she must leave her important mission of freeing the captive slave women (really Coogler slavery?) because his father has died.
We now get our first look at Wakanda from Black Panther’s personal transport as it flies in through the protective shield hiding Wakanda. He is going to see his mother, sister and the counsel to prepare for the ceremony to take the throne. We meet his younger sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) who is also the head of the Wakanda science department and designs most of the technology that they use. And we see Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and she comforts her son T'Challa as they prepare for the ceremony which includes a challenge from any of the other tribes in Wakanda for the throne. The ritual is presided over by Zuri (Forest Whitaker), who we find out later in the film is the Wakandan spy King T'Chaka sent to spy on his brother. We meet W'Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya from Get Out) who decides not to challenge T'Challa for the throne, and all the other tribes decline as well, except for one. Now we are introduced to M'Baku (Winston Duke) who takes T'Challa up on the challenge. T'Challa has to drink a potion to remove his super Black Panther powers so that the fight is fair, normal human to normal human. Even though M'Baku is huge and this is not a fair fight T'Challa still defeats him and he is now officially king.
So everything is great; T'Challa drinks a concoction made from a special flower that grows in the Vibranium-laced soil called the heart-shaped herb. This is what gives him his Super powers of strength, speed, and instinct. He is then buried in red sand and he enters a dream state. Here is where Coogler opens another can of worms when T'Challa goes into the Dream World, and sees his now deceased father King T'Chaka (John Kani) that died during Captain America Civil War. T'Chaka talks to T'Challa and reveals to the audience that he is now one of many Black Panthers that have protected Wakanda for generations. And we in the audience are now left to realize that Wakanda has been hidden for 100's of years so not only has Wakanda had the resources, weapons, and power to come and rescue their African American brethren in 1992 and didn't. But they could have come and rescued them sometime after slavery but before the atrocities that occurred during the Civil rights movement!!! So great Coogler's message is Africans don't care about African Americans.
Mind you this is all in the first 30 minutes of the film that we see all the stereotypical nonsense usually in Blaxploitation films. But now we get the added bonus of an African King not giving a crap about the Slaves taken or TRADED from Africa and sent to America!!! Great job Disney and Coogler, thousands of young impressionable Black youth being let out of school to see your movie, and you decided to plant all these subliminal seeds of Black poverty and descent in their heads. These scenes to me are reminiscent of the teachings of Willie Lynch and Jim Crow era laws. Plus, we are graced with this outdated relic of a lip plate in the mouth of the Water Tribe Elder (Isaach de Bankolé). I was going to see a comic book movie about the height of Black Science and Technology, but instead I'm seeing a National Geographic documentary...this was completely unnecessary.
So lets fast forward to today where we meet our true hero of this film, Erik Killmonger all grown-up, played fabulously by Michael B. Jordan (Creed). No offense to Chadwick Boseman, who did a fantastic job as Black Panther as well. It’s not his fault that Marvel Studios was bought by the racist company Disney. Who not only waited YEARS to have a Black Disney Princess, but thought it was a great time to go multi-cultural and have her prince that saves the day be Hispanic??? A Black Princess can't have a Black Prince? And while I'm on this subject why was her story set in New Orleans during a time with a lot of racism, Voodoo, and buffoonish Black stereotypes???? But I digress. Coogler either has never really read the Black Panther comic or he doesn't like African-Americans very much. Because he LITERALLY changed the story line to put so many elements in this film that yells super rich Africans can care less about what happens in the Black community in America. So just like every other Black male in America, I guess, Killmonger grows up on the streets, educates himself to a acceptable level, joins the CIA and becomes one of their top operatives, specializing in toppling governments. He hones his body and fighting skills all for the day that he can go to Wakanda and fight for the throne. In my opinion Coogler fails to make Killmonger into a true villain, he is mean and rough around the edges. But he doesn't come across as evil, but rather conflicted. And his goal is righteous to become king so he can gain the power, weapons, and resources to liberate all Blacks from around the world that are being oppressed.
Killmonger has allied with Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) one of the few White men to make it into and out of Wakanda with stolen Vibranium. During a museum raid that he perpetrated with Klaue, the Vibranium artifact that they stole comes up on Wakanda's radar. So we now get to see T'Challa go on his first mission as king. He of course is accompanied by Okoye, and Nakia and they all go under cover to a casino to catch Klaue. Nakia uses some impressive Korean to gain entry into this underground Casino. Of course a fight ensues and we get to see some impressive moves from Okoye. And a great statement from her shedding her wig and using it to distract a henchman by throwing it in his face, revealing her true "Natural". Klaue manages to escape T'Challa's grasp by using a hidden sonic Vibranium weapon hid in his prosthetic arm. So now we get to she Shuri's technology at work as she remotely drives a car in Korea, from Wakanda, using a device that Okoye threw onto the hood of a random car. Plus we get to see Black Panther use the nanite energy storage ability of his armor to destroy a car that's chasing him. And there is another great scene in this sequence when Okoye and Nakia's car is destroyed by Klaue and Nakia is left sitting in the driver seat with no car sliding down a hill, and Okoye uses her spear to slide to safety on the car door that was blown off the car. Our hero Black Panther manages to capture claw but has to take him to CIA headquarters because Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) the token White CIA agent that was at the casino. "Tells" T'Challa to stand down because he is out of his jurisdiction and Klaue will be prosecuted in America. I guess a basic White CIA agent Trumps a king, so Everett gets his way and gets to interrogate Klaue first. And of course Klaue tells Everett about the Vibranium and Wakanda's secret. But before Everett can grill T'Challa about Klaue's confession Killmonger blows a hole in the wall and manages to liberate the captured Klaue from T'Challa. During the break out Killmonger also injures the spine of Everett, who is shot while shielding Nakia from gunfire, Everett now has to go to Wakanda against the rules so that T'Challa's sister can fix his spine with Wakandan technology. After going through all the trouble rescuing Klaue, Killmonger steals T'Challa's thunder by killing Klaue and presenting his body to W'Kabi to gain his favor and support. Now even though Killmonger has done a lot of bad things to make it to his homeland of Wakanda—like he reveals that each of the wounds on his body is a person he has killed either for the CIA or for his own personal goals—he still wants to make sure that when he challenges T'Challa, which is his birthright, that everything is done correctly according to tradition.
Erik approaches the counsel, with W'Kabi and makes the formal request to fight for the throne and T'Challa accepts. To make a long story short Killmonger defeats Black Panther easily and throws him over a cliff, but right before that he avenges his Father’s death by killing Zuri because he caused his Father to be killed in the first place. Hooray Killmonger is King as per the rules of fair combat, and he sets his plans in motion to give Vibranium weapons and technology to all oppressed Black people all over the world. He is the rightful King, so the Dora Milaje, Okoye’s soldiers all fall in line, everyone bows to the new powerful King.....roll credits. Just kidding that's not the end of the movie that would be too fair.
So after T'Challa's defeat Queen Ramonda, his sister Shuri, T'Challa's love interest Nakia, and token White CIA agent Ross take off to the mountains to hatch a deceitful plan to take one of the magic flowers that Nakia stole, to give it to the rival tribe leader, M’Baku to make him the new Black Panther. Now even though in the comics he's known as the Man-Ape ,they left that out, but they still had this fool actually grunting like a gorilla. He had to silence the "White man" who shouldn't be in Wakanda in the first place and his whole tribe of warriors also grunted like gorillas in unison. Which I'm sorry has no one told the director that Black people acting like Gorillas is just a tad racist??? Any way Gorilla man has T'Challa's body on Ice (literally), informing them a fisherman found him in the water barely alive.
They give T'Challa the heart shaped herb flower and he goes back into the dream world and is approached by King T'Chaka and all the previous Black Panthers. T'Challa is like, “Dad what the hell, you killed my Uncle? So now my cousin Erik just whooped my butt and I'm not King anymore.” T'Chaka was like, “it’s okay son, now it’s time for you to rest”…??? Basically, he's saying stay dead and let Killmonger remain king, it’s out of your hands. T'Challa says: “No I must right your wrongs!” So he comes out of the coma, full power, healed by the magic flower and ready to steal his throne back. He asks M'Baku to help him fight. He of course, says no, but agrees to watch over his mother while T'Challa goes to take back the throne. T'Challa puts on his costume, and Nakia and Shuri gear up and are ready to go and fight the rightful King of Wakanda, Killmonger. Shuri dons these sonic blasters shaped like the head of a Panther that she used her technological skills to make, while Nakia goes for a more traditional weapon and dons the armor of the Dora Milaje. Shuri also sets up Everett (the token white boy) in a fighter craft simulator and asks him to fly it since he of course was a pilot. His job is to shoot down the 4 planes leaving Wakanda loaded with weapons that will liberate Blacks from all over the world. So of course a White fighter pilot getting in Wakandan technology for the first time is better than 4 Black pilots that have been flying all their careers. Plus these weapons have to be kept out of the Blacks hands so who better than a White pilot to save ‘Merica??? How about Black Falcon who is also a pilot and just met T'Challa in the previous movie? Or what about War Machine another Black Pilot that could have been in Wakanda anyway getting his spine fixed since it also was damaged in Captain America Civil War? Would that have not made more sense than injuring Everett to move the plot along to get him to Wakanda? Does Shuri only work on "White Boys" per her line "Great, another White boy to fix"? Remember she fixed Bucky who lost his arm in Captain America Civil War (stay for the closing credits) a brother can't get on an operating table in Wakanda? Great writing Coogler and good job Disney for keeping this movie from having an all-star Black cast and actually promoting positive interactions between Africans and Black Americans.
T'Challa approaches Killmonger and proclaims he is not dead and he didn't yield so the challenge is not over yet. Killmonger is like “Nah Bruh,” and orders his people to attack. But Okoye with a crisis of conscious decides to help T'Challa even though she vowed not to oppose Killmonger in an earlier discussion with Nakia when they were escaping after the ritual. And we get our fist look at the Killmonger's Golden Jaguar armor which has the same technology as T'Challa's armor but glows gold, while T'Challa's glows purple. So now we basically have the boys against the girls, which by the way if you haven't noticed that Black Panther is surrounded primarily by women warriors, scientists, and counsel, are the Black men in Wakanda useless? There is a lot of emasculation of the Black male in this movie, because the elite guard of women which is a much smaller force is holding their own against a larger, male force. Not to mention, Okoye and three of her warriors are fighting Killmonger and holding their own for the most part. T'Challa is busy fighting all of W'Kabi's men trying to get to Killmonger to help the women. W'Kabi was even forced to call out these cheesy armored rhinos to help because the women warriors were kicking their butt. And did I mention that Okoye and W'Kabi are actually married? So now we have the Black women taking her man down a notch by defeating him in Battle and even turns his pet Rhino against him. So more Willie Lynch teachings in the film and a whole lot of emasculation of the Black man in this film....Check!!! One redeeming thing though in this battle is M'Baku decides to come in at the last moment with his other apes and they help take down W'Kabi. So now its left up to Everett to shoot down all the planes and Black Panther and Golden Jaguar have finally reached each other and now our final battle is on.
The final battle is pretty standard for a Marvel Comic movie but like I said, earlier Disney had to put its two cents into the fight. T'Challa is still out-classed by Killmonger and is yet again going to lose the fight. So, he once again has to cheat and enlist the help of Shuri, by getting her to activate the sonic dampers on the train to deactivate both of their suits. Which I guess in essence activating the sonic dampers levels the playing field, but Killmonger is not familiar with the technology so it is a disadvantage for him. So once again we see emasculation that we don't see with Batman or Ironman. They seem to invent their own gear, think for themselves, and don't need a team of women hen-pecking their every decision, or flying in to save them all the time. T'Challa ultimately defeats Killmonger by putting a spear through his heart when the suit is weakened by the dampers. Thus repeating the same mistake of his father of killing his own family member....even though he said he wanted to right his father’s wrongs. But now it’s more like he wanted to finish the job his father started by wiping out the N'Jobu/Killmonger bloodline.
With Killmonger dying and humbled by T'Challa, the villain becomes human again and thinks about his father and never seeing the Wakandan sunset. T'Challa showing him mercy, picks him up and helps him walk to an elevator and they ascend to a majestic view of Wakanda and the setting sun. So now we do get to see one of the best scenes in the film and once again Michael B. Jordan steals the scene from Chadwick by delivering a line only a HERO could deliver. T'Challa offers to heal Killmonger and Erik says:
"Heal me why so you can lock me up? Nah, bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships. They knew that death was better than bondage."
Overall it was a good movie, I just don't like the political aspects that they added to this story. It was not necessary to make this movie into Boys in the Hood meets Shaka Zulu. Coogler changed the story line especially concerning Killmonger, whom like I said earlier, this movie was actually about. The opening sequence is not T'Challa being told the story by T'Chaka, its little Erik being told the story by his father N'Jobu. You see the murder that created Killmonger, similar to the murder of Batman's parents that created him. This movie should have been Coming to America meets Batman in my opinion and that would have elevated Black Cinema beyond its current level of "more of the same". And people keep saying this is the first time we have had a Black Superhero in a film, and that's INCORRECT!!!! Go back and watch Blade, that's not only the first good Marvel movie ever made, the Blade character is the first BLACK superhero made with current movie technology. The only difference was that the main character wasn't billed as a Blackity, Black, Black, Black Superhero, he was just Blade. And he kicked White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian Vampire butt all the same. He had a White male sidekick Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) and Black male and female support people like the Doctor, Karen (N'Bushe Wright) that kept him supplied with serum and gear. The reason why Blade is a much better movie than Black Panther is because they left out the political BS and just tried to entertain us. I have seen Blade about 30 times, I will not see Black Panther nowhere near that much. And speaking of Black Superheros we also forgot about Bruce Leroy in the Last Dragon and this was back even further than Blade. How is it that these two older movies that featured Black actors had less racial undertones and more racial unity? Are we moving backwards in race relations Black people, and if so who's at fault? I bit my tongue for about two weeks to allow everyone a chance to experience this movie on their own. And I do want people to go see this movie to SUPPORT Black Cinema, but that doesn't mean we can't complain. The squeaky wheel gets the grease...in other words if we don't call Disney on their bullshit they won't fix these things in other Black films. So you may not agree with my review, but can you honestly say you don't see any of my points?