I received all the feels this past weekend, after viewing the Wakandan nation not one, but two times!
First off, let’s get a few things out of the way:
Yes the men were beautiful beings of GOD
Yes the women were STRONG gorgeous creatures of the universe
Yes the casts’ complexions were dark and lovely
Yes the Wakandan soil was rich and resourceful
Yes the technology was to infinity….and Beyond!
Yes the Wakandan city was magnificent and culturally sound
Yes the Wakandan world was all we hoped and dreamed Africa could be…especially if we were all still there.
But I must address the anti-protagonist in this film, Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger.
I am a big superhero movie fan, and I hold them to high standards. However, through all of these films, one villain has made his way to the top of my list…many of you might agree. Heath Ledger as the Joker in one of the best films ever created: The Dark Knight. (I also LOVED the villain(s) in The Dark Knight Rises, but we can discuss him and her another time)
Heath Ledger set the precedent for a villain who, in my opinion, outranks all others in superhero society. Mainly because he is as unselfish as he is unkind. He is as brilliant as he is deranged. And in all his “evil-doings” he simply wants chaos. An unhinged world. A lack of structure or order, so that everyone can be exactly who they are.
Don’t get me wrong, the Joker was crazy as ever. I probably wouldn’t make it in the Joker’s world. But he romanticized the term “villain” for me, in a way that I would have never considered before. He was just that good at being bad.
I had a poster of the Joker hanging over my bed in college, so he was the last thing I’d see at night. I had his picture as my lock screen on my phone, and the background of my laptop. I had the theme music as a ringtone, and his deranged laugh woke me up every morning as my alarm. I loved him. Or at the very least, I loved Heath Ledger playing him.
So when it came to Black Panther, I was already excited after hearing an interview where Ryan Coogler stated that when creating the film, he wanted a villain comparable to that of Heath Ledger’s Joker.
But when I saw Black Panther, in all its unmitigated glory, I was confronted with yet another villain (or anti-protagonist), that I was not ashamed to love. That I am not skeptical in romanticizing. That I respect above all others, and that if given the chance, I believe I can survive in his world.
He represented Nat Turner. He represented Malcolm X (part 1). He represented Marcus Garvey. James Baldwin. The list goes on.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not for killing everybody and their children, let’s not get petty. But I am for liberating myself and my people.
Every descendant of slaves, whether they admit it or not, has had the thought or dream of home. Knowing exactly where they came from, where their bloodlines originated, where their families truly began; these are questions we tend to ask ourselves. I know I have. And after Coogler coined us, the “Lost Tribe,” in that same Hot 97 interview, I felt that yearning once again to know where home was.
Jordan, a.k.a. Killmonger was a member of our “Lost Tribe.” Someone of African descent, whose true identity was lost and forgotten by his own people. He lived our daily struggle. Seen our current circumstance. Felt our sense of longing, and despite his faults, wanted to fight for us. He wanted to make a difference. He wanted to change our world. And it is for these reasons, that I found another “villain” to idolize and admire.
Yeah, it was nice to have a worthy “enemy” to elevate the main protagonist. But am I wrong for considering a darker “hero” who, for once in my life, was actually looking out for ME?
Favorite Character: Okoye (played by Danai Gurira)
Favorite Action Scene: Okoye spearing a moving car into oblivion, while atop of another moving car, while wearing a gorgeous red dress flowing in the wind behind her. Talk about Badass.
Favorite Funny Moment: Every moment Shuri (played by Letitia Wright) spent showing her brother, T’Challa (played by Chadwick Boseman), her newest inventions in her lab.
Favorite Serious Moment: Erik Killmonger (played by Michael B. Jordan) speaking to his father, N’Jobu (played by Sterling K. Brown) during his visit to the “American hood” version of the ancestral plane.
Favorite Funny Quote: “Are you Done? Are you Finished” -M’Baku (played by Winston Duke)
Favorite Serious Quote: “Bury me in the ocean, with my ancestors who jumped from the ships, because they knew death was better than bondage.” -Erik Killmonger