Intro to BLACK PANTHER Review: Power to the (Cat) People

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I’ll admit it. I’ve spent my entire life automatically filing superhero movies into the bucket of “Things That Make You Go Hmmmm…..”, as in, “Hmmmm…I fail to see the appeal of watching this”. But if any comic-book-based movie has the [super]power to change my mind, it’s Black Panther – the Marvel franchise film that opened in theaters last week. It’s the blockbuster movie that basically everyone who doesn’t live under a rock is talking about, so here’s what you need to know to hold your own when it inevitably comes up in water cooler conversation sometime in the next week (if it hasn’t already).

By all accounts, Black Panther is a game-changer, presenting a deliberately complex statement about our understanding of the world around us. From a factual standpoint, Black Panther is noteworthy because it is the first movie of its kind to feature a multidimensional black superhero, a predominantly black cast and a fictional African utopia. What makes Black Panther truly groundbreaking, however, is its fearless messaging about race, politics, society, and power woven throughout the story.

Critics have made it clear that Black Panther does not shy away from symbolism, and many reviews mention scenes in the movie that bear clear parallels to the current US political and social climate. Gloriously, this film also challenges the audience to uproot their assumptions about the way that race and gender dynamics are expected to play out on screen. Remember when Hollywood storylines were held hostage by narrow-minded presumptions dictating who was worthy of being a movie protagonist? Me too! …and I’m glad that idiotic phenomenon is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

Since female empowerment is kind of our thing here at LABG, I’d like to mention that Black Panther was shot by Rachel Morrison, the first-ever female cinematographer to be nominated for an Oscar (in Jan. 2018) out of 90 YEARS of ceremonies (uhhh…well done, members of the Academy…). The nomination was for her work on the Netflix drama Mudbound, but given the response to Black Panther, it seems like there are very good odds of more Oscar nods on her way.

In conclusion, after reading about 35 reviews and news articles on Black Panther while writing this ~350 word article (you would never know by reading this…#SAD), I would like to announce that I am now officially on board with this movie. You heard me correctly – Black Panther is going to be the FIRST superhero movie I’ve ever watched by my own free will!!!

How’s that for a movie recommendation?! …Ok fine. Next time I’ll watch the movie first.

But don’t worry! You can read this incredible full review of Black Panther written by LABG guest contributor Leslie Combemale of CinemaSiren.

 

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