Welcome to PART II of my Black Panther movie review…In PART I, I explored the startling similarities between Wakanda and Haiti, as portrayed in Ryan Coogler’s film Black Panther, based on the Marvel Studios comics…
5. A kingdom can only thrive when it’s united. The disorder that threatens the existence of Wakanda when two kings (Chadwidck Boseman and Michael B. Jordan) vie for the throne is similar to a situation that existed in post-Revolution Haiti. Henri Christophe, a fighter and General in the Haitian Revolution, born outside of Haiti (Grenada) and Alexandre Petion, differed on their philosophy on how Haiti should run. Petion thought the key to Haiti’s success was to end the world-wide embargo by first getting recognition from France. Christophe thought setting up a fortress and fighting off France. Wakanda exists because the outside world doesn’t know its true power.
6. Erik Killmonger, the rival to the Black Panther’s throne, wants to use Wakanda to deliver people of color whom are oppressed all over the world. But the Black Panther/King T’Challa knows that if he were to adopt his nemesis’ plans, this would be the end of Wakanda. This somewhat parallels the dilemma faced by the fathers of the Haitian Revolution. Christophe stomped a would-be Haitian Revolution continuation in Jamaica, in order to stay on good terms with England (Jamaica being a British colony at the time). Both he and his predecessor Dessalines agreed not to take the Revolution in other parts of the islands and the United States of America. When Dessalines and his successors (Jean-Pierre Boyer, Faustin-Elie Soulouque) launched the immigration of Blacks from the United States to Haiti, scholar Leon D. Pamphile emphasizes how they didn’t try to recruit slaves but freedmen. To encourage slaves to leave to the United States for Haiti, would have threatened Haiti as a new nation, and put them at odds with the world’s biggest world powers at the time.
These are the similarities I noticed when watching Ryan Coogler’s film. So Wakanda is not quite Haiti, but it is Haiti…somewhat.
Black Panther is so unlike anything you’ll ever see on a big screen. I liked the light humor, though not the heavy violence (but this is a movie based on a comic strip, after all). I have to say that Klau the villain looked a bit familiar. I wondered in what other movie I had seen the actor playing him, and when I finally figured it out, I was in total awe of Andy Surkis and how he morphed himself into from comedian to ruthless villain.
And speaking of villains, I was really struck by the character M’Baku (Winston Duke). King T’Challa’s sole challenger for the throne of Wakanda, M’Baku is a fur-wearing, sickle-yielding kingdom warrior. Though he at first comes across as a divider, instigator, his much more noble side emerges later.
Actually, I was impressed by the entire cast, especially with Danai Gurira. There was just something about her, about how she played her role, and her overall screen presence. I thought Michael B. Jordan was Nick Cannon at first, and then I realized he wasn’t. What a performance though.
I loved how Black Panther tried to flip all the tables. Women among the village elders. Tribal marks not as decorations but as sources of identity and pride. Okoye’s rejection of long hair in that one scene in Busan, Korea, where she vows to return to baldness once the operation at hand is over. How Letitia Wright’s character is the scientific mastermind (and therefore operational genius, and therefore National Engineer) behind Wakanda. Again the power of the female community, though T’Challa is king, it’s Okoye who’s really running Wakanda. And we must not forget the bravery of Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), and her power as the one who makes The Black Panther/T’Challa’s little heart freeze.
Black Panther was short in Australia, Korea and Georgia. Wish a scene could have been filmed in some parts of Africa. But for a movie that’s black in every other aspect, I know that if on-location shots from Africa aren’t part of the film, it’s because massive redtape got in the way.
Did you miss PART I of my Black Panther movie review? CLICK HERE to read PART I of the Black Panther movie review.
Kreyolicious is the author of Haiti History 101: The Definitive Guide to Haitian History. CLICK HERE to get it from Amazon.