The Fantasy That is Black Panther
Black Panther just broke the $1,000,000,000 world-wide box office, and people are loving it. It is an incredible visual achievement that has a ton of heart, and eye popping action sequences. But director Ryan Coogler has embodied it with a much more stark message about the world than you might see at first glance. The world in which it fantasizes about.
With any superhero movie, the joy of the audience can be derived from the wish that they too had the superpower that the lead character has. We want to swing on webs like Spiderman, fly through the air and stop bullets like Superman, or be super rich and have tons of gadgets to fight crime with like Batman. But the fantasy of Black Panther is much more poignant. In the film, the nation of Wakanda is shown to be an uncolonized paradise, fueled by a hidden mountain of a precious medal, that has been shielded from the outside world and never forced under the boot heel of the white man by being colonized. It has been allowed to flourish on it’s own and has done so with incredible vigor.
At the conclusion of the film, the nation decides to step out of the shadows and offer aide and assistance to the rest of the world, starting specifically in a poor neighborhood in Oakland, CA and then at the United Nations. And while this is awesome, and a comment on the western world’s quick dismissal of what Africa has to offer, it’s also heartbreakingly sad. That there ISN’T a country untouched by colonization, outsiders, and war is all the more sad by comparison to this fantasy. It’s sad we can’t fly or swing on webs, but how much sadder still is it that this reasonable, worthy and wonderful culture doesn’t exist, and isn’t there to do the good that Wakanda is shown to be doing at the end of the movie.
What are your thoughts?