I watched Black Panther over the weekend. And OF COURSE I was going to make a little T’Challa. I worried when Wonder Woman came out because DC had a poor movie track record, and if Wonder Woman failed it’d be a huge setback socially speaking. But I didn’t worry for Black Panther, and that faith that Marvel would do things right was solidified again.
King T’Challa, The Black Panther, Protector of Wakanda and the world.
I’ll be honest, I can’t say I’m 100% happy with little T’Challa, but eh, it’ll do. It’s difficult to replicate all the subtle details on the Black Panther suit with yarn, and there aren’t as many silver contrast details on the new suit for me to work with compared to the original Black Panther suit we saw in Captain America: Civil War. I cheated a little and added some extra here and there, but it wasn’t technically movie accurate.
Of course King T’Challa was the main protagonist of the movie, but there’s one character who overshadowed his royal highness for me:
ALL HAIL PRINCESS SHURI.
Can we talk about how awesome Shuri is for a moment here? Now THAT’S a princess I can get behind. She was smart, sassy, and wasn’t afraid to put up a fight. The fact that she’s the brains behind all of Wakanda’s tech made me love her so freaking much, because that kind of imagery is so important when it comes to showing these types of characters to a young audience. Growing up if a movie or TV show had a “brains” character, that person was invariably 1) a dude, and 2) the nerdy uncool dude. It gave us kids the impression that being smart wasn’t cool, and you’d always play second fiddle to the brawn of the group. Tony Stark has been a pretty good character to make science nerds look suave, but Shuri is the fun female science geek that I wish I had around as a kid. And on top of that, Shuri was smart for the sake of just being smart! There was no need for her to one-up a team of male scientists, there was no need to her to struggle against people underestimating her because she’s a girl. The movie didn’t feel the need to throw in some sort of boys vs. girls conflict to make a point…she was allowed to be a smart techie geek simply because she was good at what she did, and people trusted her expertise. If Shuri can inspire more little girls (or hell, grown-ass women) to get into science and tech, then HELL TO THE YES let’s get more of her out there. I’m hoping SO badly that we’ll see some friendly techy banter between her and Peter Parker and Tony Stark in Infinity Wars.
I also loved her costume design. Actually I just loved the costume design on just about everyone, period. So many little details.
Otherwise my spoiler-y thoughts on the movie coming in 3….
AHOY, THERE BE SPOILERS!!
- Wakanda looked AMAZING. I wasn’t sure how they were going to pull off fusing what was supposed to be the most advanced technology on earth while maintaining traditional aspects because Wakanda had never been colonized, but holy hell they made it work. Gorgeous visuals with lots of glowy vibranium and fancy gleaming towers among colorful traditionally patterned textiles. I love how even the street hawkers had nifty handheld holograms to sell their wares, as if that was just a baseline piece of equipment everyone had. So freaking cool.
- Speaking of traditional African aesthetics, THIS GUY:
I remember reading about tribal lip plates as a kid in kiddie science magazines (my parents started me young on the nerdiness), but DAMN they made this guy look so freaking cool with it. I don’t care that the plate itself was CGI’d, this man managed to 1) rock a teal suit and look damn good in it, and 2) GOT A MATCHING LIP PLATE AND ROCKED THAT TOO. He looked straight up pimpin’ in this.
- More on Shuri: I love how she didn’t give af and straight up interrupted T’Challa’s coronation to be all like “look, can we just crown him already so I can get this stupid corset off and then we can party? kthx.” Actually I just love how she doesn’t give af about T’Challa’s status as king, period, because to her he’s still her big brother and she’ll still give him hell at every opportunity possible, throne be damned.
- SHURI’S SNEAKERS PUN. YES. Also she gave T’Challa shit for his sandals while also chiding him for having open-toed shoes in her lab, YES LAB SAFETY.
- Main criticism: this was one movie where I felt like there weren’t too many big surprises. Movie plot was pretty straightforward and predictable (come on, no one was buying the whole “OMG HE DIED” thing) and just about everything you needed to know was in the trailers.
- Killmonger’s cheeky “Hey Auntie.” Ohhhh you ridiculously good-looking, charming, irreverent bastard.
- Nice to see Andy Serkis as himself for once!
- Another small criticism: I thought it was kind of corny how after the big fight between T’Challa and Killmonger, Killmonger was suddenly all cool with T’Challa (okay, maybe resigned is a better word), and quietly made his exit on a cliff to a sunset. Killmonger bursted onto the scene with so much anger and rage, and his character was built up to be the type to never let anything get in his way of what he wanted (he shot his own girlfriend!), so it seemed out of character that he’d take a beatdown and would suddenly be like “welp, I guess this is the end.” But I get that it’s a superhero movie, and that Marvel has never been in the business of having gritty, bitter ends to these types of things. And while it was cliche, I liked that they showcased T’Challa’s sense of compassion and forgiveness by insisting that he could still save Killmonger, and when he refused, allowed him to die peacefully while watching the sunset that he’d only dreamed of as a child. Nice way to bring things back around to the whole “You are a good man, with a good heart. And it’s hard for a good man to be a king” line from Civil War.
- I loved how well-rounded Okoye’s character was. Black Panther wasn’t just a great movie for ethnic representation, it was great for representation of women as well. She was a warrior, but she wasn’t a mindless killing machine. She had a sense of humor, she had compassion, she felt conflict when she knew her duty was to the throne but she couldn’t stand behind the new king. And GODDAMN does Danai Gurira rock a shaved head. The only minor criticism I have (and it truly is minor) is that I felt like her relationship with W’Kabi was pretty much unnecessary. I guess they wanted to round her out by showing that the Dora Milaje can still maintain romantic relationships while being some of the strongest warriors in the world, but it felt like they just kind of threw it in as if to mark off a checkbox. Who knows, maybe there was more footage of their relationship and it got cut, but I felt like they did plenty to show Okoye’s humanity without having to throw in a barely-there boyfriend/husband.
- Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger. Ohhhhhhh mama. I watched him as scrawny little Wallace on The Wire recently and seeing him on the big screen with so much swagger…hell, just give the man the throne, he marched in like he owned the place. Fantastic villain with a good conflicted backstory. He also had some of the deepest lines in the movie, which is significant for a Marvel film, where they’re usually easy-peasy superhero flicks. His final line about the ocean drove a big message home, but the line that struck me more was when he said “Can you believe that? A kid from Oakland walking around, believing in fairytales.” Something about that hit me so much more because it speaks to a stark reality that’s around us every day. Killmonger’s fairytale was Wakanda, but the fairytale for other disadvantaged kids could be as simple as graduating from high school, or just being able to have a life where they can have three square meals a day. It’s not every day that a superhero movie goes beyond the good guy-bad guy story.
At any rate, both of the royal Wakandan siblings will be up for grabs at Comic-Con this year! As per usual, find them and they’re yours to keep!
If you want to join my hunt for crocheted critters at San Diego Comic-Con this year, follow me on either twitter or facebook to track my drops! I just ask for two things if you find a critter: 1) Send me a photo of your new friend! 2) Let me know where the little buddy’s new home will be! Good luck, and happy hunting!