We’ll knock out the simple stuff first:
It is a Marvel movie. There is nothing special about how it was filmed. I totally understand if you don’t like it at face value. I didn’t, either. To this day I still have no damn idea why Martin Freeman was in that movie. What even did he really do at any point in time? Tell me. PLZ.
Gender roles: Can we all agree that Black Panther did a better job than Wonder Woman with proving how strong women can be? WW is just on an island of superhuman women. It is a female dominant society. BP not only shows women as equal rulers of nations, but as the constant guard of the king. While the ruler has ultimate rule, even Okoye knew when to disobey the throne and was greatly respected for it. They are viewed as a threat to those who threaten and an impenetrable, spikey wall to those whom they protect. The gods did not GIVE them any power. They took it, damn it! Also, by the rules of the challenge, even a female may be ruler of Wakanda.
I’m knocking race out of this. We already get that point. Everyone else made that point. The film does a great job of keeping it at the forefront of situations and dialogue. Don’t pat yourself on the back for noticing that. Stop it. Now.
The post focuses strictly on the information and situations provided within the film. No comics.
Now, let’s get to your feature presentation…
Black Panther: The Fog of Traditions
The movie contains 3 hosts, each with the burden of carrying a tradition. The purpose of this post is to observe the three cornerstones that are M’Baku, T’Challa, and Killmonger, discuss their stances, state the weakness of their view, and quickly say why M’Baku and Nakia are the best two characters in the film. Because they are. T'Challa sucks.
Hold on to your butts
M’Baku is the leader of the Jabari Tribe. This tribe strictly adheres to ancient traditions dated before the use of technological advancements beyond fire and whatever was used to carve a giant ape in the side of a mountain (maybe more fire? I don’t know. Never carved anything into a mountain before.). The Jabari are the Black Sheep because of this decision. Not only do they choose to live in the past, but M’Baku states his displeasure at how much Wakanda relies on their technology for everything.
T’Challa is son to the late monarch of Wakanda, T’Chaka, who represent the tradition of science (Vibranium technology) being an absolute answer and answer to all questions or grievances. In fact, by their actions and statements it seems as though all of the remaining tribes fall in line with this ideal. They don’t believe in the tradition of “tradition” and, with their fervency, have created a new one that blinds them to all else. Additionally, this includes the selfish idea that their technology should only benefit them.
Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (a.k.a N’Jadaka) is the son of late Prince N’Jobu and was involuntarily and secretly “omitted” as a Wakandan by his father’s murderer, T’Chaka, who left young Erik to just… Do whatever. Good luck, kid! His vehemently violent beliefs are in the tradition of war being the ultimate answer to all, particularly as a means of pacivity (or equality?) on local and global economic levels. Big war, small war, street fights, the public pool; war.
From face value, everyone’s views come across as short-sighted.
Let’s stir the names up
Killmonger’s observation about the world catching up to Wakanda is not wrong. With a big name like Tony Stark and events in The Avengers, it’s obvious they won’t have the advantage much longer. But his sheer focus on creating that reality through destruction is… destructive. To self.
T’Chaka was a shitty guide so T’Challa’s similar direction was destined to fail. He didn’t learn his lesson until the screenwriters decided it would be a good time to hit the climax. Kids, amirit?
These two had tunnel vision riding a bullet train straight into the Great Wall of China.
M’Baku. My man! M’Baku wasn’t so invested in tradition that he was blinded. He stood aside, watched, observed, and took note. Even when given the opportunity to become the next Black Panther he respectfully turned it down, knowing with whom that mantle belonged. His job as tribe ruler was to be a (the only unbiased) voice to a blind king. He knew where he fit in the 5-piece puzzle. While he presents himself as a brash thug who holds on to otherwise dead ideology, his actions all show that he is ridiculously intelligent in both politics, war, and the need for progression.
Lastly, Nakia. Bless her heart. The 5 tribes were so caught up in their own, tiny world that they forgot the rest of the world existed. Killmonger shattered everyone’s decades-long dream in an instant. All the while, Nakia has been telling everyone “The outside world is there, guys. Maybe we should do something? I dunno just an idea.” this whole dang time. In the end, rather than agreeing to “settle” to a newly founded tradition, she just wanted to help the world and see it change first hand. She wanted to be in it again to constantly have that new experience; so she could be on top of the game. Nobody ostracizes her, but it never seemed like anyone ever truly appreciated her approach despite HAVING THEIR ENTIRE EMPIRE TAKEN DOWN BY A PSYCHO. You go, girl. You don’t need no man.
The movie and this post remind me of a great verbal trade in James Bond: Skyfall.
Q: Age is no guarantee of efficiency.
James Bond: And youth is no guarantee of innovation.