Black Panther was amazing. I loved every fucking frame. I can’t be objective and I know it. This for me was close to what how I felt when Luke Cage came out two years ago. That was a gritty view of life in a place I have never lived and hope to never live in but, what it spoke about was what it is to live in fear as a black man and that’s something I know all too well.
There’s something about these two properties that even though they are Marvel properties they portray a measure of the problems I face as a black man moving throughout the world. Black Panther is so black but, it not only that it speaks to colonization what that means and how it has and still does affect the world around it. Luke Cage talks about the Black Community and what it does and doesn’t do for its people. These things pieces of media hit me so hard and I know they didn’t do it for everyone else but, for a black man living in a mostly white suburb, it finally feels like we’ve arrived.
Luke Cage is someone I envy. Someone who doesn’t have to fear the cops or radicals. A man who can protect his home and his life with his own strength. With Charlottesville happening so close to home the idea of homegrown Nazi became a reality I didn’t think I’d have to face in 2018. Yes, I knew racists existed but, people who finally felt free to congregate and march in the open I didn’t know that was the world we were living in. Of course, the man is jacked and he’s definitely a ladykiller but, he’s also loyal to his friends and he looks out for the little guy and that’s what makes him a hero.
There’s a wonderful scene in the Netflix show where he’s getting back all the things for the Harlem community. They just walk up to his door and he does what he can to help them. The same can be said for the women who owns the apartment he has over the Chinese food shop he doesn’t hesitate to throw himself in the way of RPG careening through her storefront window. He does what he does for his community.
In Defenders, during the second episode LC and Claire were helping out after the earthquake and he quotes her saying “If we don’t take responsibility for our neighborhood, no one else will.” They’re both going block by block he’s removing chunks of buildings off cars and she’s treating the wounded. Luke Cage is all about community and that hits home.
For me, there are a ton of injustices I would love to be able to do something about without having to put a vote in a machine and hope the rest of the country agrees with me. This might be a little vain but, I’ve always wanted to be hero helping people less fortunate than myself.
So why Luke Cage and why not Superman: Luke Cage has a code of law, he doesn’t do what he does for free. It might seem unfair but, it’s realistic. His name, place of business, and the names of his family members are all public knowledge he has something he needs to protect and life to keep up. Superman hides his identity because his human life is more important to those around him. Supes is strong enough to protect everyone in his life and still live whatever life he wants to but, his anonymity is something very important to him. Luke Cage has decided to be a part of the community and takes part in its everyday struggles as well as go out and save the world.
Black Panther is the man of the hour right now and as we all talk about #WakandaForever and how black the movie is I don’t want to lose sight of why BP is as excellent a character as he is. He is accomplished, having multiple degrees from the best colleges from all over the world. One of the richest men in all the world. He has spies in every country and weapons that would make every 2nd Amendment guns rights activist and Nuclear Dictator shit their collective pants. Simply put he has the biggest toys and he knows how to use them. He’s Ben Kenobi (secret Jedi warrior), Liam Neeson (in practically all of his movies), and actually good spy so not James Bond…
“So BP has all the toys, what else?” you ask? Black Panther and Wakanda represent a future we would like to have for ourselves way too much. It’s been expressed over a hundred times as everyone pretends they don’t know why Black people are so in love with the movie. Black Panther is a king which in it of itself is enviable but when you match that with the fact that it’s of a country that was never touched by colonialism and his people were never enslaved you hit a whole new level of awesome. T’challa has never had to even consider the feelings of white men, colonizers as they’re called in the film. He doesn’t care that they think of him the king of some tribe of farmers in the middle of Africa because he knows inside that he’s more and that confidence is something that draws the eye in every scene he’s in.
So why not Batman: Forgoing the option of bringing up yet again the idea of secret identities… it’s easy to say that Bruce Wayne is the mask and Batman is the true identity. But moving on Black Panther in the movie it the prototypical good son. He’s always respectful, never raises his voice, even-tempered, and patient. In the comics he’s a different person almost entirely he’s passionate, brash, prideful but, remains one of the smartest men in the Marvel universe. The reason I would choose Black Panther is he chooses to save the world out of a duty to his people and Batman does it because he can’t stop. Batman needs this. Black Panther has and will stop if it doesn’t affect his people.
In Civil War and in the Black Panther movie proper, he’s shown that he’s willing to understand the villain and hear him out. For the man who murdered his father and the man who stole his country, Black Panther shows a humility that is superhuman. Killmonger was a man who may have done horrible things he wasn’t completely wrong about what he wanted but, wrong about the way he went about it. His rage made him no different from those he was trying It hurt Black Panther to have him kill himself because he knew not only could this man be an asset to Wakanda but, he could probably offer valuable insight to the world at large that until now the people of Wakanda didn’t have.
PS. I’ve seen Black Panther three times in theatres I’ve never done that with any other movie. Even for things I like I can’t do repeat viewings but, I love this movie so much. I just want to give everyone who had anything to do with a big hug. Black Panther is a cultural phenomenon.