starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Andy Serkis
written by Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole
directed by Ryan Coogler
by Walter Chaw There are issues Black Panther raises that I'm not equipped to discuss. I don't understand them. I do understand that its closest analogues are Wonder Woman and Rogue One, in that these are deeply-flawed films that, for particular audiences, hold a near-totemic value as representative artifacts. I can't possibly express the joy and immense satisfaction I felt seeing Asian faces in a Star Wars film. I can't possibly share in the same joy and sense of satisfaction that women got from Wonder Woman and that African-Americans will likely experience with Black Panther. They are all three films that you only really dislike from a position of privilege, and such is the conundrum of our current discourse. I will say that there are a handful of scenes in Black Panther that are as powerful statements of racial outrage as anything I've ever seen in mainstream cinema--that is, in a film that is not otherwise directly about slavery and the African-American experience. During its prologue/creation myth, I gasped at a scene of slaves, chained together, being led onto a slaver's galley. There are moments so bold (if not reductive) that they're genuinely breathtaking in their audacious impoliteness. Bold enough that some of my more conservative peers left the screening soon after a particular pronouncement about the legacy of slavery poisoning race relations into the modern day. At the end of it, a character proclaims they'd rather die than live in chains. It couldn't get balder than that, nor more revolutionary. Yeah, man.