What I Learned From Black Panther (And No, It Has Nothing to Do with Comics)
This weekend may have been a busy one with the weather on the East Coast warming up, All Star Weekend on the West Coast, and the usual weekly dose of people in the culture acting up and me having to determine whether or not their card for the culture would be renewed or revoked, this weekend also marked the opening weekend of Marvel's Black Panther.
Black Panther has been on the top of many of our radar because of it's star-studded cast, its well-rounded and talented director Ryan Coogler, and Kendrick Lamar's cohesive curated soundtrack to accompany the film. If that didn't get you excited, then watching the movie itself had to have turned you into a fan.
While the movie was great--I plan on going to see it again cause I loved it so much--what I took away from the film was even more powerful. Trusting your gut. Never compromising your morals just for love. And being a "ride or die" isn't enough to sustain in a relationship. These things, and more are what I learned from Black Panther: and no, it has nothing to do with comics.
Trusting your gut.
Trust your gut. A simple and easy rule to apply to life, but one we often forget this when faced with stress, bumps in the road, and obstacles that seem to be in the way. Throughout the movie we see Nakia, played by Lupita Nyong'o, trust her gut and believe in what she feels is right. Nakia is faced with a dilemma, one that appears in the beginning and end of the movie, yet she still stays true to who she is, what she believes, and at the end her gut leads to tremendous change in Wakanda. Will we see Nakia's gut guide T'Challa in a sequel? Maybe.
Just because you don't agree doesn't mean you can't learn something.
Whether between T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), or T'Challa and M'Baku (Winston Duke), or T'Challa and basically anyone he has interactions with in the movie, we see the characters learn something from their differences. Differences in culture, customs, or even perspectives, Black Panther teaches us agreeing to disagree is fine but communication is crucial. You don't have to change your position completely, but there might be something you can take away from conversations.
Never compromise your morals for love.
Okoye and W'Kabi. One of the few love stories we see in the movie and one that melts all of our hearts. The relationship between Dania Gurira and Daniel Kaaluya's characters gets tested, as do many real-life relationships. What's important is not the test, but how you react to the test and what happens after. Okoye is faced with a decision we don't see most female characters in media make, but Okoye is a different type of women: strong, brave, fearless, and firm in who she is. I don't want to spoil the movie, but moral of the story: never compromise your morals, ethics, or what you believe in even if it is for love.
"Ride or Die" isn't enough to sustain a relationship.
The phrase "ride or die" has been used for years now to describe the relationship between two people that would do any and everything for one another. You two verses the world. We've seen examples of these relationships in our personal lives and in media ( does Bonnie & Clyde ring a bell), but we don't always see the other side of these relationships. Killmonger is the perfect example that being in a "ride or die" relationship isn't enough to sustain a relationship. Relationships need to be built on more than short tempers and love of violence. In short, if it comes down to a "you" or "me" situation, be prepared for an answer you might not be happy with.
There's a difference between "good" and "better."
In one of the beginning scenes, T'Challa is talking to his little sister Shuri about his current way of doing things as Black Panther. Shuri informs him that his way works, but doesn't mean it's the only way. What did this teach me? Never get stuck in your own way by not adapting, adopting, or wanting to learn how to be better. Killmonger also teaches T'Challa the concept of not being stuck in the old way of doing things just because that's how things have been. While Killmonger may have been a bit extreme in his views and ways of implementing change, T'Challa was still able to learn something from their differing views (this goes back to the second thing I learned).
JAY Z's 4:44 line is more than a catchy IG caption.
No one wins when the family feuds. Said by the legend Shawn "JAY Z" Carter himself. We've seen the line used in social media captions, during interviews when people are trying to be PC and other pop culture references, but Black Panther shows us what happens if, in fact, the family does choose to feud. We become divided. We don't try to understand each other. We lose sight of the mission. And once the mission is lost, how do we get back on track? Family feuds lead into a deep spiral setting us so far back we begin at square wiping clean all the progress we've made. Friends become foes. Lovers become enemies. And innocent bystanders get hurt. No time to feud when you have more important priorities.
While Black Panther is filled with lots of underlying messages, correlations to our current state of affairs, and other gems we might pick up after watching a few more times, the movie is not only entertaining and proof of great storytelling, it's a glimpse into our future if we continue to learn from the past and act in the present.