Monday, March 12, 2018

Belatedly seeing Black Panther - a real romp

This post is also the Monday Forum post

Eldest has been back in Australia on a short visit so we went to the pictures Wednesday afternoon. She wanted to see The Post. I was happy with that, but made the mistake of saying that I had seen it before. That was a no-no. It had to be a film I hadn't seen before, so I nominated Black Panther.

As an aside, she had seen it but didn't tell me. Maybe just as well, because otherwise it would have been The Post.   That wouldn't have been bad, I really liked the movie, but I did enjoy Black Panther.

I knew it was a Marvell film. I could hardly not given youngest's interests! This meant that I broadly knew what to expect. I knew that it had been very successful at the box office, adding to Disney's now overflowing coffers. I did not know about all the hype surrounding the movie as a somehow significant "black" film.

I'm glad I didn't because I came to the film without preconceptions, treating it just as a spectacle and story. Had I known, I might have watched it differently; the message significance would have stood between me and the story.

As you might expect, the visual effects in the film are spectacular, the pace fast, sufficiently fast to conceal the inevitable plot weaknesses. The film also plays to various tropes

The idea of a hidden African kingdom dates back to the days of  European exploration when Africa was still an unknown continent to European eyes. King Solomon's Mines is an example. The broader idea of hidden kingdom or organisation that people search for is exemplified by the mysterious Second Foundation in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series.

The meld between traditional African images and those modified by the Kingdom's history is instantly familiar in visual terms, while the good v evil battles are part of the Marvell trope as well as familiar to anyone who reads fantasy and especially young adult fantasy  Then, too, the film incorporates (pinches?) specific tropes/memes/images that will be instantly recognisable from car chases to Q in the James Bond series. Here I found myself musing on just how much fun the production team must have had in thinking about this.

This is not a serious film, but it is fun. If you haven't seen it, I suggest that you do so!  


2 tanners said...

FWIW, I'm told that the Black Panther Marvel comic dates from just before the Black Panther Party of the 60's and 70's, and resulted in quite a headache for Stan Lee and the editorial team. They were trying to crack the black readership market without actual blacksploitation, and then along comes an identity crisis to beat all others. They tried changing the name, but quickly changed it back.

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, 2t. Either Clare or Helen mentioned that. I have a vague feeling that they said the movement actually drew from the comic in setting its name. I can't find a confirmation.

Anonymous said...

Your feeling is correct, Jim.
Their high point was when Leonard Bernstein hosted a fund-raising party for them.


Jim Belshaw said...

Laughs. Thank's DG. I'm glad that my memory wasn't too inaccurate!