Let me get this out of the way. I think you'll enjoy "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" if you can ignore the subliminal messages. The movie aggressively targets Black females who might be interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). I'll be discussing the movie from what many today call "red pill" and "Black masculinist" perspectives. If you're not a fan of controversial takes regarding racism and sexism, this ain't for you.
Spoilers. Spoilers. Spoilers.
Just saw Black Panther 2. It's okay if you can ignore the agendas, or those agendas support you. Longest "Black girls into STEM" recruitment ad I've seen. Rarely saw Black men doing anything. #BlackPantherWakandaForever— Jt (@jtspratley) November 11, 2022
I was lucky to only be in a theater room, "house," with maybe thirty people. There were few Blacks in there with me. There were Blacks in almost every commercial before the movie started, even thirty minutes after the starting time. The most memorable examples are Creed 3, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and the Black Little Mermaid.
#BlackGirlMagic and STEM
Getting to the actual movie, there was a lot of science in this movie. There were comparative analysis, 3D printing, engineering, and more. Most of it looks legit. However, I mostly saw Black women doing this stuff. To be specific, I mostly saw Shuri, T'Challa's younger sister, and 19 year old Riri doing epic stuff.
The movie opened with Shuri attempting a cure to her brother's unknown illness before he died. Seriously, they never identified what illness killed T'Challa. She later created a synthetic version of the heart-shaped herb, using the help of T'Challa's DNA, to gain super strength. At some point she became a great fighter as well. They don't show that in the hero's journey, though. She states that she learned all this from her brother (or father, I forgot), so there's some posthumous recognition.
Continuing the trend, Riri learned how to tinker with mechanics from her father who died when she was only three years old. Like Shuri's father, Riri's father is never shown, only mentioned. The beginning of the movie, her college project is used by the CIA to develop the vibranium detector which discovered Namor's underwater city. Beautiful visuals. And no, she doesn't attend an Historically black colleges or university (HBCU).
Black Men Do Nothing
It was like a spiritual, sci-fi "Woman King" sequel. Where most Marvel phase 4 productions made men inferior to make women seem superior. Forest Whitaker's Zuri character, was replace by a Black woman instead of another Black man actor from great Black history movies. The teaser trailers showed us that Shuri would be taking over the Black Panther mantel.
I wish I'd thought to count how many Black men I saw throughout the movie, excluding T'Challa flashbacks. I honestly think it was less than twenty if I ignore the returning waterfall scene where all tribes watch duels for the throne. M'Baku was the only prominent Black male character.
The first time M'Baku appears in this movie, he is but a rude brute who must be told to sit by Queen Ramonda. He first simply recommends killing Namor without any thought. He's ignored. Once the Vibranium-adorned "fish god" attacks the city, M'Baku takes his chance with a high flying staff attack from above. Namor blocks the attack from behind with extreme ease, breaking the staff in the process, only to turn around and one-punch him a hundred feet or so back. The chest strike crushed M'Baku's armor on impact.
The only strong Black man in the movie was defeated to show how much of a threat a confirmed mutant with ankle wings, Vibranium gear, and superhuman strength is to our protagonist. This makes him look useless in the conflict. With my current hypersensitivity to such anti-Black male work, it seemed like a subtle "buck breaking" reference. General Okoye put up a good fight against four Atlanteans before this scene.
Double-agent Ross did plenty in this movie. He got called "colonizer" a few times, shared info with Shuri and the feds, and got caught by Val after she bugged Wakandan beads somehow. Reactivated general Okoye saved him in the end, though. Next, leadership.
Leadership is Hard
The trailers don't hide that the movie is primarily about overcoming grief and vengeance. There's some stuff about long-term strategies and alliances in there. Some of the most popular books I've read on leadership are:
- "48 Laws of Power" - Robert Greene
- "How to Win Friends and Influence People" - Dale Carnegie
- "PowerNomics" - Dr. Claud Anderson
- "On Writing Well" - William Zinsser
- The Army NCO Guide (TC)
- "The 5 Love Languages" - Gary Chapman
They're all about purpose, effective communication, and emotional intelligence (EQ). Losing emotional control is a common reason why situations worsen. Star-Lord's lack of control during Infinity War had multiverse-wide consequences. They didn't fix those issues during Endgame, just mitigated the ripple effect, depending on your perspective.
Queen Ramonda Leads the Way
Shortly after the world learns that Wakanda lacks a king, there's a United Nations (UN) meeting where France reprimands Queen Ramonda for still not sharing vibranium. I've no issues with how she handled this. I wanted to take this opportunity to remind readers about the UN's people of minorities meeting in December 2022.
When crap hits the fan, she struggled to contain her fears to make sound decisions. When General Okoye fails to prevent Namor's forces from capturing Shuri and Riri, the queen berates and discharges Okoye before the council as punishment. It wasn't Okoye's decision for Shuri to attend in fetching Riri in the first place. It was the Queen's decision. Okoye should've been given the chance to share intel from the encounter to help find the duo. I feel the same about real incidents. "Zero tolerance" and firing people for mistakes or disagreements usually does one of few things:
- Discourage people from having honest conversations, and maybe encourage people to cover up mistakes for those in the "good ol' boys" club
- Encourage people to rebel, which can bring more attention to the situation
One example that comes to mind: when Tyrion became hand of king at the end of "Game of Thrones." The point was for him to clean up his mistakes using the knowledge he gained from them.
Another severe mistake Queen Ramonda made was meeting Namor after the kidnapping alone. M'Baku couldn't attend because that would show a Black man protecting a Black women. That goes against the narrative that Black women rule the Black community, or lack thereof. No other soldiers escorted her because Disney wanted to show her being a "strong Black women."
Shuri Leads the Way
Shuri's emotional decisions for vengeance reminds me of many women leaders I've encountered in the past. No, I didn't say that I believe women can't lead. An overemotional woman is no better than a too prideful man in a position of power. Much of what I have left to say about Shuri is mostly about her character arc and interactions with others.
Shuri didn't have to fight for the throne or Black Panther mantel like T'Challa did against M'Baku and Killmonger. There's an element of equity versus equality there. Going into a deeper message of the movie, Shuri visits the astral plane after taking the synthetic herb. Supposedly, Shuri didn't believe in the astral plane, and therefore visits Killmonger. Killmonger states that she wanted to see him because of her bloodlust for vengeance after attacked Wakanda, which led to Queen Ramonda's death.
Killmonger calls T'Challa "too noble" and asks if she'll "take care of business" like Killmonger did. She denied it. She even refused to tell anyone who she saw in the astral plane. Furthermore, she didn't kill Namor when she had the chance. She told him to "yield" and that in return she'll protect them from outsiders. She didn't let vengeance consume her, like T'Challa didn't kill Zemo at the end of Civil War.
So, did Shuri "take care of business," or was she "too noble?" I wonder why the movie steered away from directly answering that question. Someone must've thought that it would fuel more Blacks to build our community. Being released around the same time as deplatforming Kyrie Irving and Kanye West, this stoked flames. The first Black Panther influenced a lot of people, myself included, to buy more from Black-owned businesses. I didn't see any great clothing for men in the sequel. If anything, this movie influenced me to support Black men owned businesses more.
After appearing as the Black Panther for the first time, Shuri commands that M'Baku will fight with her. By this point, he thinks it is best not to kill someone they consider a god as it could start an endless war. Him having changed his mind seems forced, like a "shoulder angel" plot device, to counter Shuri just as he did her mother earlier in the movie. This bothers me because this is one of many times that the one prominent Black man is used simply to show someone else's strength and intelligence.
Namor is Light-skin Killmonger Water Variant
Many people give Namor crap for not being played by someone with more muscle mass. The actor looks natural, as in not on steroids. I was unbothered by his appearance.
He said a few things that made me raise an eyebrow, though. While negotiating with Shuri, he says "the most broken people make great leaders." I understand how this can sometimes be true. That brokenness can help one develop high EQ. Namor wanted to kill Riri for building a machine that exposed his people, vengeance on the world, then Wakanda for refusing to help them. Shuri and Namor were "broken" but Shuri spared him, while Namor did "yield" instead of fighting to the death.
The first Black Panther was Black vs Black. The sequel was somewhat Latin vs Black. Whites are observers and beneficiaries in both cases. Coincidence? Black on black crime is a byproduct of the government strategically restricting resources from Black communities. Latin versus Black friction is the byproduct of the politicians propping up Mexicans and other immigrants as "black, indigenous, and people of color" (BIPOC) at the expense of Blacks. This is more apparent when Namor tells the Wakandans, Africans, that his people were conquered for resources. Cringe, yes?
The Child and the Single Mother
The big reveal in the end credit scene is that Nakia was raising T'Challa junior during her six year hiatus in Haiti. She and T'Challa had agreed to keep him away from Wakanda and the pressure to man up to expectations to take the throne. Instead of the child living with a mother and father, I perceived this as the mother wanted to continue to do her own thing and keep the child with her. Of course, that is to the expense of the son's development as a man as he's separated from his father. I've seen this story in reality more than enough times.
Oddly enough, there's a point where she tells the queen how much she loved him. We didn't see that. The first movie showed her denying him, a king. This prompted some to make jokes about him becoming a son-husband. The serious question is whether he'll have a strong male influence. M'Baku challenges for the throne at the end. Will it be Black man versus Black man again?
Final thought on the parent-child relationship angle: the first Black Panther was about father and son relationships. The sequel is about mother and daughter relationships. How they'll show a Black boy's growth through T'Challa Jr. and Eli Bradley is concerning from my perspective.
The gayness is there but not as overt as the Black gay couple in "Eternals." Many people made a stir after reports of Michaela Coel joining the cast months ago because she played a transwoman, Arabella, in the TV series "I May Destroy You." The scene was simply Michaela's Aneka character kissing Florence Kasumba's Ayo on the head "en passant" at the end of the movie.
Two Black lesbian soldiers sharing an intimate moment isn't surprising given the amount of LGBT representation in recent productions. There are also reports that there are many more Black women than we realize. They're just DL or accepted without issue.
Completely unrelated, I respected the use of music in this movie. There was plenty of silence, especially in emotional moments. On another note, Namor's Atlanteans had a suicide song. Well, they had a song they would sing which hypnotized civilians to walk into the water and presumably drown. That's hardcore for a Disney production.
This reminds me of when movies use certain frequencies to incite certain actions. There are videos about this in film and government experiments. The best example I know is the rumbling that adds discomfort to the Irreversible movie. Music history is fun stuff.
Riri was using an Apple computer, with full-disk encryption, to do the things. I shouldn't be surprised since advertising in Marvel movies aren't covert. It would've been awesome to see a System76 laptop running popular free open-source software (FOSS). Dream on. This isn't "Upgrade." I was surprised to see a General Atomics MQ-1 Predator drone used for surveillance. Random thought: I'm curious how Val was able to bug Wakandan beads to intercept wireless communications. Did she crack the encryption or are Wakandans using basic ultra high frequency (UHF) bands?
This movie told me that Marvel and Disney see Black men as insignificant. I will not put money into this franchise until I feel that this slap in the face is truly rectified. And no, I don't think Kang will fix this.
Want more? Check out Dr. T. Hasan Johnson's in-depth, spoiler-rich review of the Black girl magic sequel.