When I left our sold-out Black Panther theater on opening night, I wanted to run out and start shouting on the street, SEE THIS MOVIE NOW!
In brief: It was just spectacular: The casting is stellar, the special effects are killer, the production design and costumes are unlike anything I’ve seen, and as far as the story itself (no spoilers!), Black Panther is nothing short of Shakespearean in its themes of community, heritage, benevolence, family, duty, forgiveness and all the grey area in between.
The strongest of the men show emotion. And the women? And oh my lord, the women. The glorious, powerful, scene-stealing women who kick ass both physically and intellectually in every scene? More of that please, Hollywood.
But here’s the thing:
I’m a white lady.
I can write all day about the joy that Black Panther brought me, and share some well-researched perspectives on its cultural significance. But admittedly, you would be missing so much from my review.
Because there are some major aspects of Black Panther will never be as personal to me in the same way as they are for people of color, whose thoughtful reviews I’ve been reading around the web for the past week or so.
To use an analogy, the 2017 Wonder Woman movie (and that first act in particular), made me feel something extraordinary; I know it did for so many of you too. And while men can love and appreciate everything on the screen that I did, they can never feel exactly what I felt in watching an entire utopian women-only community, filled with strong, compassionate, nurturing, badass women living only for themselves and each other.
And so I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the Black Panther movie reviews from parents of color in particular.
Their observations about the film (as with all things) are informed by their life experience as both mothers and women of color. So what’s abundantly clear is that they pick up on themes that I didn’t grasp immediately; they take away slightly different lessons than I do; they experience different joys — or they experience the same joys in different ways.
For me, reading their words has been eye-opening — and sometimes even a little hard. That’s a good thing.
I think most of all, their insights have been so valuable to me, because when I go back to see Black Panther again next week — this time with my kids (can’t wait!) — I know I’ll be able to experience the film a little differently, a little more profoundly, and come away even more great discussion-starting points for my kids.
If you’re considering seeing Black Panther with your own family (I won’t yell at you for not having gone yet), or you’re thinking about going back a second time — particularly if you’re a white mom like I am — I urge you to take a look at the film through the eyes of just a few mothers of colors that I’ve put together here, and click through each of their links for their full reviews.
The ability to see the same 135 minutes of screentime through so many different eyes so easily, is really one of the best parts about the internet.
From Amiyrah Martin of 4 Hats and Frugal
Black Panther Review: A Parent’s Honest Opinion
As a 35 year old African-American woman, I can’t express how amazing it was walking out of the Dolby theater after seeing this remarkable film. I felt proud to be in the skin I’m in. Just imagine your 7 year old son seeing a king on screen who looks just like him. A king that’s also a superhero, and stands up for what’s right. A Black queen who exhibits refinement, a Black princess who’s the smartest person in the world, and other Black characters who resemble strength, purity, and excellence.
From Brandi Jeter of Mama Knows it All
Black Panther Review: Not Just for Comic Book Fans
Marvel’s Black Panther is worth all of the hype for the girl power alone. As I tweeted the day after viewing the movie, “I can finally process what I saw last night. Black WOMEN presented as heroes. Our own heroes. SUPER heroes. We were the smartest and strongest people in the screen. Y’all—we have never seen US like this before.”
From Christie of Raising Whasians
Black Panther Movie Review: Is it Safe for Kids?
I have to…applaud Marvel for finally celebrating a superhero world where diversity reigns. As a mom raising multicultural kids, I cannot stress how important it is that we are seeing a Marvel world with a diverse cast of leading characters. They’re beautiful. They’re strong. They’re representative of a huge part of the human race as we know it. And the more that we (and our kids) see diversity in films, the more accepting we will be.
From Joyce Brewer of Mommy Talk Show
Dark Skin & Natural Hair are the Beauty Standard in Black Panther’s Wakanda
In the Black Panther movie’s fictional African country, Wakanda, I am the beauty standard. What saddens me is that it took 44 years for me to finally see myself reflected on the big screen. I saw myself in General Okoye (played superbly by Danai Gurira), leader of the all women army, Dora Milaje. I saw myself in Wakandan spy and King T’Challa’s love interest, Nakia (played by Oscar winner Lupita N’Yongo).
Almost every woman in the film looked just like me: dark skin, natural hair and short hair.
From Tatanisha Worthey of This Worthey Life
Marvel’s Black Panther Movie Review
Mannnnnn, this Marvel movie BLOWS all of the other movies out of the water. Not just because it represents black people. Not just because it touches on our struggles. Not just because it’s full of action, a sexy villain, and beautiful black people. Not just because it represents beautiful, BLACK women. Not just because it shows how black people work together and win. Not just because it shows us in a positive light. Not just because it’s a black superhero as a positive role model for my black boys. Not just because it shows girls that brains and beauty can go together. Not just because it will dig deep into your emotions, and if [you’re] non-black, make you squirm a bit…
From Danielle Slaughter of Mamademics
Black Panther is the Superhero America Needs
Black Panther is the example of social justice that I want my sons to follow, so I must start to follow his example as well….[King T’Challa] is stepping up to take responsibility for the future. He did the hard work of being held accountable and is starting the process of making amends. Taking accountability. The making AND accepting of amends. That is f*cking social justice.
Just a few non-parent-centric reviews and posts worth reading too:
From the staff of The Root
We Went to Opening Night of Wakanda and Now We Want to Live There Forever
For most of Black Panther, I couldn’t believe what I was watching. An African nation that was never colonized? Two black women talking to each other about their mission and not, I dunno, either not talking at all or talking about a man? Moments that went on forever where no white characters spoke, or where they were summarily chastised for speaking? Black women who were fully realized characters with agency and their own beliefs? Black men who were completely confident and actualized in their ideals, even if the viewpoints were opposing and varied? A cinematic parallel for the real-world tensions and conflicts that often exist between Africans and African Americans? Black people who were the victors and not victims? What! – Danielle Belton, Editor-in-Chief
From Luvvie Ajayi of Awesomely Luvvie
My Black Panther Review
From the get go, what people were really excited to see was Wakanda. Part of the reason Black Panther is appealing is because here’s this superhero, who is from a country that is more technologically advanced than any other. And that country is in Africa. The vibranium in Wakanda made it a powerful place, and this story is one we don’t see often. WHATTT?? Africa is more than tin huts and flies? Well shut my mouth wide open!
As an African myself, the irritation about how the continent is portrayed is always at the surface for me. When I came to the United States at 9, I learned that the place I’m from was considered undeveloped and archaic. It was news to me!
From Sesali Bowen from Refinery 29
Black Panther Has a Message for Black Men: Trust Black Women
Anticipating a bold statement against white supremacy, I was surprised to find the movie to be a cautionary calling out of Black elitism and respectability. And while T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), the Black Panther, is obviously the protagonist of the film, moviegoers looking forward to a narrative that centers Black men and masculinity as the only eligible leaders of Black communities are also in for a rude awakening. Instead, it is a visual lesson in how Black men can and should lean into the power and aptitude of their female peers. In scene after scene of Black Panther, the message is clear: trust Black women.
From E. Angel for Black Girl Nerds
A Look at Black Panther: Changing A New Generation
Don’t worry, the movie is not a two-hour long afterschool special. But the story does hopefully drive home that regardless of your station, we are all looking for our place whether it is with our family, our work, or our country. [Black Girl Nerds’] Kayla Marie started the hashtag, #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe. Nate Moore recently said the hashtag, “was almost my proudest moment. Because…that sort of hit home, oh yeah, this is going to be important to people in a way that I was not prepared for.”
All photos © Marvel Studios