RECAP: Black Panther & The Blogger Social

The Black Panther Lives

Black Panther, the blockbuster movie adaptation of the 1960's comic, is set to open in China next weekend, four weeks after its US debut.  It has already grossed over $400 million in the international box office. Three weeks after its release, the UK and South Korea are the movie's most successful markets outside the US.

And they said that a movie with a mostly Black cast could not do well internationally. According to entertainment news sources, it's worldwide revenue is now well over $910 million.

The Disney/Marvel film drew comic book fans, action seekers, pro Black enthusiasts and the curious. Many returned to see it again and again.

I saw Black Panther the weekend after it officially hit the movie theaters on February 16. My friend Debra planned a group outing to experience Director Ryan Coogler's interpretation of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. She's passionate about community building and the excitement around this movie really lent itself to that. There was no shortage of the Wakandan salute that night.

The movie was enjoyable, but I’m not raving about it. Maybe because I read too many spoilers beforehand. But, I appreciate that it was relevant to the times on a social and intellectual level. For me, its strength lies in the conversations it has started.

 Post Black Panther movie dinner hosted by Debra Lee (center)                                                                Photographer/Kelon Miller

Post Black Panther movie dinner hosted by Debra Lee (center)                                                                Photographer/Kelon Miller

 
 Shrimp & Grits at Alvin & Friends, New Rochelle, NY                                            Photographer/Kelon Miller

Shrimp & Grits at Alvin & Friends, New Rochelle, NY                                            Photographer/Kelon Miller

 Striking a pose at Alvin & Friends, New Rochelle, NY                                                               Photographer/Kelon Miller

Striking a pose at Alvin & Friends, New Rochelle, NY                                                               Photographer/Kelon Miller


Worst of Black Panther:

1. There are one or two scenes that seemed to be “resolved" too quickly. The most notable one is when W’kabi's (Daniel Kaluuya) surrenders near the end of the movie. He doesn’t believably have enough time to reflect on the error of his ways. His quick pan across the inter-Wakandan battle scene makes him kneel before the Dora Milaje’s general? That moment feels rushed and underdeveloped. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the sequel we find out that W’kabi only surrendered because he knew he would lose. There was no genuine change of heart. Just a “let me stop now before I get killed" plan of action.

 
 After dinner dance off at Alvin & Friends, New Rochelle, NY                                                                    Photographer/Kelon Miller

After dinner dance off at Alvin & Friends, New Rochelle, NY                                                                    Photographer/Kelon Miller

Best of Black Panther:

1. Akoye (Danai Gurira) and Nakia's (Lupita Nyong’o) high speed chase down South Korean streets. This scene was a great blend of action and humor. And it builds on the idea that tradition and innovation can coexist and work together.

2. T’Challah, (Chadwick Boseman) king of Wakanda aka the Black Panther, embodies this line Solonge’s song “Cranes in the Sky": “A king is only a man with flesh and bones. He bleeds just like you do.” The king is not weak, but he’s allowed to be vulnerable. He’s not even the best fighter. M’baku (Winston Duke) almost whips him during the first challenge for the throne and Eric Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) throws him off the cliff in the second. What T’Challah has going for him is fearlessness, teachability, he seeks his nation’s best interest and surrounds himself with the best. Killmonger’s “to whom much is given, much is required" argument is a valid one, but he is too broken to rule. He has to rule his own spirit first. He wears abandonment as his crown and robe. Its gravity is crushing.


Conversation Starters

It's clear that the studio invested in publicity and press tour activities, which included cast appearances on the daytime and nighttime talk show circuits, at Comic Con, and other fan events in the US and abroad. Here are two quotes from an interview at the Apollo Theater in Harlem I think touch on some major themes in the movie:

I don’t know if African Americans would accept T’Challah as our hero if he didn’t go through Killmonger. He has to go through Killmonger because Killmonger has been through our struggle. I haven’t gone through the struggle because I got the vibrainium spoon in my mouth. So in order for me to be what I’m actually supposed to be for the whole world I have to reconnect to what I lost.
— Chadwick Boseman
We play such a pivotal role in the ideology...the argument that is being made for the future of Wakanda when [Akoye] says ‘I’m going to serve my nation’ and Nakia says ‘I’m going to save my nation.’ Women can come to a head with each other and you can still feel the love the two of them had for each other - the respect. And also the love and respect for their nation. And I think that’s so powerful to see. It’s not petty.
— Lupita Nyong'o


The Blogger Social

The People Are Hungry

There’s something percolating in the Bronx. I feel a momentum growing.

Some of its brightest are staying and building - putting their money where their mouth is to shatter the unimaginative images of the borough.

250 creatives swarmed Bronx Museum of the Arts on Saturday, March 4 for the first Blogger Social. The event visionary and coordinator, lifestyle blogger, Deyla Sabio, spoke of the “aroma of creativity” that flavored the room and our shared drive to infuse it into our communities.


 
blogger social 3.jpg

The Blogger Social Collaborators

Ayesha Akhtar (left), Deyla Sabio (center) and Henry Obispo

 

Besides bloggers, I met photographers, designers, poets, entrepreneurs and artists. I listened as people told me about their inspirations and what they hoped to accomplish through their work. As they shared their stories I could hear them juggling their contexts, influences and their own contributions. I think it fanned a flame in all of us that won't be put out easily.