Some Thoughts on Black Panther, from a White Dude


I love this movie. Love. I think it’s probably the best overall film Marvel’s come out with, viewed holistically. I might like a certain action scene or the humor in another movie more BUT, taken as a whole, Black Panther is STRONG. Top three, if not top of the list.

And, I have confirmed, very rewatchable.

I’ve been struggling with what else – if anything – to say about the movie, and honestly trying to decide if I should say anything about it. I love it, and I think it’s great, and I think if you haven’t seen it, and you’re someone in my circles, you probably should, because you’ll like it.

But what else?

I mean, the empowerment and representation in this movie is not mine, and that is an inarguable good, so maybe I should just shut the fuck up about it.

Maybe no one wants to hear that I think Blank Panther also has something important to say to me and other white guys. Maybe I don’t even need to step into the “what Black Panther has to say” conversation at all.

And if you feel that way, I respect that, and you should definitely tune this next bit out.

Because… this movie is about Wakanda, right?

And what’s Wakanda?

Wakanda is, by all accounts (including the exposition in the movie) a pretty blessed country. It has resources and advantages no one else in the world has. It has made advances no one else in the world has, and in fact enjoys benefits no one else in the world even imagines can be.

“You guys have hoverbikes?!?”

It has, in short, all the best stuff.

And, at the start of the movie (and throughout the fictional history of this country) what Wakanda does with these gifts is:

  • use them to protect itself
  • preserve its advantage
  • ensure that everyone else’s problems do not become its problems.

So… basically… white men in the real world.

And without discussing spoilers, I will say this.

The movie demonstrates a healthy, helpful, I think necessary path forward for anyone with those kinds of advantages.

And it’s not more guns.

It’s not war and occupation in every country we don’t agree with.

It’s not continuing the same selfish, inward-focused, personal preservation that has been our go-to move throughout history.

In a time of conflict, fools builds a wall barriers, and the wise build bridges.



Without (I hope) taking anything away from everyone to whom this movie will speak much more fully, much more emotionally, and much more personally, I hope I can say that it also has something to tell a middle-aged white dude.

And I’m going to shut up and take notes, because it’s got a hell of a good point.

Avatar: my thoughts, my opinions, my recommendation

… and my background: with the exception of Piranha Part Two: The Spawning, I’ve seen all of James Cameron’s movies at least three times. Yeah, even Titanic (though the third time was against my will). Understand that simple fact about me first: I’m pretty much the guy’s target audience.

Kate and I went to see Avatar last night. As I told some folks afterwards, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable, fun movie, and I didn’t remotely mind the nearly three hour length, even wearing the Real-3D glasses. (In fact, there was no point in there where I so much as shifted in my seat and thought “Okay, you could have edited this bit out, Jim.” I enjoyed it all, even the Diaspora-esque ship the protag comes to Pandora in.

Those of you who know me know that I do not consider “in 3-D” a selling point for a movie: I’ve never once walked out of a show thinking “man, if only that had been 3-D, they might have had something.” However, thanks to an observation from Chuck, we chose to go to to the 3-D version, and I’m very very glad we did. Like Coraline, this movie uses 3-D intelligently.

Even those of you who don’t know me might suspect I enjoy a good story. Much has been said about the simple, damned familiar story of Avatar — I’ll admit that I’ve repeated the Dances with Smurfs joke more than once — but the movie reminded me that old, simple stories are a lot like old, simple words: they resonate.

Is it a great movie? I don’t know. It’s certainly good. There are no major plot holes I could see. The technology is brilliant and used well, and the setting itself is gorgeous. Kate and I talked about the different parts we liked for a solid half hour after we left.

And here’s what I realized this morning when I woke up — the thing that made me write this post: I want to go see it again. In the theatre. In the 3-D. I will, in fact, be a little sad if I don’t manage it. Take that for what it’s worth.

I was going to make a nice little list of all the various kinds of people who might like this movie, and suggest they see it, but here’s the bottom line: If you like movies, even a little, I think you should see it.

Like it or hate it, I think you should see it.

In the theatre.

Probably even in 3-D.

Man, those are some words I never thought I’d say again, after Coraline. Way to go, Cameron.