Black Panther is different from other superhero movies because of how unapologetically African it is, while simultaneously displaying the excellence of an African kingdom, in contrast to the way the African continent is usually portrayed. The African kingdom in Black Panther is a fictional kingdom, but the message communicated is true when you learn about the kingdoms that existed throughout Africa’s history.
Whether you think about Egypt, Nubia, Ethiopia, Mali, and other kingdoms, you can see that the kingdom of Wakanda isn’t so far-fetched.
For me, the common thread that runs through this is the importance of representation and perception. The excitement from black people in this country is intense and palpable, because we get to see a superhero on the main stage in a way that hasn’t been seen before. This not only impacts us, it impacts how children experience superheroes in the movies. This movie also brings something fresh to the Marvel comics universe in theaters, like Guardians of the Galaxy did a few years ago.
The importance of perception is the key for humanity in general, and Christians like me in particular. This goes beyond the movie because it brings me back to Trump allegedly calling countries in the African continent and other nations sh*tholes. There were some who argued that the countries he mentioned are in fact sh*tholes, based on corrupt leadership, as well as squalid living conditions.
The problem with that thinking is that it ignores the context of the comment, which was immigration, and it determines the value of the people based on the conditions of their country.
In order to address an issue, you have to acknowledge the problem, so we can acknowledge that there are issues in these countries. But another important piece in addressing the issue is in approaching it redemptively. As a Christian, I cannot condemn a country with such disparaging remarks, yet claim to love the people there. My perception of the people and their country must be nuanced enough to deal with the horrible conditions, and see them and their country’s worth beyond it.
The narrative we adopt and promote has huge implications on how we see others and respond to God’s call in reaching them. It also shows the powerful influence of what we’re entertained by, as well as what we’re willing to celebrate.
These are just some of the takeaways that came to mind as we anticipate an incredible movie!
I’m not a big comic book fan, but I appreciate it when it’s brought to life in the movies. Which character do you identify with the most? Whose outfit do you love the most? What aspect of this movie are you looking forward to the most?!
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