Wonder Woman in 2017 and Black Panther in 2018 – we are finding new and colorful reasons to celebrate superheroes every year.
The first worldwide releases of Black Panther are out and viewers are threatening to build houses inside multiplexes. Make no mistake – Black Panther is the best looking Marvel movie yet. And just that fact does enough to override the astonishingly nuanced racial identity theme of the movie – right from the all-out ensemble black cast in front and behind the camera to the nuanced rendering off of the movie in the fictional African nation of Wakanda – every bit about this movie inspires raw admiration.
Black Panther has almost everything that you could demand from a superhero movie. A powerful, virtuous hero, an imposing villain, immersive graphics, comic relief, and some major-league action. Director Ryan Coogler has run riot with the allocated 200 million USD budget of the movie without compromising an inch of the auteur in him. If you miss Black Panther, you miss out on what could be the start of a new generation of superhero movies. Well done, Marvel!
That was pretty much the consensus of opinion that we, at Onata, had about Black Panther, the movie. What struck us even more fiercely was Black Panther, the idea. It starts with the ethno-magical value of Afrofuturism. First of all, we can’t call enough kudos to Coogler and Marvel for elevating this idea from the comics to the movie.
For the uninitiated, Afrofuturism is the philosophy that combines elements of science fiction, fictional history, and magical realism among other non-western themes. The philosophy has extensively been used by fiction and fantasy writers to critique modern dilemmas of black people. Simultaneously, attempts have also been made to examine events of the past through the lens of Afrofuturism.
In its entirety, Afrofuturism helps rekindle hope in a race that originated in the birthplace of humanity itself. Black Panther will be the first time that people of all colors and origins will receive a mainstream taste of Afrofuturism.
The fictional land of Wakanda epitomizes Afrofuturistic philosophy to the hilt. It’s hidden under seemingly invisible layers of shield/digital membrane and is ‘manned’ by the elite, all-female guard of Wakanda. The Wakanda alphabet we see on the walls in the background stems out from an indigenous Nigerian language. And the ceremonial Wakanda costumes worn by the characters mix fiction and tradition in an inseparable harmony. The best part is that all of this is in sync with the bleeding- edge technology we see in almost every frame of the movie. That’s right – everything from the Wakanda flag, Wakanda map, Wakanda tribes, and even the Wakanda vibranium merge into each other in pure harmony!
From a larger, social perspective, Black Panther has come to a couple of decades too late. Even beyond the theme of racial identity and the glitter of superhero action, Black Panther shows us a glimpse of the ideal neighborhood in the fictional land of Wakanda. Pause for a second and think about it. This place has an all-women military guard, women innovating with some serious tech for the larger good of the society, and a black protagonist who challenges evil of all colors. For how long have we wanted an American society to look and feel like this?
If at all anything, we can only question Marvel for what took them so freaking long to make a superhero movie like this. But they say it is better late than never. Finally, we have something that every lover of life can celebrate.
At Onata, we couldn’t be surprised enough with how identically the magical society of Wakanda represents the one we are trying to create with the Onata Neighborhood Service. It is a simple, app-based service-cum-value exchange platform where neighbors stand for one another for their small and large service requirements. We truly believe that social bridging between communities of different colors, faiths, and philosophies is possible by making them serviceable to one another.
Yes, we are recreating Wakanda, here in America! Want to be a part of the neighborhood? Sign up for Onata now!
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