Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018)

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Luke M
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Comic Books on Film

#26 Post by Luke M » Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:32 am

McCrutchy wrote:
One thing I found rather odd and sort of disappointing, was
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the film's use of black American characters. For an American movie, with a largely black cast, and written/directed by black Americans, I was pretty surprised that all of the positive black characters are Wakandans, while the only black American character of note is the villain Erik/Killmonger, and he's portrayed as a half-Wakandan who was born in America, and basically "lost his way" (after T'Challa's father, as Black Panther, killed Erik's father) and went nuts. There is even a sidebar in the film where T'Challa chastises his father for essentially not "saving" the child Erik by taking him back to Wakanda. Additionally, most of Erik's backstory is compressed into a few expository sentences, where we learn that he got into M.I.T., but then went into the military and became a killing machine. The film never really explores Erik's anger (or his reasons for wanting to arm all kinds of oppressed peoples worldwide) in a satisfying way, and the film failed to have any sort of black American character in a positive role to counterbalance the villain. While there isn't necessarily anything wrong with this, it nevertheless gave the film a weird colonialist vibe for me, as though it was saying that only with the superior Wakandans help, blacks in America (and elsewhere) could lead better, more equal lives.
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I’ve been thinking about how African-Americans are portrayed in the film. It reminded me a lot of Ta-Nehsi Coates’s hopelessness. In the BP universe, Black Americans are incarcerated, murdered by the state, and the thought of ever seeing Wakanda is a distant dream. (Note this all from Killmonger’s point of view but we don’t see any counter to this view) The filmmakers are suggesting, like what you mentioned, Black Americans’ only shot at true equality would have to come from the assistance of an entirely invented country with a fantastical backstory and a hero with superhuman strength. I didn’t see it as colonialist. Though I can see that view. It was to me a desperate plea for help, a political statement.

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Re: Comic Books on Film

#27 Post by jbeall » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:08 pm

I saw it in an almost-full theater on a Sunday morning, and there was quite a bit of clapping at the end.

I thought it was excellent, one of my top three favorite comic-superhero movies. I really have to get back to grading, so I'll try to post more detailed thoughts once I have some free time, but I second the accolades for the supporting cast.

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Re: Comic Books on Film

#28 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:49 pm

So Black Panther is a standard MCU movie, about on the level of Winter Soldier, Spiderman: Homecoming, Ant-Man, or Thor. It is generally exciting, with a fine cast, and a script that hits the expected and appropriate beats. That it is being so massively praised as the apotheosis of the Marvel style is sort of confusing. It is below Doctor Strange and Thor Ragnarok, to take two recent examples, or going farther back, Iron Man and Guardians of the Galaxy. Doctor Strange, my own favourite of these MCU films, received considerably less praise or box office attention despite having more novelty and imagination, not just in its visuals and world, but in its resolution, which--and it cannot be overstated how unusual this is--did not end with a big fight scene. Now that was a comic book movie with a modicum of imagination. Black Panther, on the other hand, felt very familiar.
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Wakanda's world is baffling. It's an impossibly advanced society whose entire system of government rests on a primitive warrior cult in which combatants challenge each other for the right to hold absolute rule. It defines itself by its opposition to war, oppression, and violent reprisal, and yet the foundation of its society is a warrior cult. That its society has managed to be so safe and peaceful all these years is apparently down to the improbable good fortune of all its leaders happening to be wise and benevolent dictators, a series of Marcus Aureliuses without a Nero or Commodus in sight. That's some good luck, because apparently there are no checks or balances on royal power in this government. Killmonger, an outsider with no connection to Wakandan culture, can physically assault his subordinates and threaten them with execution, radically defy tradition and precedent, and declare his intention to carry out proscriptions on political rivals, all with impunity. The council he heads seem to be mainly advisors with no real power.

Observing this situation, T'Challa's family and followers (and frankly the movie) decides that the real problem here is not that this is an totalitarian government founded on a warrior cult, it's that the wrong person is king. And yet Killmonger isn't some travesty or perversion; he's the inevitable result of any system constructed like this. Any very strong fighter with a claim to the throne can snatch it and remake Wakanda however he sees fit, no matter the cost in human life and happiness. Hell, if that mountain ruler had won the fight, as by any right he should have, would he have been any better? The problem isn't Killmonger, it's the system that would allow him to gain and keep unchecked power. And he isn't even a false king; he won his crown fairly. That T'Challa survived to renew the contest is the result of unlawful interference in T'Challa's favour, without which he would've gone over the falls in two pieces. You have to feel bad for Killmonger: he won the crown fairly, but was undermined by illegal insurgent action on behalf of the previous royal family who valued tribalism and clan ties over the traditions that are the bedrock of their society, as far as I can gather (it is as conservative a society as you can imagine, with tradition having formed the basis of daily life for centuries).

The deep problems in Wakandan politics could've been tackled in an interesting way, but the movie would rather posit Wakanda's isolationist tradition as the problem and have T'Challa solve that, fixing everything (I guess). Because, after all, the problem is not that a man like Killmonger can become absolute ruler simply by being better at violence, the problem is that he wasn't allowed to be part of the in-group in the first place. Indeed.
Not that any of the above affected my enjoyment of the film one way or the other--it's an MCU movie, its values are going to be simplistic when they aren't merely incoherent, that's more or less the given. But you're going to have some very troubling issues to deal with if you're going to hold that Black Panther represents the comic book film's first step towards political maturity.

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Re: Comic Books on Film

#29 Post by who is bobby dylan » Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:06 am

Thanks for posting that. Here's a rather more criticial take, though it's a little hot take-y for me. I saw Black Panther this morning and enjoyed it a great deal, so I'm decidedly more receptive to the link you posted, but figured it'd be interesting to add a competing viewpoint.
A riposte to that hot take: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainme ... source=twb

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Re: Comic Books on Film

#30 Post by tenia » Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:40 am

Mr Sausage wrote:That it is being so massively praised as the apotheosis of the Marvel style is sort of confusing.
As I often wrote, the overall praise over the majority of Marvel movies is confusing to me.
This being written, the praise for Black Panther reminds me of the praise for Wonder Woman, and honestly, this doesn't look to me like a good thing, since WW was praised for many things I felt vastly over-rated, including its supposed feminism that actually is extremely clumsy.
Mr Sausage wrote:It's an MCU movie, its values are going to be simplistic when they aren't merely incoherent, that's more or less the given. But you're going to have some very troubling issues to deal with if you're going to hold that Black Panther represents the comic book film's first step towards political maturity.
That's the main vibe I'm reading here in France, which makes the current US praise even more confusing but also kind of inconsistent with the actual content of the movie (hence also why it reminds me of WW, which definitely suffered this positive unfair bias).

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Re: Comic Books on Film

#31 Post by McCrutchy » Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:40 pm

who is bobby dylan wrote:
Thanks for posting that. Here's a rather more criticial take, though it's a little hot take-y for me. I saw Black Panther this morning and enjoyed it a great deal, so I'm decidedly more receptive to the link you posted, but figured it'd be interesting to add a competing viewpoint.
A riposte to that hot take: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainme ... source=twb
Interesting that the author of that response, Adam Serwer (who has (changed?) his name on Twitter to "T'Challa"), appears to be either extremely light-skinned or actually Caucasian, while Christopher Lebron, who authored the critical take, is considerably darker in appearance.

I agree more with Lebron, although I think Serwer is correct to point out that
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Killmonger's ultimate goal is world domination. To take that a bit further, though (and as Serwer alludes to in pointing out Killmonger's mention of Hong Kong), I never really felt that Killmonger wanted to liberate black people all over the world, so much as oppressed people all over the world, and I think he even says things like "all the oppressed peoples will rise up", which, in this day and age, could hardly mean only blacks. In the 21at century, oppressed people aren't just in African countries, but Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and even South America, to name just a few places. And it's worth pointing out that Killmonger would have been to at least some of these places as a member of the US military, too. In this sense, I don't think Killmonger is as colorblind (to those not black) as some people might interpret, or possibly prefer.
I do think, however, that Lebron nails the idea that the film has problems with its representation of black Americans. Although there is still massive inequality for blacks--and virtually all minorities--in America, the vision of black America in Black Panther felt much more like 1968 than 2018, and that invalidation of fifty years of progress is one of the reasons why I find the mainstream American media's fawning over the film to be somewhat troubling. In fact, I think certain kinds of American racists could come away from the film pleasantly surprised to see black Americans "put in their place", by an advanced African nation that is, after all, decidedly fantastical, and (something I've not really seen mentioned) the brainchild of two white men (Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) in the first place.

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Re: Comic Books on Film

#32 Post by DarkImbecile » Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:13 pm

I mostly agree with those expressing mixed feelings on Black Panther. For every compelling actor (especially Michael B. Jordan's villain and Danai Gurira's general) or inspired bit of world-building, there is an equally uninteresting/incoherent action sequence - especially the almost shockingly boring final one-on-one combat scene - or under-investigated/simplistic socio-political idea. There are so many elements that distinguish this from every other Marvel/superhero movie (the investment in emotional relationships; the near-absence of constant, increasingly desperate-feeling connections to the larger franchise universe) that the areas where it fails to separate itself are perhaps even more disappointing.

On those action elements: it was deeply disappointing that Coogler, who made the fight sequences in Creed so thrilling and visceral, seems entirely disengaged from the often incomprehensible and/or downright ugly editing and staging of many of the fights and chases. I appreciated the investment Coogler makes in establishing meaningful characters and establishing this new society and its culture, but this is fundamentally an action film, and neglecting that element undermines the investment he makes in infusing meaning into the outcomes of these battles.

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Re: The Films of 2018

#33 Post by All the Best People » Sat Feb 24, 2018 6:51 am

Black Panther is ... fine. It’s a finely cromulent piece of business, with some good aspects and some flawed aspects. The performances are good (aside from Andy Serkis, but even then he’s clearly doing what was asked of him, so I don’t blame him), I liked the aesthetics of the world-building, there are several contrivances in the plot designed just to set up certain fights, the conflicts seem like they’re trying to imply nuance but in fact fail to and come across as thoroughly straightforward and uncomplicated, there are some okay action scenes, there are some bad action scenes. Of the six MCU films I've seen, it's tied for second along with Iron Man, Thor, The Avengers, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. II, all of which are ... fine, and some distance behind Guardians of the Galaxy [Volume I?].

The highlight is a young actress named Letitia Wright, who plays the sister of the Black Panther.

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Re: The Films of 2018

#34 Post by McCrutchy » Sat Feb 24, 2018 11:10 am

All the Best People wrote:The highlight is a young actress named Letitia Wright, who plays the sister of the Black Panther.
Letitia Wright seems to be the only member of the cast who remembered to make a comic book movie, as virtually everyone else is deadly serious 99% of the time. Andy Serkis is having fun in his role, but he's so over-the-top that he could be forgiven for thinking he was in some kind of parody film. His role is almost like an MTV Movie Awards skit extended to feature length.

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Re: Comic Books on Film

#35 Post by All the Best People » Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:45 pm

I didn't like Serkis' performance hardly at all, but I don't blame him, as he was clearly doing what was asked of him.

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Re: Comic Books on Film

#36 Post by bearcuborg » Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:00 pm

I saw Black Panther and had mixed feelings. This is only my 4th Marvel movie-and of that group-I was treated by friends to 3 of them. So super heroes aren’t my thing.

So having spent time in Africa, and going with my ex and her husband (both born in Africa), I have to say the accents annoyed them more than me. But yeah, they’re all over the place. It seems with all the talk of appropriation in Isle of Dogs-this film seems more like what someone’s idea of Africa is like in terms of its fashion/environment/politics. I was pretty disheartened there was little to no African musicians used for this film either.

So I’ve seen both Avengers-I like the first one a lot, but can’t stand the 2nd one. This one reminded me of Thor (having seen and enjoyed Ragnorak).

Killmonger was the most interesting to me. My friends spotlighted that he was a commentary on hyper masculinity in black American men. I wasn’t as sensitive to that-but I did find his final decision at the end to be particularly heartbreaking.

Selfishly I had hoped for a joke/reference to Zamunda...

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Marvel Comics on Film

#37 Post by DarkImbecile » Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:04 pm


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Re: Marvel Comics on Film

#38 Post by HJackson » Sun Apr 29, 2018 3:27 pm

Ribs wrote:(Black Panther has actually had a box office boost this weekend, performing better than last week, which amuses me)
I only just saw Black Panther this weekend precisely because of the buzz around Avengers. I'd not seen any of these Marvel movies until this weekend and decided I ought to since everybody in my workplace is talking about them constantly. The chaotic ensemble piece does not look appealing to me, as somebody with no familiarity with this "universe" at all, and I figured I might as well see a more self-contained one before it left theatres. The Black Panther screening I was in was absolutely packed, amidst 22 screenings for Avengers in the cinema I went to.

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Re: Marvel Comics on Film

#39 Post by tenia » Tue May 22, 2018 4:24 am

I watched Black Panther this week end and I have to say I don’t understand the deeper appeal for the movie and its overall very positive welcome.

As a movie first, it fails on many many levels.
Most obviously perhaps, its pace is horrendous, the movie feeling like it takes about 1h15 to really start, hesitating for most of this time between two bad guys, a hesitation that makes each villain “diluting” each other. As a whole, it’s another 2h+ blockbuster that should have been at least 20 minutes shorter, and it really is high time that Hollywood starts streamlining these runtimes.
Visually, it’s a mess. First, there is the now-usual action sequence in which people dressed in black fight in the dark and you can’t see crap. Then, there are some fights where people fight in water puddles, so you can’t see crap because water keep splashing on the camera (on top of the choreographies being overly cut, to a negative result). Then, for its big climax, this $300M-budget movie just throws you some of the worst digital doubles I’ve seen for years and some other awful CGI encrustations. It’s absolutely crazy to see such an AAA production indulging in these and I truly fail to understand how these were greenlit, but also how this happened despite such a budget. Of course, it doesn’t help that Coogler doesn’t seem at ease shooting these highly choreographed sequences, and the final duel isn’t nice to look at even when putting the awful VFX aside. The South Korea casino fight is nice though, most certainly the best action scene in the movie. Along with the spiral shot of Killmonger walking towards the throne, it also probably is the only sequence whose visuals are insteresting.

The casting probably is the best thing in Black Panther, but it’s unfortunate that their screen times aren’t proportional to the qualities displayed. Best of the bunch probably is Michael B. Jordan, but his character unfortunately has way too little screen time to truly be expanded. Boswick does a correct but unimpressive job with what he’s given, and is mostly eclipsed by the feminine part of the cast. Kurira especially is given a very powerful and independent character to work with, and truly impresses. I’m less impressed by Nyong’o’s character, which is a bit under-written, and a bit mixed towards Wright’s one : she’s very fun and amusing, but sometimes also borderline annoying. Serkis seems to have lots of fun with its over-the-top one-note character. Good for him.
Even the now-famous Lamar-curated OST is surprisingly poorly integrated to the movie, which seems not to truly want to use it and ends up placing a few cues here and there, but either weirdly situated (Pray for Me notably) or drowned in the sound mix (Opps). Even the SDH subtitles seem not to want to acknowledge these tracks, summing them up as “upbeat hip hop music” or “rap music” while other tracks are specifically named (like Hangover by PSY and Snoop Dogg). The rest of the soundtrack is mostly the usual Marvel soup, ie uninspired music nobody ever remembers.

But what is most surprising is the socio-political content of the movie, which Christopher Lebron pointed out quite well in his Boston Review. For a movie supposedly emboldening black Americans, it’s surprising to see it’s a movie who almost exclusively pictures black Americans as bad guys and that in the end, a white guy has to save the African country because the blacks are too busy having a gang fight so that in the end, noble black Africans can keep on ruling autocratically while black revolutionaries who dream about a total black liberation and the end of discriminations are killed by black-on-black violence.
Meanwhile, despite insisting on the traditions that look like fair rules (see how the movie emphasises how BP is “stripped of its power” before each of the ritual fights), our good guy always needs tons of help and support, including an intervention during a ritual fight, to prevent a legitimate challenger (and winner !) to do what the rules allow him to do. How fair is that ? How legitimate the hero is ?
It'd be fine if the movie acknowledges this, but of course it never does. It plays it straight and never bats an eye at how weak and needy his super-hero always end up being, while overthrowing a legitimate newcomer just because… because what ?
Well, because otherwise, what Killmonger offers except a full-on racial war that could never happen on-screen in a $300M blockbuster ? So instead, Killmonger is brought down back to being a bloodthirsty black American thug that needs to be stopped at all cost, so that in the end, the noble cheating African king can beat the young American black thug.

Again, Lebron summarized this quite well :
"in a world marked by racism, a man of African nobility must fight his own blood relative whose goal is the global liberation of blacks. In 2018, a world home to both the Movement for Black Lives and a president who identifies white supremacists as fine people, we are given a movie about black empowerment where the only redeemed blacks are African nobles. They safeguard virtue and goodness against the threat not of white Americans or Europeans, but a black American man, the most dangerous person in the world. Even in a comic-book movie, black American men are relegated to the lowest rung of political regard. So low that the sole white leading character in the movie, the CIA operative Everett Ross (Martin Freeman), gets to be a hero who helps save Wakanda. A white man who trades in secrets and deception is given a better turn than a black man whose father was murdered by his own family and who is left by family and nation to languish in poverty."

Just like it’s very hard to understand how feminists can find Wonder Woman appealing on this level, it’s very hard for me to understand what can black American people can find in Black Panther (and how movie critics could endorse this movie, cinematographically wise, ie all politics aside).



2.5/10

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Re: Marvel Comics on Film

#40 Post by who is bobby dylan » Tue May 22, 2018 12:50 pm

I watched Black Panther this week end and I have to say I don’t understand the deeper appeal for the movie and its overall very positive welcome.
I think you meant to say that you're not interested in understanding its deeper appeal and positive welcome. There are tons of positive reviews and essays about the film. If you're at all interested in them you could seek them out.
Just like it’s very hard to understand how feminists can find Wonder Woman appealing on this level, it’s very hard for me to understand what can black American people can find in Black Panther (and how movie critics could endorse this movie, cinematographically wise, ie all politics aside).
Again, it's not hard to understand. You could set aside your own, valid, but personal and subjective responses to the films and seek out the responses of people who enjoyed them. You could consider those responses, without the need to be convinced by them, but just to appreciate that film viewing is not some objective experience that some people do better than others, and that other people come to films with different criteria and judgments than you do.

Lebron is entitled to his opinion, but his essay is laughably bad. tl;dr this movie is bad because it is advancing an agenda that only he sees, but that no one who likes it takes away from it, because he's misreading the movie.
But what is most surprising is the socio-political content of the movie, which Christopher Lebron pointed out quite well in his Boston Review. For a movie supposedly emboldening black Americans, it’s surprising to see it’s a movie who almost exclusively pictures black Americans as bad guys and that in the end, a white guy has to save the African country because the blacks are too busy having a gang fight so that in the end, noble black Africans can keep on ruling autocratically while black revolutionaries who dream about a total black liberation and the end of discriminations are killed by black-on-black violence.
A white guy doesn't save the country. He, greatly aided by a black woman, helps prevent weapons from leaving Wakanda that would have endangered other countries.

The "blacks" are not having a "gang fight". There's been a political upheaval in the country that leads to two rival factions, resulting in a civil war for control of the country.

It is not surprising that a movie about a fictional, secret, African kingdom, set in said African kingdom, would feature few African Americans anymore than it is surprising that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon didn't feature many African Americans.

There is nothing in the movie to indicate that either T'Chaka or T'Challa rule autocratically.

Also, Nakia is the first to introduce the idea of Wakanda intervening (non-violently) to help other oppressed peoples. Unlike Killmonger, she isn't waiting for an opportunity to do this, she's already doing it when the film starts. The film is comparing their two visions of intervention, one rooted in non-violence and community and the other in the call for a revolutionary violence, and heavily critiquing the later in the form of Killmonger, a "charismatic" leader who claims to have a noble cause, but is actually motivated by his personal need to hurt others for the pain he has suffered in life. That one of these is rooted in a female character who acts to save her country, while the other is rooted in a male character who brutalizes women, and again, isn't interested in actually liberating people, can be seen as a commentary on sexism within the civil rights movement and activism in general in the US (presumably elsewhere as well), in which much of the actual, mundane work is done by women, who get no credit for it, while much of the attention is focused on men who make revolutionary speeches, with no concern for what they actually mean when/if implemented because the embrace of revolutionary language is just a cover/justification for destruction. Also because in the Marvel universe Wakanda is the most technologically advanced nation, the question of how it should intervene in the World is also a commentary on how the US should intervene in the world. Which is why a CIA operative becomes a hero when he helps prevent the spread of weapons around the world. The fact that the movie starts and ends in Oakland, with a character named Black Panther investing resources in the specific community where the Black Panther Party was founded seems to me to have a lot to do with validating Black Liberation.

I don't think all of this can be reduced to black on black violence.
Meanwhile, despite insisting on the traditions that look like fair rules (see how the movie emphasises how BP is “stripped of its power” before each of the ritual fights), our good guy always needs tons of help and support, including an intervention during a ritual fight, to prevent a legitimate challenger (and winner !) to do what the rules allow him to do. How fair is that ? How legitimate the hero is ?
T'Challa wins the challenge against M'Baku. T'Challa actually has the upper hand at the beginning in the challenge against Killmonger. He's in position to deliver two serious blows, but opts to lightly wound him instead, because he doesn't want to kill him. Only then does Killmonger gain the upper hand. Zuri intervenes and is killed. Killmonger then concludes the challenge fairly, and throws T'Challa over the falls, leading to Killmonger ascending to the throne. A result which everyone, but the royal family and Nakia complies with. When T'Challa is shown to be alive, he insist on continuing the challenge, which Killmonger then refuses. As for T'Challa needing the help of others in his other adventures, that is kind of one of the points of the film.

Your use of the word thug is racist. [Correction: his use of the word thug was not racist]. If you can only respond to arguably the most important main stream film for African Americans in recent history with racist language and a shrug, why do African Americans like this film, when it's so obviously anti-black, look I even found a black guy who thinks so! I would suggest that you're not interested in the answer to that question.
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Re: Marvel Comics on Film

#41 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue May 22, 2018 1:37 pm

who is bobby dylan wrote: There is nothing in the movie to indicate that either T'Chaka or T'Challa rule autocratically.
Killmonger does, which demonstrates that the king of Wakanda wields absolute power (as I said in my post when the movie came out). The Wakandan political system is troubling if you really look at.

I don’t agree with all of tenia’s particulars, but he’s right: the unreflective way this screenplay has evidently been put together has lead to a lot of accidental symbolism that’s unfortunate and no doubt would surprise and disappoint its makers.

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Re: Marvel Comics on Film

#42 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue May 22, 2018 1:43 pm

who is bobby dylan wrote:Your use of the word thug is racist. At this point, I'm no longer inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt. If you can only respond to arguably the most important film for African Americans in recent history with racist language and a shrug, why do African Americans like this film, when it's so obviously anti-black, look I even found a black guy who thinks so! I would again suggest that you're not interested in the answer to that question and that your own racism, and inflated sense of taste prevents you from being able to understand what the movie means, and why some people liked it.
I don’t want to hear any more of this kind of bullshit. Not least because you apparently can’t read: tenia is saying that Killmonger is being reduced to a thug, ie. a caricature. He is not calling him one.

If you can’t handle contrary opinions without becoming angry enough to call people ugly, serious names, don’t post.

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Re: Marvel Comics on Film

#43 Post by who is bobby dylan » Tue May 22, 2018 2:06 pm

How Killmonger rules isn't in question, but how T'Chaka and T'Challa rule, which is not autocratically. The Wakandan political system is troubling. The American political system is troubling. So, what exactly?

I will be more clear. His use of the word thug is not racist.
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Re: Marvel Comics on Film

#44 Post by domino harvey » Tue May 22, 2018 2:10 pm

You were literally just told not to do this

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Re: Marvel Comics on Film

#45 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue May 22, 2018 2:13 pm

who is bobby dylan wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 2:06 pm
How Killmonger rules isn't in question, but how T'Chaka and T'Challa rule, which is not autocratically. The Wakandan political system is troubling. The American political system is troubling. So, what exactly?
Their system is pretty clearly monarchical, with no sign of any counterbalancing legislative/judicial/etc. institutions, which is basically the definition of autocracy, isn't it? No comparison or whataboutism required to acknowledge that...

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Re: Marvel Comics on Film

#46 Post by who is bobby dylan » Tue May 22, 2018 2:27 pm

Their system is pretty clearly monarchical, with no sign of any counterbalancing legislative/judicial/etc. institutions, which is basically the definition of autocracy, isn't it? No comparison or whataboutism required to acknowledge that...
I agree that it's a monarchy. There are tribal regions with their own degrees of semi to seemingly complete autonomy. How that is represented in terms of institutions within their political system, and what aspects the King of Wakanda has control over (outside of foreign policy) are not clear. In that sense, I do not think it is accurate to describe it as autocratic, especially when we do not see any acts by T'Chaka and T'Challa that would indicate that they rule this way. The King seems to rule with the cooperation of the heads of the other tribes, T'Challa is meeting with them, when Killmonger enters Wakanda. I do not question the possibility for the system to be exploited and that Killmonger ruled this way, but he had effectively seized control of the army through his partnership with W'Kabi/the border tribe, so the other tribes (or possibly branches of government?) are unwilling to challenge him.

I will also add, that one reason why I do not think the film reduces Killmonger (with all of his faults) to a caricature (beyond starting the film with his story, allowing us to share in his pain, which is genuine, even if the ends it lead him to are not) is that the one thing he apparently is successful in doing is destroying the stock of Heart Shaped Herbs, thus ending the traditional reign of Black Panther Kings after himself and T'Challa. We'll have to see if future films hold to or undo this.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Marvel Comics on Film

#47 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue May 22, 2018 2:55 pm

who is bobby dylan wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 2:27 pm
Their system is pretty clearly monarchical, with no sign of any counterbalancing legislative/judicial/etc. institutions, which is basically the definition of autocracy, isn't it? No comparison or whataboutism required to acknowledge that...
I agree that it's a monarchy. There are tribal regions with their own degrees of semi to seemingly complete autonomy. How that is represented in terms of institutions within their political system, and what aspects the King of Wakanda has control over (outside of foreign policy) are not clear. In that sense, I do not think it is accurate to describe it as autocratic, especially when we do not see any acts by T'Chaka and T'Challa that would indicate that they rule this way. The King seems to rule with the cooperation of the heads of the other tribes, T'Challa is meeting with them, when Killmonger enters Wakanda. I do not question the possibility for the system to be exploited and that Killmonger ruled this way, but he had effectively seized control of the army through his partnership with W'Kabi/the border tribe, so the other tribes (or possibly branches of government?) are unwilling to challenge him.

I will also add, that one reason why I do not think the film reduces Killmonger (with all of his faults) to a caricature (beyond starting the film with his story) is that the one thing he apparently is successful in doing is destroying the stock of Heart Shaped Herbs, thus ending the traditional reign of Black Panther Kings after himself and T'Challa. We'll have to see if future films hold to or undo this.
It is a monarchy in which the king wields absolute power, including over the lives of his subjects. That T'Challa or T'Chaka decided to be responsible rulers no more makes their authority less-than absolute than Marcus Aurelius' decision to be a wise and responsible leader made the position of Roman Emperor less-than absolute. If there were actual systemic checks and balances to the rule of the king, Killmonger would not have been able to threaten the lives of his subordinates, immediately alter the social and political programs of the country, and flaunt tradition. He does whatever he wants, and not only is there no official rebuke, reprimand, or control asserted, even those in official positions most loyal to T'Challa (Okoye) are forced to obey him against their wishes and better natures. That in itself gives the lie to your 'he seized control of the army' claim. He plainly didn't have to--the king already has control of the army, just as he has the unquestioned loyalty of the palace guard as seen in Okoye. The only reason there is even a fight at the end is due to a loop hole (T'Challa lives to resume the contest, and then only by illegal outside interference) and the illegal insurgent actions of the previous royal family. You are wrong: Wakanda is run by a tribal warrior cult whose ruler's power is autocratic and seemingly limited only by his own imagination.

Also, all autocratic states have advisors to the ruler. That is not evidence in your favour.

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Re: Marvel Comics on Film

#48 Post by who is bobby dylan » Tue May 22, 2018 3:34 pm

It is not clear that the King wields absolute power. There is no evidence based on T'Chaka or T'Challa's rule that they were autocratic rulers or that the system functioned as an autocracy. We have to base all assumptions about this on Killmonger's brief rule and whether he is acting within the normal powers of the King or going beyond them. How can a King have absolute power over a country that has completely independent regions within it? The tribal leaders aren't just advisers, we know that they control actual geographical boundaries within the country and in the case of the border tribe, a branch of its government. That W'Kabi follows the order of Killmonger to use the army in the way he does is not proof that Killmonger has absolute authority over the army. We do not know if W'Kabi had the power to refuse or if such refusals would be within the norm. The film gives us reasons to believe that he goes along with Killmonger because of his apprehension of Klaw and because he is in ideological agreement with him, this would all be superfluous information if he just had to do it. The only person/group that we know who have a specific loyalty to the King are the Dora Milaje, which makes sense since they are his personal body guards. We also know that the King's reign can be challenged (though the time intervals are not clear) by a representative of any of the tribes, so again, not absolute power. We just don't see any of the King's exercise a wide enough array of powers to know that they rule absolutely. All the powers we do see are essentially related to foreign policy, where you would expect the King to have the most latitude in using their power.

We see Killmonger threaten the life of one subordinate, an older woman in a private setting. That she did not refuse the second order of someone who threatened her with violence is not proof that the King normally has absolute power. The fact that she initially refused the order, until threatened is actually proof of the opposite. If he had absolute power the threat wouldn't have been necessary. The only other people in the room at the time are other older women. That they did not stand up to an enhanced individual, capable of murdering all of them, who had just threatened one of them, is not proof that what is happening is normal.

The reason there is a fight at the end is because Killmonger refuses to resume the challenge and W'Kabi (whom the film has taken pains to show is in ideological agreement with Killmonger) backs Killmonger, in what is in effect a civil war at that point. They never bring up any illegality as to the circumstances of the challenge, so that is imagined on your part. Zuri intervenes (wrongly and is killed). The challenge continues, Killmonger believes he kills T'Challa by throwing him off the side of the falls and the heads of the tribe acknowledge the legality of the outcome. Perhaps you're making the point that M'Baku's people violated the rules by fishing him out of the river instead of letting him die, but no one in the film makes this charge or uses it as a justification for their actions. Whereas Okyoe (who we know adheres to the rules) uses Killmonger's refusal to resume the challenge as a justification for backing T'Challa who is effectively still King at that point.
Last edited by who is bobby dylan on Tue May 22, 2018 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Marvel Comics on Film

#49 Post by tenia » Tue May 22, 2018 3:39 pm

Aaaaaaand... that's why I pretty much don't write about movies anymore, especially here.

I don't mind being explained why I might be wrong (I might be), but I mind being told in such a disdainful manner, especially when it starts by discussing lexical technicalities over substance before anything and ends up thinking for me as if in my head (you're not).

I also mind especially when I took some time to try and articulate in a rather argumentative post my logic for thinking what I think about the movie, trying to explain it as thoroughly as I could (which to me pretty much is the opposite of a shrug). That does not make me right, but I'd thought it'd at least deserve a more polite and deeper kind of answer, not a borderline insulting one. Thinking it's not such a good movie nor one that emboldened so much black Americans doesn't automatically means it's me and not the movie or (of course I should have guessed that would be one of the arguments against a dislike of the movie) my view might be partially racist.

Oh and I couldn't care less about Lebron being black. I don't judge critics this way. I found a similar text from a Swiss website most likely written by a white person, but it turns out Lebron's one is more easy to share since the other one was in French and it seemed to me the Boston review was a relatively respected newspaper.

Finally, the argument "then why does so many African American people liked it ?" doesnt even deserve a personal answer. Seneca spoke centuries ago about masses' jusgement plenty enough already.
If I had to though, I'd use Wonder Woman as a recent movie whose socio-political stance (here a feminist movie) seems not to stand a more thorough analysis.

As for the direct cooperation of the king with the tribes, M'Baku explicitly says that its place hasn't been visited by the royals for generations. It might not be the case for the other tribes though, but having M'Baku saying this sends the message that collaboration doesn't seem that frequent.
Last edited by tenia on Tue May 22, 2018 3:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Marvel Comics on Film

#50 Post by knives » Tue May 22, 2018 3:47 pm

who is bobby dylan wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 3:34 pm
How can a King have absolute power over a country that has completely independent regions within it? The tribal leaders aren't just advisers, we know that they control actual geographical boundaries within the country and in the case of the border tribe, a branch of its government.
A feudal system.

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