"The Black Panther" is one of those landmark movies that marks a passage in tIme, or a seminal experience in culture and history.
The movie will change the way many people see black Americans, Africa and the world. As it breaks one box office record after another, it will certainly change Hollywood's skittishness about making movies for and about blacks or Africans.
It will also mark the coming of age of the Superhero Genre, which can handle deep subjects, and continues the evolution of women as characters who are both fierce and feminine.
The movie offers a shocking creative lesson in history: what would be like if Africa had not been colonized?
I have to say that one of the messages of this movie is the angry old white men who have taken over our country are on the wrong side of history. I think the movie is at least partly about that.
Our world is changing, and if you want a dose of how, just make sure to see this movie if you can get in. We're just not going back, like it or not, things have gone way too far.
"The Black Panther," at the core, a very timely movie about leadership, compassion and honesty, the contrast between Wakanda and the United States is drawn for us so sharply it hurts. The movie never talks open about our politics, it doesn't have to.
It's a brilliant movie in many ways, gripping, rich in color and feeling, and stunningly creative.
Africans have long wondered what their continent and their countries would be like if they had not been overcome and chopped up by European countries. On a different track, black Americans have often wondered what their lives would be like if they had not been enslaved and brought to America against their will. Tough stuff for a Superhero movie to take on, and so successfully.
You do not have to be black or of African descent to relate to this movie.
In our time, we wonder what has happened to the idea of brave, compassionate, and ethical leadership in our government. "The Black Panther" takes on all of these questions and issues very effectively, wonderfully in fact. This is a Superhero movie that is touching, dramatic and intense, much, much deeper, more colorful and evocative than the genre has ever delivered.
This movie was on my radar last year, when the first trailer came out and drew 28 million views on YouTube. Although almost all of the characters are black, white Americans of all ages are storming movie theaters to see it, it is expected to earn more than $200 million dollars over this weekend.
I remember reading the first "Black Panther" comics, created in the 1960's by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, two Jewish cartoonists and writers. He popped up occasionally, but was always overshadowed by Superheroes who were white.
I was much impressed by the way in which Director Ryan Coogler transcended the typical cultural portrayals of race in America, and yet made one of the most powerful films about the black experience ever made.
Wakanda is clearly made to be a rebuke both to colonialism and slavery, it images vividly what an African nation might have been like today had it not been invaded, partitioned and brutalized by white Colonials and slave traders from Europe and North America.
I can only imagine what a seminal movie this film might be for young black Americans, who have rarely seen themselves in movies or on television in such a powerful and compelling a way. Or in any way.
Chadwick Boseman was astounding as Tchalla, the Black Panther and King of Wakanda. I kept thinking during the movie how wonderful it would be if we could have a leader as humane, ethical and responsible as Tchalla is, and I heard many people in the theater say the same thing when the lights came up.
I am surprised to be saying it, and I can't say if it's true, but I would not be surprised to learn that King Tchalla was created as an anti-Trumpian figure, he is everything our President is not – humbl, brave, honest and full of empathy and compassion. He does not lie, bluster, or bully, loving his enemies as much as his friends. Could this portrayal, this contrast, really be an accident?
The movie is a visual joy, mind-boggling action and war scenes, the enchanting and evocative portrayal Wakanda, a technological, advanced, humane kind of country that has kept itself hidden from the world. A thoughtful leader seeking to do right. The message is clear enough, the country is so successful precisely because they did not interact with the wider world.
They stayed away from white people, and thus were safe and evolved.
I admit it was startling to see the female African-American geeks of Wakanda develop and demonstrate extraordinary feats of invention and technology. The tech stuff was often as good as Star Wars or Close Encounters. And the women of the Palace Guard were as exotic as they were fierce. And they didn't have to put ridiculous things on their head or change their hair. They were themselves.
They were just awesome, but I have never seen young black women portrayed that way in movies with such dignity and balance.
Disney has really gotten great in portraying women in new and exciting ways, most recently in Wonder Woman and Star Wars and Frozen and other recent animated films. Men may try to harass and dominate them, but Oprah was right, their time is up. I got the strong feeling watching this movie that history is more powerful than any politicians.
The women in "The Black Panther" are not sidekicks or incidental, they are warriors and guardians of the soul of their kingdom. They are also fearsome warriors who show great love and devotion for their kingdom and their King.
I have the feeling the girls and women who grow up watching these movies will know just what to do if somebody tries to stick his tongue in their mouths without permission.
Wakanda is a timely movie, it is asking many of the same questions Americans are asking – how can they protect their amazing nation if they open themselves up to the world, and let the "others" in?
I won't give the ending away, but at one point in the movie, Director Ryan Coogler sent a sly and very pointed message – the King of Wakanda decides to spent millions of dollars of his country's vast wealth – they control all of a precious metal – to help ease the neglected poor in an American city. That one stung. As we give less, they give more.
They ultimately respond in very different ways than America, that is sad. In Wakanda, people love their country and care about honor. They ponder their responsibilities to the world, and they fight to protect their children.
The movie practically explodes with soul and style and color and proves beyond doubt that a comic-book inspired movie can break ground and be profoundly meaningful. The super themes of the movie are pride, identity and personal responsibility. This is a new kind of movie, comic book spawned or not, I think it is a Supermovie all of its own.
I thought the movie stumbled in some minor ways. There were some "Lion King" moments that seemed a bit too contrived and staged. The finale seemed endless to me, but not to the scores of young men and women in the theater.
The movie is two and a half-hours long, and doesn't need to be. There is a lot of violence, but it is Disney violence, you can watch a thousand people die and not see a drop of blood.
The battle at the end seemed as long as World War II. Bring a cushion for your butt. But I would absolutely go see it, and more than once.