Avengers hoodwinked ‘Black Panther’ fans and now Marvel needs to put some respek on Wakanda’s name
SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! This post contains details about the movie that you don’t want to know if you haven’t seen the movie yet so don’t blame us if you continue reading. You’ve been warned!
Last week, I wrote a piece about how Avengers: Infinity War is essentially the sequel to our beloved Black Panther come early. King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and a host of beautiful Black folks blacking it up beautifully in the Afro-futuristic utopia of Wakanda motivated many to hit up a comic book movie for the first time ever; the fact that Infinity War would take us back to Wakanda after just a couple months was quite exciting.
Of course, Infinity War was in the bag well before Panther sold its first ticket, so the latter’s mind-blowing success likely played zero role in the version of the former that was released last week. But considering the extremely Wakanda-centric trailer for Infinity War, I was hoping there would be a bit more…Wakanda. Alas, that wasn’t the case.
I shouldn’t be too disappointed considering Infinity War had to shoehorn several story lines and approximately 3,290,263,953,841 characters in its 160-minute running time. But even the Wakanda and its natives that we did see wasn’t quite as impressive as director Ryan Coogler’s take on the Black Panther storyline.
The first shot of Wakanda—that which got every Black person in every theater hype as the Ludwig Goransson score from Panther started to play—came near the end of the first hour, with T’Challa delivering a new vibranium arm to Bucky, the White Wolf (Sebastian Stan).
Seriously, a whole hour?
And we don’t see the country again until the requisite Marvel Climatic CGI Battle, during which Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) Black Order and their cronies basically drop into Wakanda unannounced, refusing to take their shoes off and rubbing their dirty feet on the couch, like Dave Chappelle’s Rick James.
The black excellence of Black Panther was basically reduced to white people helping out the poor Black folks. Captain America (Chris Evans) was the putative leader of this battle despite T’Challa fighting right along side of him as the king on his own land.
Okoye (Danai Guiria) and the Dora Milaje were essentially non-entities in this fight, and the movie in general. An utter badass in Panther, Okoye couldn’t even handle Proxima Midnight (Carrie Coon) without the help of two white women—Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and that one Olsen girl who wasn’t on Full House.
The two non-Wakanda brothers—Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and War Machine (Don Cheadle)—were flopping around in the air with their pew-pew guns, accomplishing the equivalent of scraping the snow off of a Cadillac Escalade with a teaspoon.
Winston Duke’s M’Baku was basically wasted; all that personality and swagger we got in Panther was reduced to battle cries and rallying the troops (though the ladies, I’m sure, were happy to see him at all). Shuri (Letitia Wright) only got off a couple of plasma shots at the bad guys while trying to retrieve the mind stone from Vision (Paul Bettany) before actually being rescued by Vision himself.
The biggest, most pivotal kills came courtesy of the aforementioned Olsen girl and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) in the Hulkbuster armor. All the power, majesty and overall kick-assedness we saw in Panther was basically reduced to “Colonizers…help us!!!”
Of course, that which has a lot of black folks really agitated is the conclusion of Infinity War, when Thanos finally collects all six infinity stones and wipes out half the universe’s population…including T’Challa. And then, adding insult to ultimate injury, he sits his ass on M’Baku’s throne to survey the aftermath!
Since we all know your auntie’s first comic book movie was Panther and that she only came to see Infinity War because of “that cute boy who played Jackie Robinson,” I’ll forgive her for assuming that T’Challa is done after this film. The rest of y’all show know better, even if you aren’t as familiar with the 27-year-old source material (of which I was a huge fan as a kid).
Do most viewers really believe that next year’s untitled Avengers film—which is basically the equivalent of a part-two like other book-based films, including Harry Potter, Hunger Games and IT—won’t set this “rapture” right? Have folks not read interviews saying that a Black Panther sequel is totally happening? (and a Spider-Man one at that?)
Rule Number One in comic books: dead ain’t dead forever. Expect the same for comic book movies.
As much as I loved Infinity War, I can definitely recognize that a woke black director didn’t handle it—the differences were similar to how the all-female Amazonian society was handled in the Patty Jenkins-directed Wonder Woman film versus how it was depicted in the male-directed Justice League film.
But Marvel hasn’t broken stupid – we’ll get our Black Panther back the way we left him in Coogler’s film. Way too much money has been made to just Caucasoid the whole thing up. So, calm your auntie down and tell her it’ll be okay.