If we adopted Scientologist terms in fandom I’d probably be deemed as a negative influence or suppressive person because of the way I talk about the things I’ve seen and experienced in fandom spaces. I’ve had my opinions invalidated, my analysis responded to with condescension, and my inbox invaded by assholes. I even wound up […]
Hi! Welcome to the 101 class about the Black Panther movie. I’m here to speak on this topic because I managed to graduate to the 201 class. I am by no means an expert on Black Panther, Wakanda, or even the current version of the comic books. I have mastered basic information about who is who, what is what, and what I personally enjoy.
So the Black Panther trailer dropped Friday, and those of you who refuse to read comic books, or don’t pay that close attention to Marvel Superhero movies, are probably wondering what all the excitement is about. Why are black people so giddy? Who the hell is Black Panther? Is he related to Malcolm X?
Okay. I see we have our work cut out for us. Alright, c’mon over here and sit down, so we can work this whole thing out. I’m gonna do this by giving some background on the character, and breaking down some shit in the trailer.
The Black Panther first appeared in Marvel Comics in 1966, which slightly predates the Black Panther Political Party, so there’s no relation. This is notable because he’s the first black superhero to show up in the comics, predating both Luke Cage (Wooo!) and The Falcon. Black Panther’s real name is T’Challa and he’s a prince of the country of Wakanda, located in Africa. His father, T’Chaka, was played by John Kani in Captain America Civil War. After his father’s assassination T’Challa inherited the Kingdom.
This movie is remarkable for several reasons. It has a huge all-star cast of primarily black actors and actresses. Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, and Forest Whitaker, are all Oscar nominated/winning actors. It has a large “dark skinned” female cast. There are more women in this cast than are featured in almost all the MCU films together. In the comic books, these are characters with names and backstories. Where this movie will truly past the Fabulosity test is if any of the women speak to one another about anything other than T’Challa, although even without that, this is still great representation for Black women who rarely, if ever get to play primary, action oriented roles in such films.
Its also remarkable for the introduction of the term Afro-Futurism into everyday discourse. Yep! This is a phrase you’re going to be seeing a lot more often in conjunction with discussions about this movie.
*Afrofuturism is a cultural aesthetic, philosophy of science, and philosophy of history that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentrism, and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique not only the present-day dilemmas of black people, but also to revise, interrogate, and re-examine the historical events of the past.
Not only is this an almost entirely Black cast, so are many of behind-the-scenes talent. The director is Ryan Coogler, the award winning director of Creed and Fruitvale Station. Hannah Beachler is the Production Designer. She was also the Designer for Moonlight, and Beyonce’s Lemonade. Ruth Carter is the Costume Designer, and has worked on Selma, Serenity, and the remake of Oldboy.
*There are people out here asking why we’re so hyped for Black Panther.
Like…in case you haven’t noticed…there’s literally a million and five big budget franchise movies centered around white super heroes.
Black Panther shows a black super hero who is the king of an extremely prominent and technologically advanced African country with his badass royal guard that consist of badass black women in all their natural glory and it portrays black people as something other than poor, enslaved, or savage.
Regardless if you understand or not…that is huge for black people.
Black Panther: Chadwick Boseman
After the death of his father in Captain America, T’Challa becomes King, and inherits the mantle of The Black Panther, which is a generational position as Guardian of the country of Wakanda. The Black Panthers inherit their superpowers by eating a mystical herb, which grants them the strength and speed of the Panther God, worshiped in Wakanda. He is one of the wealthiest men in the world, and something of a technological genius, responsible for some of the tech and hardware you’ll see in the movie.
“After the events of Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, King T’Challa returns home to the reclusive, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to serve as his country’s new leader. However, T’Challa soon finds that he is challenged for the throne from factions within his own country. When two foes conspire to destroy Wakanda, the hero known as Black Panther must team up with C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross and members of the Dora Milaje, Wakandan special forces, to prevent Wakanda from being dragged into a world war.”
For a closer look at this character, and his abilities, see Captain America Civil War, now available on Netflix, and read Ta-Nehisi Coates current run of the comics, (although there are other versions).
Everett Ross: Martin Freeman
This is one of only two white faces you’re going to see in the rest of this trailer, and probably the movie. Everett Ross only gets a still picture because he does nothing gifworthy beyond being annoying to the other characters in Civil War. If you see any critiques about how this character is the hero of Black Panther… RUN!!SAVE YOURSELF!! You have wandered into a cluster of White Man’s Nonsense.
Ulysses Klaue: Andy Serkis
You may remember this character from Avengers Ultron, where he lost his arm, and got the privilege of locking ScarJo in a cage, I think. No, this movie isn’t about him either, but he gets the gif treatment because I like Andy Serkis. If you see reviews focused on either Ross, or Klaue’s important roles in the film, I urge you to escape that review, STAT!!!, and immediately Google a review from a Black critic, as you have probably wandered into a field of White Gibberish. Save your brain cells!! That person is not logicking correctly and that shit is contagious.
Wakanda is a fictional nation, hidden, isolated, and futuristic, located in the central part of Africa. Its meant to represent what an African country would be like if it had been allowed to develop without colonization or exploitation by the West. Wakanda is one the wealthiest nations on the continent because of its large Vibranium reserves.
In the comic books, the central city of Wakanda is surrounded by 18 other city-states, that are constantly vying for power. You can catch glimpses of these various tribal kingdoms in the trailer.
The Dora Milaje (Dora Meh-lah-shay):
The Dora Milaje are the King’s Elite (Special Forces) Bodyguards. In English, their name means, The Adored Ones. In the comic books they were also considered potential wives for the King, specially trained warriors, who were selected from the surrounding tribes by the King, in an effort to keep the peace between the various rival tribes. These young girls are groomed from a very early age to be warriors.
The Dora Milaje are the best warriors of Wakanda. They have defeated Namor, and fought even Storm and Black Widow to a standstill, although it is rumored, that over the years, many Black Widows never made it out of Wakanda alive, thanks to them.
It’s the custom for them to have shaved heads. No, they are not the King’s special booty call, as Adored One is a ceremonial title. They are not his harem.
Okoye: Danae Gurira
Danae is most famous for her role as Michonne on the Walking Dead. She’s the King’s first , speaking only to him and only in a rare language. This was so the King and his wives could speak in private while out in public. Think of her as something like the head of a federal organization that only answers to the president.
Ayo is the Dora Milaje we got to see for the first time in Captain America Civil War. She said six words and stole half the movie. They better not let her say too much in this movie or none of us will remember why the hell we were sittin’ in the theater.
Nakia: Lupita Nyong’o
This is Nakia, played by the Oscar Award winning Lupita Nyong’o. In the the comic books Nakia is a mutant of some kind, with enhanced speed, agility, and strength. She later becomes a villain named Malice.
Erik Killmonger: Michael B. Jordan
Killmonger is played by Michael “Bae” Jordan from Coogler’s last film, Creed, and unfortunately from The Fantastic Four, but the first time I saw him was in the movie Chronicle. He is one of T’Challa’s rivals for the throne of Wakanda, and plays a pivotal role in the movie. In the books, Erik harbors a grudge against T’Challa for exiling him to America, after the death of his father, who had been branded a traitor. When Erik returned he plunged himself into Wakandan history and traditions, and this radicalized him. So now he preaches against outside Western influences, and wants to rule so that he can make the country more isolationist.
Ramonda: Angela Bassett
C’mon! Ya’ll know who Angela Bassett is. Ramonda is T’Challa’s mother. Note the white hair. Disney doesn’t possess the rights to Storm from the X-Men, who is T’Challa’s in canon ex-wife, but they can troll the film company that does, by casting the woman who was born to play that role, and making her up to look like her in this movie.
Shuri: Letitia Wright
This Princess of Wakanda is T’Challa’s little sister from a different mother. She is the Wakandan genius behind most of the tech you’ll see in the movie, including those nifty little cat gloves she’s wearing in the trailer. I don’t know what they do but I want them. Shuri is the very definition of Afro – Futurism, combining her country’s cultural traditions with technological concepts beyond even Tony Stark’s skills.
In the books, Shuri is a warrior who was trained by her brother to take over his mantle should the need arise, and who, on occasion, has had to step in and become The Black Panther, in her own right, after one of her brother’s extended absences. Here she’s been re-written as a tech genius.
Daniel Kaluuya: W’Kabi
I got nothing about this guy. I’ve never paid much attention to him beyond that he grew up with and is T’Challa’s second in command and advisor. You know him as the actor from the movie Get Out.
Forest Whitaker: Zuri
Zuri is played by Forest Whitaker, is a veteran warrior, and one of T’Challa’s senior advisers.
*On a more serious note we have to talk about this issue here:
Since the release of the trailer onto the national stage, I know some of you guys who are the most excited about this movie, have experienced an influx of racist gibberish into all of your inboxes. There’s something about this movie that has truly galvanized racist geeks into a paroxysm of harassment. (Well I simply can’t imagine what that might be.)
I’ve been warning my friends on Tumblr, and other social media to have their Block finger ready because it’s going to get a lot of exercise. And it’s not just the white racist dudebros out there either. You have a lineup of various hoteps, and native Africans making static too. Everybody whose got a beef with black people have their fingers tapping, and mouths flapping, to destroy this movie, which is an utterly pointless pursuit.
You’ve got people writing racist meta about how unrealistic Wakanda is, because Africa is such an undeveloped country, how Black people are acting too uppity, and culturally appropriating African cultures, the poster for the movie is militant, there are going to be riots and shootings at the theaters on the day of the movie’s release, and a complete basket full of nonsense. Basically people out there projecting every one of their racial and social insecurities onto this movie, and it hasn’t even been released yet. And its only going to get worse as the movie nears its release date.
And all because black people are giddy about a movie trailer.
*Black Panther is a FICTIONAL movie about a FICTIONAL country in Africa so people need to stop projecting all of their issues on to it and let ALL black people enjoy something for once. Seriously. CAN WE STOP WITH THOSE STUPID DIASPORA BATTLES THAT HAPPEN EVERY TIME BLACK AMERICANS GET *ANYTHING* POSITIVE?!
This isn’t my essay, but it says want I want to say much more eloquently. This is from an AfroFuturist tumblr site, and is very deep and entertaining. Please give them a visit.
I’m sure everyone has seen the trailer for the Marvel Black Panther movie that is set to be released next year. And if we are to be honest, we are over the roof excited about it. Have you seen the memes!? The ones showing how we’re going to go dressed for the premier? Have you seen the amount of views the trailer has on YouTube!? 2018 can not come any sooner!! So, tell me why, in between all the excitement and anticipation for the movie, we still see people hating on it?
So, one person called it “unrealistic” and “poorly put together in order to give Blacks a place in the entertainment industry”. And I’m like, “the name is science FICTION, afrofuturist to be exact, and the sole purpose of such work is to not just envision Blacks in the future but as the agents and subjects of the future.”
And then, I saw this post asking how can Wakanda be so technologically advanced and yet it had no imperialistic goals and its innovations did not spread to anywhere else. Y’all remember Avatar? The one with the blue people with tails that were primitive and highly developed at the same time? They loved that movie right? So why the lack of love for Black Panther then?
Could it be because it is BLACK PANTHER? Could it be because it shows Blacks not just as props and prawns but in the center as kings and leaders and scientists and warriors? But anyway, I hope this is one of many afrofuturist works to be produced because it’s about time we have a place in the future, in science fiction.
*But here’s the thing, this movie is going to be released. Its a done deal. Its going to do as well as any of the other MCU films to date. No amount of online harassment, from people who can’t stand to see Black people being happy about something, is going to stop us from going to the theater, and seeing it multiple times.
Now I’m done with this particular topic!
Read about it at Indiewire.com. Among them: Chinese Malaysian and Vietnamese-American director Jennifer Phang (Advantageous) and Persian director Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, The Bad Batch).
So I’ve been ranting a bit about diversity in Wonder Woman (okay a lot) & I could pretend that this was the only time. But I did the same with Agent Carter. Because canon in comics is actually more diverse than what makes it to the screen. And when it comes to comics (or any other media) with a historic setting (think Regency, Victorian, either World War or of antiquity) there is an unfortunate tendency to ignore the reality of those times. People will believe in Wonder Woman’s magic lasso or the Red Skull, but balk at major characters being darker than a paper bag. And then they will insist it isn’t racism it is about historical accuracy.
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Originally published on The Future Fire As a writer, storyteller, and a queer person of color, it goes without saying that diversity and inclusion is very important to me. Anyone who’s known me for five seconds is aware of the fact that I’m a rabid comic book fan. It’s modern day mythology and as a […]
This episode is Mad Sweeney’s elegy. He is also one of the more unlikable characters in the show., but it turns out he’s not actually a bad man, and has heart of gold. In the real world, someone like Sweeney would get their ass kicked on a regular basis, (actually he does in the show, too) but he is a great character.
Normally, I like fictionalized assholes as much as I like real world ones, which is to say not at all, but from time to time I get captured by a great depiction, and Sweeney is one of those. Pablo Schreiber plays the hell outta this guy, and I have to give him some props, especially when I had no idea who he was before this show.
One small dislike for me is that this is another filler episode, that distracts from the greater narrative revolving around Shadow and Wednesday. I didn’t dislike this episode, it’s just that I’m less interested in what Laura and Sweeney are up to. But tonight’s episode was devastating in its implications about the relationship between Laura and Sweeney, deepening it, and explaining a lot of the dynamic between the two of them.
The episode begins at the Anubis funeral home, where Mr Ibis and Mr. Jaquel not only lay out corpses for burial, but can even predict when corpses will arrive. I thought it was interesting getting a glimpse into their relationship. Are they a couple? Are they brothers? Just friends? They’re always considerate and polite to each other, and know each other too well. Mr. Ibis tells Sweeney’s story through the eyes of an Irish girl named Essie, who looks suspiciously like Emily Browning. Laura is not the reincarnation of Essie, though. Its that Laura reminds Sweeney of Essie, and I think he’s starting to like her.
The episode is split between Laura’s and Sweeney’s modern day road trip, and Sweeney’s past, when he knew Essie. This follows the book pretty closely. Essie has a very colorful life, as a thief, an indentured servant, then a wife and mother, and finally grandmother, where she often traded on her looks to get ahead, aided by her gifts to, and stories, about “The Good Folk”. Notice that whenever Essie stops giving to the good folk, they stop giving to her.
There’s a scene where Essie is in Newgate prison, after having not made an offering for a time, and Mad Sweeney is in the next cell, and she tells him stories. She tells him about her wish for a good life, quiet and settled, a tree, some children. She makes an offering to the Good People using the only food she has available, a piece of rotten bread. Eventually she gets out of Newgate and gets sent back to America where her wish comes true, because she made an offering of her last bite of food.
Eventually she has to stop telling her stories about the Fair Folk, realizing that there’s no place in her current world for belief in such things. But she never stops believing, and upon her death, it is Sweeney who comes to collect her soul.
The term Good Folk is a reference to the Fay, or any Fairy creatures of Celtic folklore. The general idea in most people’s minds are the tiny, butterfly beings that frequent rings in meadows, or Tinkerbell, but the term encompasses a greater variety of creatures than just those, (some of which are pretty horrific, deadly, and not at all tiny. See any book by the painter/illustrator, Brian Froud.) Irish folklore is pretty complicated though, and you could spend your entire life studying the subject.
*For background on Faery lore, and myth:
*And for background on the real mythology behind Mad Sweeney:
Sweeney, Salim, and Laura stop at the site of the White Buffalo statue.The legend of the White Buffalo is somewhere around 2,000 years old, and was originally a tradition of the Lakota Sioux, a Plains Tribe. This particular scene, like all the modern day scenes, which involve Laura and Sweeney, don’t happen in the book.
For those of you concerned that there haven’t been any Native gods depicted, I think Shadow’s dreams count. In the book, they don’t play a pivotal role until much much later, and are responsible for interfering in the war, coming in on Shadow’s behalf. I expect we may not see them until well into second season. Although I do agree they should be introduced in some greater form beyond the forgotten Nunyunnini.
While at their rest, Sweeney is visited by one of Odin’s birds, who he harshly chastises. He mistakenly lets Laura know that all the gods are meeting at a tourist attraction/resort called House on the Rock in Wisconsin. Now that she knows where Shadow is going, Laura decides to release Salim from his bargain to take her to a resurrectionist friend of Sweeny. She tells Salim to go get his Jinn. He happily leaves, but not without (hilariously) informing Sweeney of what a vile creature he is. (Yes, he is, but Sweeney also has a lot of secrets.)
That morning, Laura talked with Salim, asking him if he loved God, or was “in love’ with God. He answered in the affirmative. I think Laura is seeking an answer to her own questions of how she feels about Shadow. She may not have loved Shadow when she was alive, but I think she is certainly loves him now, (or is obsessed or something) and part of that may be the supernatural connection that exists between them, because I dont tihnk she is “in love” with him.
Laura hasn’t looked at peace since she was resurrected, so I just want to point out, during this episode, we often see her quietly smiling to herself when contemplating Shadow. I think she is finally at peace in a way she never was in life. She has a goal and a purpose now, that was missing, when she was alive. Shadow is her purpose. He’s her god, now. He is literally her reason for living and not only has she realized that, she’s okay with it. She even seems happy about it. Yeah, she is stalking Shadow, but if you’ve ever read John Campbell’s Hero’s Journey books, then there’s a purpose to it.
While driving, Sweeney gives Laura some more background. He tells her about his hoard of gold, that he used to be a king in Ireland, that he was once a bird, and then a saint according to the prevailing beliefs of whatever time period in which he lived. He ran away from so long ago war in which he knew he would die. He gave up his sword and vowed not to get involved again, but he owes Wednesday a war, which explains his objections to Wednesday’s warmongering between the old and new gods, but also his refusal to leave.
Keep in mind, Sweeney is a leprechaun, which is a kind of Celtic deity. Although Laura is more powerful than him, he is not without power of his own, as illustrated by him easily stomping a park bench, without breaking a sweat. His speech to Laura is a reference for how diminished the gods have become as people’s belief in them changed, and leprechauns have been demoted to cute cartoon characters on cereal boxes, something which bears almost no relation to what he actually is, or even looks like.
One of the rules of being a Fey is one can only take what’s freely given, so when we see Sweeney throw the coins out if the vehicle, its becasue he took the ice cream out of the freezer, and the owner wasn’t there. When he and Laura stole the truck, Laura gave the owner of the truck all of his money, so he doesn’t object to that. He didn’t have to leave anything behind in return for stealing Salim’s taxi because he was interrupted before he could finish.
One of the questions that is confusing to a lot of people about American Gods is if these gods can die. If all it takes is a belief in them, then can they really be killed. Vulcan is is killed in the last episode. But he is definitely a god, people actually believed in a version of him. Does that mean some other version of him will take his place? Does Wednesday’s curse prevent this from happening? Just as there are different versions of Jesus, there are different versions of ods like Wednesday and Sweeney, wherever they are believed.
For example, in one of the last scenes from the book, Shadow meets a more authentic version of Wednesday in his home country. He is a more original form in his country of origin, and acknowledges Wednesday as an offshoot of him. I don’t think the gods can travel to anyplace where they are not believed in. Wednesday can’t leave America, and hasn’t done so, as he says to Shadow in one of their earlier discussions. When the new gods offer to make a missile in his name, over North Korea, Wednesday refers to it as a form of exile, and it would only be that way if belief in him were transferred, from America, to the missile system over North Korea.
Another treat we get in this episode is the white rabbit. The white rabbit is a sign of the goddess Easter, or Ostara, a pagan fertility goddess. She is also the goddess of Spring and renewal. Her imagery often involves hares and rabbits. We will meet Ostara in the season finale. When a White rabbit hops into the middle of the road, Laura swerves to avoid it, crashing their vehicle. She flies out the windshield, and loses the coin, after which there is another revelation, as Sweeney contemplates her dead body.
Sweeney was the one who caused Laura’s first death in a car crash, and he feels some kind of way about that. Incidentally the words he’s screaming, after the truck crash, are in Old Irish, not Gaelic. Something along the lines of, “Why is this shit happening to me? Haven’t I suffered enough? And I’m not an evil man!” Which is ironic after being told by Salim that he is an unpleasant creature.
Wednesday has been trying really hard to keep Laura and Shadow apart, and was the orchestrator of her death. He was responsible for hiring Sweeney to kill her the first time, and I’m certain he’s responsible for hiring Ostara to crash their vehicle this time, since the rabbit which caused it, is her symbol. Laura is meant to die again and she does, when the coin, that Sweeney has made clear that’s all he’s interested in, pops out of her open chest cavity. Sweeney retrieves his coin and he could walk away, but flashing back to the night he first killed her, he changes his mind and places the coin back in her chest. He immediately regrets it, of course, when Laura punches him out, for touching her. The two of them continue their journey.
I also want to mention the music in this episode is so spot on, it’s hilarious. During the scene where Essie absconds with her latest husband’s money to become a market thief, the theme is Runaround Sue by Dion. Daddy’s Home by Shep and the Limelights, is the song that plays the first time she offers bread to the Good Folk in America, an unknowingly summoning Sweeney.
Next week is the season finale, titled Come to Jesus, so I guess there will be some Jesus involved. The show has already been picked up for a second season, and if we’re lucky it will continue for many more beyond the story of the book.
*From Dark Matters Blog, a collection of video reactions to the Black panther trailer. you gotta watch these. They will make you smile:
*Yeah, I don’t think people are realizing what a groundbreaking moment this is for us. Just like Wonder Woman brought so many women to tears, this seems to be having the same effect on those of the diaspora. Here on this blog, I’ve often jokingly referred to the release date of this movie as, The Ascension.
I don’t think people fully and completely realize just how much visual media matters. How much it has not just reflected the world, but shaped it, and made the world what it is. Those of us who know this realize the impact that movies like Ghostbusters, Wonder Woman and Black Panther can have.
I want Asian-American men and women, LGBTQ, Latinx, Native Americans, everybody to have this same amount of representation in movies, and get it all the time, so that movies like Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad, and Black Panther are not outliers.
Here are some more reactions from Tumblr:
Idk what the appropriate level of emotion is when you’re in a fandom already but y’all I keep bursting into tears seeing all these beautiful edits and gifsets of black panther
This movie is so important. It might be the most important superhero movie of all time. Think of all the black children who are treated like shit from the world around them walking into a movie theater.
This is the movie we need.
*From behind the scenes:
*Wonder Women is accessible to ALL women, but it’s not FOR WoC in the same way that it’s for White women. I want White women to have that moment when you’re sitting in a movie theater in tears because you’re so happy. I also want everybody else to have that moment. That said, I also want for people to just let us enjoy this time, and to come out in support of this movie the way we came out for WW.
Dear white women feminists who loved Wonder Woman–
Listen, I also loved Wonder Woman. But I also think that Diana would be the first to note that we are not free until we are all free. So if you posted a thousand times about how important WW was for little girls to see, then I hope you are also prepared to post a thousand times about how important the new Black Panther movie is for black kids- girls and boys- to see.
I saw Wonder Woman, and I teared up the first time she stormed the battlefield in her full regalia. But, as a black woman, I couldn’t not notice that the women who looked like me played supporting, and largely non-speaking, background parts. Black Panther is the chance for women who look like me to see ourselves as the heroes in our own story. To see ourselves as warriors, as epic royalty, as fully actualized superheroes. In a major studio blockbuster, no less. Never- not ever- has that happened before.
We are looking forward to your support.
I am all about Wonder Woman and I am definitely all about Black Panther.
But mostly what I really want is a WOC superhero movie. Every woman and every girls should feel what I felt watching that movie and while the gender is the same, race does matter. REPRESENTATION FUCKING MATTERS.
I want black and brown girls to see someone just like them playing the hero. I want them to look at that screen and say, “She’s me!” Because it matters.
so as it turns out, there is no such thing as superhero movie fatigue. we all just tired of watching the same white dude in the lead.
y’all gon see me walking into theater in full dora milaje gear on opening night for black panther
im making my auntie tie my head wrap so i can sit in front of white people and block the screen
when they ask you to take down your head wrap, turn them, smile and just say “reparations” and go back to watching the movie
It’s gonna be cold as fuck here but I’m gonna be in full kente and a headwrap.
From John Boyega, whose movie, Pacific Rim II, drops in March of 2018.
me presenting my 56 slide , 2 hour long presentation on why everyone is gonna watch black panther and im not gonna hear any complaints from ANYONE bc we all know that its gonna save the MCU:
*And from the trailer:
And in the “This Is Ridiculous” Column:
I just want all of y’all to be prepared for a full eight months of White noise, gibberish, and tears, as racist cockroaches come out of the woodwork to crawl all over Black people’s happiness.
There’s a certain type of White bigot who sees Black people (any race of people that’s not them, really) being happy about something that’s important to them, who will then go out of their way to throw water on them.
Y’all knew this was coming tho’. As soon as all of America got to see the trailer during the NBA finals, that was the cue for the White whiner to go into danger mode like:
But I’m not letting these people take away my joy, and neither is anybody else. We just gonna, in the immortal words of Taylor Shifty, “Shake it Off”:
Okay, I’m still a bit giddy, as you can tell. Later, I’ll have something a little more substantial to add to this conversation, as I give those of you who do not read comic books, but are still excited about this movie, the Black Panther 411.
I liked to complain about how ridiculous Adam West was, and how silly the Batman show was, but I grew up with him. I watched Batman in reruns as a kid. That show was often a lot of kids introduction to Batman anyway. At least for people my age. So I’m always gonna have a soft spot for Adam, and I’m gonna miss him.
I had written an essay about this but scrapped it, because I wasn’t saying what I wanted to say, without getting sidetracked by secondary issues. I think some other writers have explained this a lot more clearly than I would have.
Note: We are not saying that WW is a bad movie, or that the 25 year old white nerdgirls at which this film is aimed, shouldn’t enjoy it. Love the fuck outta this movie, if that’s your appealing! I understand that there are a bunch of Jewish women who are really loving the representation from Godot. I got it. Hell, we got Luke Cage, and Black Panther, so let Jewish women have their thing.
Let me make something clear though: I don’t hate the movie. Its not much different than the many, many, other action movies, starring a white woman, from Selene, to Ripley, to Sarah Connor, that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, and even loved. I’ve also heard its a fun movie, so that’s not what this criticism is about. What I’m having a problem with is, once again, white women are putting themselves in the position of speaking for ALL women, in saying that this movie is a win for feminist representation in superhero movies, without considering intersectional feminism. Black women can count on one hand the amount of real representation we have in superhero movies, and in this movie specifically. For Latinas, and Asian American women, it’s even less. None of them are adequately represented in this movie either.
My problem is with white women’s claims about this movie, not the movie itself (which is a whole other subject.)
As both a woman and a longtime fan of superhero movies, the success of Wonder Woman at the box office has made me happier than I can express. But as a black woman and a longtime fan of superhero movies, the actual content of Wonder Woman depressed me. Racking up $200 million worldwide on its first weekend, Wonder Woman‘s status as a superhero film starring a woman and directed by a woman has made it a feminist victory in ways having nothing to do with the all-female island of Themyscira and the inclusion of lines like “Be careful in the world of men, Diana. They do not deserve you.” But I’m sorry to say that Wonder Woman is just a white feminist victory — barely. For black feminists, it’s exactly like every other superhero movie, just with a white female lead.
Here’s a list of most, if not all, the top Superhero movies being released in the next two years. But first, some background, because for some reason, people love these mini slice-of -life snippets, that I keep adding to my posts.
I think I’ve said before, that I’m a huge comic book fan, and most of what I read were superhero comics. I wasn’t a big DC reader as a child. For some reason DC Comic books weren’t as child accessible as Marvel. On the other hand, DC had a lot more shows on television, when I was little, like Shazaam, Wonder Woman, and Batman. I started by reading Peanuts and Archie comics when I was about seven or six, then graduated to Conan and Red Sonja around age eight, Horror comics like EC, and Eerie by the time I was ten, and then, by the time I was twelve, to books like Swamp Thing, and most of the Marvel superhero books.
Somewhere in one of those comics, I saw ads for Doctor Strange and the X-Men. I distinctly remember staring at those ads, wondering who these characters were, and why hadn’t I ever heard of them, because they looked fascinating. I didn’t start reading Justice League, Justice Society, Batman, and Superman comics until I was an adult in college, because my friends were into those books.
So once again, unlike most kids, I did not follow the traditional path to liking superheroes, by starting with Batman and Superman, although I watched all the DC shows and movies, followed by the apparently required reading of The Watchmen. I didn’t read that until I was an adult, and by that time, I was unimpressed by it. (But that’s probably the reason I was one of the five people who loved the movie becasue that’s how that works.)
And I’m still being contrary today. I do not enjoy being contrary. That’s just how everything works out. Since I’m a visual artist, (someday I’ll get up enough nerve to show y’all some of my old drawings) I have had training, but the past few years I’ve taken a hiatus from drawing, in favor of other artistic pursuits. I usually latch onto an artist and just follow them around from book to book, and series to series. Some of my favorites are Barry Windsor-Smith from the early Conan books, Bill Sienkiewicz for his short stint on The New Mutants, Alan Grant for his work on Excalibur, Geof Darrow for anything, Adam Hughes, Arthur Adams, and of course Alex Ross. (Naturally, I don’t draw like any of them, no matter how much I’d love to.)
I’ve since gotten away from reading superhero comics, except for the occasional Batman, Wolverine, or Midnighter collection. I don’t buy them like I used to , and most of my comic book action happens digitally these days, and are independent projects, like Shaolin Cowboy, Hellboy, and Cimarronin, and the various movies and TV shows. The last comic I bought online was Enormous.
So here is a list of the comic book movies, I’m most interested in, (although that doesn’t mean I’m going to see them in the theater) for the next couple of years:
Justice League (11/17)
I’m cautiously excited about this. I didn’t care for BtVS, I don’t like Batfleck, and I’m not a fan of Amber Heard. On the other hand, I love Jason Momoa, who looks as if he’s having the time of his life, in the trailer; and this movie’s version of The Flash, just because he’s really cute.
Thor Ragnarok (10/27)
I’m a huge fan of Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Thor’s new haircut, and the Avengers version of the Hulk. Will I see it. I don’t know.
Spiderman Homecoming (7/7)
I’m actually looking forward to seeing this. Its got a diverse cast, and that little Tom Holland is just as cute as the dickens.
Black Panther (2/9)
The Ascension is Nigh!
Avengers Infinity War Pt. 1 (4/27)
?????? I got nothing!
Ant Man and the Wasp (6/29)
New Mutants (4/13)
More of these ???????
Deadpool 2 (6/1)
Yeah, I’m in!
The Incredibles 2
I loved the first movie. If the story is any good, I’ll have my butt in the seat when its released.
I like this character, but I still feel this should be a horror movie, and that Tom Holland should be in it.
Dark Pheonix (11/2)
Nope. I have never cared about the Phoenix, and I ain’t about to start now!
After 2018 Honorable Mentions:
I’ll go see this if the story is any good, becasue I love the character.
I love these books, and I’d get a kick out of seeing them on the big screen, even in animated form.
So, just as Superheroes have taken over the movie theaters for the next few years, they’re also coming to a television near you. Here’s a partial list of most, if not all, of the superhero, and superhero adjacent, shows coming to TV this Summer and Fall.
I’ve read most of the comic books associated with these titles, so those I’m looking forward to. I will probably watch the pilots for at least half of these, but as to whether or not I’ll make them a regular viewing habit, I can’t say.
Shows In Development
The Inhumans (9/1)
I was never a fan of the books, but many of these characters have been featured in other works, so I know about Black Bolt and Medusa. I like Black Bolt but I can’t say I’m enthusiastic about this show because it looks seriously cheap, and the show runner is the same lack-skill that worked on Iron Fist, Scott Buck. I have a special level of contempt for him, so you must forgive me if I decide to skip this.
The Gifted (Fall)
I was under the impression that this is based on The New Mutants comic books. I’ve always been a huge fan of that comic, but I’m thoroughly incurious about this show. I’m not interested in watching earnest looking teens with superpowers.
This is the new Will Smith D&D movie airing on Netflix. I’ll watch Will in pretty much anything.
Black Lightning (2017)
Yeah, I’m gonna actually try to watch this. I’ve only read a single one of the comic books, so I’m walking into this one with no preconceptions, and no knowledge outside of: he’s got some daughters, and they got superpowers.
The Punisher (November – Netflix)
I’ve never been a Punisher fan. I’ve always thought of him as boring, and unimaginative, but I know a lot about him because he kept starring in every other character’s book. Marvel loves crossovers. I was pretty impressed with Jon Bernthal’s portrayal in Daredevil though, so I’m looking forward to the show.
I’m not a Tick fan. I know something about this character because I have a friend who loves him, and insists on telling me about him, but I’m not feeling any particular way about it. I hope its as funny as my friend says it will be.
I’m not particularly interested in this but I’ll give it a look-see. I don’t find life on Krypton to be especially interesting, and I was not clamoring for this, but I’m curious as to what the show will be like, so I’ll take a look.
Cloak and Dagger (2018)
I read the comic books like a religious duty, so I’m a huge fan of the characters, but the show doesn’t bear a lot of resemblance to the books. I hope that’s a good thing because the books did have some issues. I will take a look at the pilot and hope its some good.
Jessica Jones 2
I was disappointed in the first season of this show because of its lack of intersectional feminism, and its shabby treatment of PoC, so I’m not on board for the remake. I hope it’s better than season one because I can get PoC abuse and erasure in a much better show than this.
Iron Fist 2
*Sigh* I’ll watch this if it has a different show runner attached. Scott Bucked really fucked this up, and I have no confidence in him, so if he’s still attached to the second season, then I’m out.
To Be Announced:
I actually like this character. She always reminded me of Xena Warrior Princess though, for some reason. Anyway, if this gets made, I’ll take a look at it. So far, I’ve only heard that its in development.
I had mo interest in the comic book version, and have no interest in this, so it will probably turn out to be an awesome show that will be canceled because I was the only person watching it.
I enjoyed the book version, but I think its a series that’s hard to film and get the flavor of it right. I’m really curious about who will star in it, and what it will be like, though. So far, its just in development.
I’ve never read the books, but I have friends who love this. For their sake, I hope it gets made, and that its as good as they say the books are.
All I know about this character, I learned from the cartoon. This is only in development though. There are no names attached and I don’t even know if it will be live action. If you know more, let me know.
I liked this book, but I didn’t continue to read beyond the first collection. The book was kind of confusing but I loved the artwork.
Y: The last Man
Didn’t care for the book. Hope the show is some good.
I just bought this on Comixology, and enjoyed it. Its mostly about strange giant creatures taking over the Earth, and wiping out humanity, which sounds awesome. With a good budget, and some care, this could be like a Kaiju version of The Walking Dead.
I’m familiar with these three comics but I haven’t actually read them.
Locke and Key
Click here to read at Screenrant.com.
This episode is a big fuck you to American politics, and its Ra-Ra Americana, Gun Loving, Make America Great Again, America is for White people aesthetic. That it puts a Black man right in the middle of all this is no accident. Outside of Mr. Nancy’s speech in episode three, this is one of the more politically blatant episodes this season, as Fuller usually tries to keep his social sensibilities clear, but a little more subtle.
In the opening scene, we meet the Mexican version of Jesus, as he shepherds a group of Mexican immigrants across the border. I thought this was a respectful depiction, even though I’m not a believer. Nevertheless, I know that these beliefs are important to someone, and should be treated with a certain amount of respect. One of the immigrants doesn’t know how to swim, nearly drowning while crossing a river, but is saved by Jesus. Even I had to admit to feeling a tiny bit of a thrill with the walking on water scene. That was kinda cool.
Everyone makes it to shore but they are fired upon by a group of White men wearing badges with the word Vulcan on them. This is Fuller’s open political statement of how immigrants who came here earlier like to set themselves against the immigrants who come after them. This was the primary theme of the movie Gangs of New York, with gangs of White people calling themselves Natives, fighting with the more recent Irish immigrants. The irony in this episode is that the Mexicans are the real Natives, as they were living in this country before White people got here.
The very nature of Jesus is sacrifice, and is illustrated in this scene of him protecting his followers with his life. Here you have two old gods who are diametrically opposed to each other. One of them is symbolized by fire and violence, and the other by peace and water, but both of them are willing to make sacrifices. One of them does so for the benefit of others, and the other does it only for himself. The followers of Vulcan are older immigrants than the ones they’re killing that night, but nevertheless feel that they have staked a claim to American soil and don’t want to share it with any others, who came here later than them. They’re devoted to the idea of America, only their version bears no resemblance to what America actually is. The Mexican immigrants have a much clearer idea of what America is but their god isn’t as powerful as the one who has decided to profit from racism, and xenophobia, and has a lot of guns. There is a reason Vulcan has to die at the end of this episode. He has been complicit in corruption the very nature of sacrifice.
Shadow and Wednesday are walking back to the motel, to retrieve their car, after their escape from the police station. Wednesday still has not noticed that Shadow is injured, as they discuss what happened at the station. Wednesday still refuses to tell Shadow what to think, insisting that Shadow make up his own mind about what’s happening. He insists that Shadow has to believe to understand, but Shadow doesn’t want to go there. It’s just too much. Gods are actual real beings, and Wednesday is one of them!
Note that most of the events in tonight’s episode are made up of whole cloth by the writers. With the exception of some verbatim conversations and dialogue, none of the events, from Wednesday’s healing session with Shadow, to the return of Salim, to Laura’s road trip with Sweeney, to Wednesday’s meeting with Vulcan, is in the book. Fuller’s general method, regarding adaptations, is to expand on the source material in ways that enhance and deepen the story. In the original narrative, almost the entire book is from Shadow’s point of view, but Fuller has changed things here to make the show, an ensemble piece, where we get to see different points of view.
Shadow and Wednesday make it back to the motel, where Shadow confesses that he was visited by Laura. Wednesday claims to be surprised, but still gives no set answer to Shadow about her resurrection. He eventually pressures Shadow into leaving with him. When Wednesday looks in the rearview mirror, he can see Laura chasing after their car, and turns up the volume on the stereo, so Shadow can’t hear her. He is determined that the two of them stay far away from each other. Either he’s concerned that Lara would be a distraction from him, and he does not want to share Shadow’s attention, or he thinks that Laura is working for his enemies and trying to seduce Shadow to their side.
Notice that up to now, there has been no emphasis on weather phenomena during this episode. No transitioning from sky to sky, or shots of storm clouds, as in previous episodes. Instead we often get shots of sun and clear blue skies, along Laura’s road trip, and in Vulcan. I can’t help but think that must be on purpose. Whenever Shadow is holding his emotions in we often get shots of turbulent weather, but when he’s openly expressing what he’s feeling, the skies are often very calm and clear.
Shadow isn’t your typical hyper masculine asshole, with a stiff upper lip. Nor is he weak. He won’t allow himself to be preyed upon, but fights only when he absolutely has to. I like that the show allows him to not only have feelings, but openly expresses them, and that this is never sided as a weakness. When he’s afraid, he’s allowed to say so. When he’s overwhelmed, we get to see it. We’ve spent the past two episodes watching him hanging on to reality by his fingernails, and that’s kind of refreshing. Shadow isn’t trying to be “Shaft of the Supernatural”, and I like that. He’s just some guy, thrown into extraordinary circumstances, trying to make sense of it all.
While we’re on the subject I want to address some concerns some people have shown about Shadow not interacting with any PoC in the show. I had the impression that Shadow’s lack of interaction with any other black people is meant to parallel his lack of interaction with normalcy, since he signed on to work with Wednesday.
Before Shadow met Wednesday he often operated in all white environments, so he is used to navigating racial dynamics, while holding on to his sense of self. That’s not a problem for him. Shadow is always acutely aware of who he is, and where his place is in American society. Here, he’s thrown into an environment, where he’s the only regular human being. He has to renegotiate reality now, to encompass the idea that gods exist, the television will personally talk to you, dead people can walk, and trees can come to life, plus this entire ordeal has been incredibly violent towards him, as he has been attacked multiple times. So while he is very used to navigating racial politics, navigating the world of gods is some brand new shit he’s got no experience with, and he’s barely holding onto what is real.
Often in situations where black people are in a minority of two or three, you’ll see us touch base with each other, to reassure ourselves of our reality, to help each other emotionally navigate an all white environment. As an example of this, see the movie Get Out. Chris regularly touches base with his friend Rod, while trying to navigate an all white environment where he is questioning what’s happening to him, and his doubts are being dismissed by the White people around him, and the black people are not reliable either. Shadow is a player in two separate environments, one of them is whiteness, and the other is the supernatural. He is alone in both spheres, as there are no normal human beings for him to interact with, just as there are no PoC for him to touch base with. I’d like to see him interact with some people of color, but Shadow doesn’t actually need to do that. He knows how to navigate the color line. He’s got that part down. It’s the world of the gods he’s having trouble with.
The only assurance he has of the reality he’s experiencing, is coming from beings he can’t trust, because none of them are human. Notice that Wednesday behaves exactly the same way about Shadow’s reactions to the supernatural as he does to all of the racial things Shadow has mentioned. You could substitute just about any discussion they’ve had about the supernatural, with discussions that many blacks have had with whites about race. Wednesday uses deflection, derailment, defensiveness, obtuseness, and gas lighting, to not tell Shadow what’s happening to him. Laura also does this in their brief conversation in the last episode.
Notice how the gods in Shadow’s presence all speak to one another. It’s obvious that none of them think themselves human, but absolutely none of them come right out and say to Shadow, “Hey! I’m the God of Media! Or I’m the God of Commerce! I’m the God of War!” Nobody speaks directly to him about a state of being, that they consider to be obvious. Except for Wednesday everyone makes the assumption that Shadow knows what’s going on. Its like one of those conversations where everyone knows everyone but you, and they keep referencing events you were never a part of, in short hand, as if you had been there.
And there are other parallels too. When Vulcan makes his remarks about the hanging, Wednesday narcissistically makes Shadow’s pain and suffering about himself. White people will often make the pain and suffering of PoC about themselves. (Well okay, in this case, it’s actually true. Most of Shadow’s suffering is a direct consequence of knowing Wednesday, or is used to insult him.) Nevertheless, this makes Wednesday an unreliable indicator of whether or not he is insane.
Without any normal humans to touch base with, to confirm what he’s been experiencing, Shadow begins to doubt reality, which is something that can happen to PoC in all white environments, where there’s not another marginalized person to keep them grounded, or affirm something they just experienced. That Shadow has not interacted with any black people may be something that’s just as on purpose as his not interacting with regular humans. I think we’re supposed to see that Shadow is twice a fish out of water, navigating two, separate environments, only one of which he has mastered.
Laura returns to the motel to find her car, but encounters Sweeney again. He makes all kinds of promises this evening. He tells her he knows someone who can resurrect her, while name dropping Jesus Christ. While trying to steal an old taxi, with a toilet for a backseat, they are interrupted by Salim. I was really glad to see him again as this meeting between the three of them doesn’t happen anywhere in the book. Salim, overhearing that Sweeney is a leprechaun, asks if he knows where to find the Jinn who left him his taxi. Salim has been searching for him ever since, and Sweeny promises that he will tell Salim where to find the Jinn, if Salim drives the three of them to Kentucky. Salim agrees, but doesn’t go to Kentucky.
Meanwhile at the Vulcan weapons manufacturing plant one of the employees falls to his death in a vat of molten metal, to the incongruous tune of C’mon Get Happy, by The Partridge Family. They were like a white version of The Jackson Five, only with worse outfits. I know this because I watched this show, religiously, when I was about 8. To say that I enjoyed it, would be too strong an expression. Most likely it was the only thing on TV in that time slot. Anyway this is a singularly horrific death, especially once you realize the guy has just been baked into the factory product: bullets.
When Shadow and Wednesday reach Vulcan West Virginia (Yes, this is an actual place! I checked.) they find the townsfolk having a memorial for their fallen co-worker. Shadow becomes acutely aware that he is a man out-of-place, as the entire town is covered in flags, and everyone, from the smallest child to the oldest grandparent is carrying a gun. It’s so over the top ridiculous that it’s almost funny, except this is how some Americans actually believe we should all be living. I was uncomfortable on Shadow’s behalf, because this very much reminded me of Sundown Towns:
At the memorial, which is really a celebration of the sacrifice to Vulcan, there’s a gun salute and Wednesday warns Shadow to stay in the vehicle. At first I thought he was warning Shadow to stay hidden, but unlike me, Shadow remembers what goes up, must come down, and he decides to sit it out, as Vulcan and Wednesday greet each other in the middle of the street. There’s a hailstorm of bullets, none of which ever touch either of the two gods.
On their road trip, Sweeney, Laura and Salim get to know each other. Salim figures out that Laura is dead, and takes it in stride. After all, he met a Jinn. I think Salim is very lonely, as he never stops talking the whole time, while Sweeney snarks at the two of them from the back seat. Sweeney ending up in the back, when he insisted that Laura would be the one, is deeply hilarious to me, for some reason.
Salim proves to be a precious cinnamon roll of sweetness, while Sweeney is the exact opposite of all decency. Yes, I would love it if Laura ripped his lips off, whether he uses the “C” word or not, but we need Sweeney to be the “truth teller”. Every Bryan Fuller show has at least one of these, a character who tells the blunt-faced, unbridled truth to the other characters, no matter how much pain it causes, or who it hurts. Salim and Laura bond over their belief that their past is gone, and so are the family members who were a part of it. When Laura has a chance to visit her family, she changes her mind. She and Salim both agree that they can, “Fuck those assholes!”
The three of them end up at the Crocodile Bar where Sweeney lost his coin. It’s like a horrible joke. A leprechaun, a zombie, and a Muslim walk into a bar…
Wednesday and Shadow go Vulcan’s home, where Vulcan keeps assuring Shadow that he’s safe, but Shadow ain’t buying it. He knows badness when he feels it, and insists that the two of them leave. His instincts are correct because things are not as they seem, especially when Vulcan alludes to events to which he was never a witness, like Shadow’s lynching. That was number one. Number two is when Vulcan refuses to drink the Soma that Wednesday brought as a gift, substituting his own instead. Notice that Wednesday tells Shadow that Soma is not the drink for him. Soma is a drink only for gods.
Soma was a fermented juice drink which was believed to have been consumed by the Hindu gods and their ancient priests, the brahmanas, during rituals. Thought to be an elixir its consumption not only healed illness but also brought great riches. Soma is personified by the god of the same name who is also the god of sacrifices and who may, in some texts, be associated with the Moon.
Not only drunk by priests for its sacred nature it was also credited with uplifting qualities, giving the drinker a boost in energy and alertness. These effects meant that the drink has been considered divine since ancient times; a beverage which brought humans closer to the divine.
Soma is also another word for “body” and may represent the physical body of humans, in a pagan parallel of the Christian Communion ritual. Vulcan can’t drink the Soma that Wednesday brought, even though he promises to support Wednesday in his war. Vulcan already made a deal with the new gods, who have set up this system of worship for him, in the town of the same name. He claims that every bullet fired from one of his weapons, is a sacrifice to him.
Wednesday tasks Vulcan to make a sword for him that can kill a god, and he does so. It’s a gorgeous specimen, and I want one. (Never mind what I’d do with it! Smite my enemies! What else?) After Vulcan confesses that he betrayed Wednesday to the new gods, Wednesday, in one lightning swift move, cuts Vulcan’s throat and tosses his body into one of the vats. Shadow freaks the fuck out, which is an entirely appropriate response. We’ve seen Shadow unhinged from the first episode, but this is really the first time we’ve seen him totally lose his shit. It will be interesting to see how he behaves in the next two episodes.
Wednesday expresses his complete contempt for not just Vulcan’s actions, but an entire setup that’s basically a shiny, automated, bloodless form of sacrifice, that gives nothing back to the people who worship him. Wednesday said this to Vulcan earlier, that the new gods take, and promise, but do not give anything in return, and that the old gods at least did something for their worshipers, which makes them less corrupt.
Wednesday curses the entire enterprise by pissing into the vat. This is probably a pretty good idea of Bryan Fulelr’s sentiments, too.
Laura, Salim, and Sweeney are still heading West. They stop to see the sunrise as Salim says his morning prayers.
Have some laughs for the week!
*You know how there’s always that one Hotep whose always giving advice about what black people coulda and shoulda done:
*I feel like this probably describes maybe half the white girls I met in college, though. Seriously, y’all need to be watching Bob’s Burgers. My niece swears its hilarious, altho’ she still has not explained the bunny ears.
What “Fratricide” Actually Means: murder of one’s sibling
What “Fratricide” Sounds Like It Should Mean: “Oh my god, they killed Chad!”
*More Introvert humor:
*Me at 3AM and I know I gotta get my ass up at 7.
I have done this thing where I avoided doing something I was supposed to do because I thought the person standing near my goal looked like a talker.
I feel like there should be an entire industry of people who hire themselves out to be dads, grandmas, and aunties, to single people without families, people disenfranchised from their families, or just people who are separated. These people would act in stereotypical grandma, dad, and auntie manner and shit. Like calling you different types of patries and daddy’s best girl, fixing a meal, telling you to clean your room, asking when you getting married, and being kind of lovingly annoying, like real family.