Guest Post by the Dynamic Mary Mordrake Cosplay. She has seen the Marvel Movies quite a few times, and is rewatching them all again because of something coming up called Avengers Infinity War! And SPOILERS for any Marvel Movie you have not seen!!!
Week 18: Black Panther (2018)
Okay, so I’m cheating a little. We all know there is no Week 18, not after Infinity War’s release was bumped up by a week. I’m actually writing this after my third Black Panther viewing on Week 15, but hey, the timeline still works. Have you made it to the end of this long Road to Infinity War? If not, fair warning, this post is full of spoilers. So many spoilers–you know what? Stop reading this and go watch Black Panther right now, whether you’ve seen it already or not. I’ll wait.
Still with me? Good.
“Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from ships, because they knew that death was better than bondage.”
There are so many striking moments to choose from, but this one still gives me chills. Killmonger was born from blood and deceit, the product of valuing the security of a nation over the safety of a child. His methods might have been rash and violent, but he was motivated by the loss of his father, and the loss of a future in Wakanda, a fairy tale of opportunity and prosperity in a world where he and his friends faced discrimination every single day. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to grow up like Erik Stevens – knowing Wakanda exists, and that they would rather remain in hiding than help people like him. He knows the history of Wakanda. He knows that colonization, imperialism, and slavery are the reason that Wakanda hid themselves from the world. And here he is, moments from death, and throwing the nation’s history back in the face of its ruler. In one sentence, he’s reminded T’Challa that the actions of his forefathers sentenced thousands of African slaves to death.
The problem is, whenever the possibility of revealing Wakanda to the world is addressed, everyone assumes the worst. T’Challa says that waging war is now their way. There is talk of sending warriors out to start cleaning up, or taking refugees in and upsetting a carefully cultivated peace. It’s assumed that by opening themselves up to the world, the nation will become prone to war, poverty, disease, all of the problems that come with reaching out to other countries. What’s needed is a shift in perspective, and that’s exactly what Killmonger brings to T’Challa and to Wakanda. His very existence is proof that keeping Wakanda secret has done more harm than good. I would even go so far as to say that he’s the push that T’Challa needed to understand that there are other options beyond Wakanda’s borders beyond war. Wakanda needs to be an example to the world, not to conquer it, and it took a slightly tropey, but socially and culturally relevant sins of the father plotline to help T’Challa see that.
I wonder, when W’Kabi surrenders to Okoye in the final battle, and he looks around and sees his people fighting each other, he remembers T’Challa’s words from earlier in the movie: “Waging war is not our way.” Coupled with the fact that Okoye is entirely willing to kill him for the sake of her country, we see a man who let his desire for revenge and anger at T’Challa for not killing Ulyssess Klaue spiral out of control, drop his weapon and surrender. I think it’s at this exact moment, as well, that we understand what Okoye meant when she told Nakia she was loyal to the throne, and to Wakanda, and that she couldn’t run after T’Challa’s supposed death. She isn’t saying she supports Killmonger, but that she supports Wakanda. She upholds the country’s values and restores peace when necessary, even if it means sacrificing the man she loves. And speaking of Wakanda’s values, let’s take a moment to appreciate the fact that Wakanda is incredibly technologically advanced, and socially and economically stable, and they didn’t want or need any help from outsiders. Colonialism wouldn’t have helped Wakanda, it’s the whole reason they closed themselves off from the world in the first place. This, right here, is a perfect blend of the rise of modern technology and innovation, fused with the rich, cultural traditions of multiple tribes to create a flourishing and vibrant society.
And as my Road to Infinity War draws to a close, let’s bring it full circle and talk about the women of Marvel once again. Remember way back in weeks 1 and 2, when we watched Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk and I complained that women like Pepper Potts and Betty Ross were essentially window dressing for superheroes? Not anymore. Welcome to Wakanda, where gender inequality doesn’t exist. Where women have never had to work to dispel stereotypes, or rise above their stations, or prove that they are equal to men, because it has never occurred to Wakandans that gender might affect opportunity or performance. Women are the backbone of this movie. The royal guard, the Dora Milaje, are entirely made up of strong, disciplined, powerful women, and Okoye, their general, was stated to be the greatest warrior in Wakanda. I could talk about Okoye for days. This beautiful, strong female character with a fully fleshed out personality, and life, and have I mentioned she’s the greatest warrior in Wakanda? She’s a warrior, a general, a lover, a sister, a friend. There is no one or the other, no need to be more or less feminine. She is who she is and she is revered, respected, and loved. I will never, ever be over watching Okoye leap off the balcony at the bar in Korea, red dress flying behind her, having already ripped off her wig mid-attack. Or her satisfied expression when her spear flies clean through a car and takes it out. Or her face in the first post-credits scene, smirking behind T’Challa, when the UN asks what a poor farming nation could possibly have to offer. And she’s on an official Infinity War poster, which hopefully guarantees much more of Okoye in the very near future.
And then there’s Nakia, a spy and a war dog, able to leave Wakanda for missions such as the one she was on at the beginning of the film, an undercover investigation of the Nigerian slave trade. Technically, yes, she could be classified as a love interest for T’Challa, but that’s not her primary role, and it’s definitely not the most interesting or relevant aspect of her character. That’s the best part about all of these characters – yes, they have a relationship to T’Challa, either by blood or by allegiance, but they aren’t defined by that relationship. They’re all allowed to have agency, and fully fleshed out personalities and lives. Probably the best example of that is Shuri, princess of Wakanda and T’Challa’s sister, but more importantly considered one of the most intelligent people on earth. She’s responsible for many (make that most) of Wakanda’s technological innovations. She can fix a fractured spine like it’s nothing, create a Panther suit that fits into a necklace, and build sonic stabilizers for the safe transport of vibranium. She’s also well versed in memes (“What are thooose?”), loves puns (“I call them…sneakers”) and records videos of her big brother getting taken out by a suit (“delete that footage.”). And hey look, another female character that gets to be all of these things, and more – she’s a sister. A princess. A technological genius. All of these women are allowed to be anything they want. They’re allowed to be spies, and generals, and innovators, and queens. They’re allowed to be three-dimensional, with the freedom to think and feel and dream for themselves, and no one questions them. This, right here, is the true mark of a utopian society. People who are allowed to be people, regardless of gender, race, or any other markers that the western world uses to suppress and segregate. In answer to the UN’s inquiry in the post-credits, this is what Wakanda has to offer to the rest of the world.
Let’s cut this off before I ramble on for another 1000 words and throw in a few Random Thoughts:
A) “Does she speak English?” “When she wants to.”
B) Mbaku putting his people and the values of the nation above his personal desire for the throne – but still making jokes and allowing Shuri, Ramonda, and Nakia to bow before him before bringing them to T’Challa.
C) That one part on the train tracks when T’Challa grabs a sonic stabilizer with his claws and swings around it, doing a 360 before landing on his feet reminds me of this part in the first X-Men movie:
D) I had no idea that Shuri’s “What are thooooose?” comment was a meme until all of those posts popped up about Shuri the meme lord.
E) That post-credits scene, the last post-credits scene before Infinity War, bringing Bucky back just in time! And what does Shuri mean when she says there’s more for him to learn? Are they teaching him more about Wakanda? Weaponry? Is Thanos already on his way? So many unanswered questions…
F) And of course the Wakandan insults – Okoye calling guns primitive while wielding her vibranium spear, and Shuri calling Everett “colonizer” and another white man to fix made me laugh. It’s nice to see the white males that are normally at the centre of these movies being taken down a peg.
There is so much more I want to discuss about this movie, but there are already a ton of articles that do it better than I ever could. And look, we made it to the end of the #RoadToInfinityWar! Are you all still with me? Are you rushing to finish all eighteen movies in the days before Infinity War hits theatres? Remember everyone, be kind and don’t post your spoilers all over the internet at least until after the weekend, and tag/label them accordingly just in case. One more time – tag me in your Road to Infinityr war posts with @marymordrakecosplay on instagram, show me your opening night cosplays, your selfies in theatre lobbies, your final Black Panther runs before the big weekend, and whatever else you get up to in these final days of the long Road To Infinity War!
Mary is a walking talking living encyclopedia of X-Men and Batman, an avid cosplayer, and obsessive reader. She’s dreamed of living in the X-Mansion and Batcave since she was eight years old, which is almost as long as she’s wanted to be a Sailor Scout. And Quicksilver is her Patronus. Oh, she may have watched a Marvel Movie or two along the way as well. You can check out her cosplay at http://www.facebook.com/marymordrake and instagram Mary Mordrake Cosplay and her fanfiction at http://archiveofourown.org/users/Harleydoll/works . Her twitter is @magnetictrifles and her Pinterest is Mary Mordrake.
Scoop here: When I first met Mary years ago, I found out she is a X-Men and Batman fan. Within a half hour, I found out she is an absolute X-Men and Batman fanatic of colossal degree who has read EVERY FREAKING SINGLE X-MEN AND BATMAN COMIC FOR THE LAST TWENTY YEARS. And I really really liked Black Panther, and I very very very much recommend Ryan Coogler’s previous film Creed, a rebirth of the Rocky franchise. Killmonger and Valkyrie are in it as well.
And Here’s To Mary For Completing 10,000 Hours Of Marvel Movies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!