February 16th is almost upon us.
While there is less than a month to spare, there is still enough time to be poised, polished andknowledgeable before we hit the theaters in droves.
To-Do List for the Black Panther Release:
1. Make time for the history and current state of African countries
Wakanda is obviously going to be one of the most breath-taking and technologically advanced places we will see on the big screen. And what’s more, it is located in Africa, a continent too often depicted by Western and much of the global media as impoverished and incapable. Despite the excitement surrounding Wakanda, it is important to remember that there are spectacular, real countries in Africa who are often overlooked in favor of the Western view. If there is anything we can take from the Black Panther tale, it’s that Africa has multitudes to offer that the rest of the world is unaware of or ignorant to. Take time to learn more about the roots and current state of an African country (or two or three or all of them; and not just “Africa” as a whole since cultures differ greatly from country to country and within each country) before seeing Black Panther, so that you can have a realistic awareness of the movie’s setting.
Be wary of wearing that Dashiki or Ankara without knowledge.
2. Watch a different movie starring one of the actors/actresses
While there is no doubt that the cast (along with the director and slew of other contributors) of Black Panther has worked incredibly hard to bring us one of Marvel Entertainment’s most anticipated films, it’s cool to familiarize oneself with some of the cast’s previous works. This not only shows support beyond Black Panther but makes one more aware of their repertoire. Recently I watched Message from the King (2016) starring Chadwick Boseman. The film was riveting and while the ending was not what I anticipated, the movie definitely showcased Boseman’s ability to harness suspense. Danai Gurira starred in Mother of George (2013), a film depicting the struggle of a Nigerian wife to bear children, which received a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes (as of January 2018). In 2016, Lupita Nyong’o starred as the mother of a Ugandan chess genius battling the conflicts of home and fame in Queen of Katwe. I absolutely loved and felt the tension enveloping the daughter Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) as a child of poverty being courted by privilege.
As Black talent continues the fight for more presence and acknowledgment in Hollywood, we as consumers of entertainment can play a role by supporting Black genius and creativity. Post Black Panther, let us continue to see works by these actors and actresses even if they do not include an all-black cast. While the turnout for this film is expected to be unprecedented and make a clear statement about the value Black actors can contribute to Hollywood, it is important that we continue to support Black film artistry across multiple genres and settings.
3. Watch the previous Marvel films (please!)
I know some people are seeing Black Panther without context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and it slightly scares me. Black Panther has the potential to stand alone as a palatial film. However, not knowing the context of where the film or situations within the film sits in the MCU can make the movie less enjoyable for you (hopefully only slightly). From Captain America: Civil War (2016) to Thor Ragnorak (2017), time and again I have witnessed friends and family who have never seen a previous Marvel film and attempt to “jump right in.” Nine times out of ten they miss key points, ironic humor, character references, or are just completely confused as to why certain events are taking place.
Don’t do that to yourself.
At a minimum, I would watch Captain America: Civil War, which is the first Marvel film Black Panther appeared in. Give yourself the context you need to FULLY enjoy and understand the movie.
4. Reclaim Your Time: What is your Wakanda?
Wakanda is a hidden gem heavily protected by its people, with the power to revolutionize the world. What aspects of your life or personality comprise “your Wakanda?” Self-assess your talents and opinions to see how you can leverage them for good (whatever you define as “good”). Like the people of Wakanda, guard your assets (e.g. strengths, talents) with great care, but also recognize that revealing and sharing your strengths can send a powerful message of your potential. Let’s take advantage of this movie’s release for a self-realization moment, shall we?
Have a safe February 16, 2018. Wakanda forever!
Cover Photo: GIPHY