It’s taken me about two weeks to sit down and write this blog post. Part of the reason it took me so long is that life gets in the way, but I also believe I just needed time to fully process what I witnessed while watching Black Panther. Alot of reviews and blog posts that are circulating the internet refer to the current #whatblackpanthermeanstome hashtag, as well as the strides the movie has made for African Americans not only in superhero movies, but in Hollywood as a whole. The social and political undertones within Black Panther are also a big topic of conversation. I'm not ignoring any of these great parts of Black Panther, but they just are not what this post is about.
When I walked out of Black Panther I found myself stunned by the beauty, strength, and downright badass women in the movie. While T’Challa, the Black Panther himself, is the hero of this movie; I truly felt the women of Black Panther stole the show. I found myself saying, “these are the heroes we’ve been waiting for!” We - as in the female Marvel fandom. When Nakia, Okoye, and Shuri are thought about in the same universe as Black Widow I find myself asking – Black Widow who? Please remember this is only in the context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since I know there are those of you out there who will argue Black Widow is amazing and then site a hundred comic book references.
The women of Wakanda made me feel strong, empowered, and proud to be a woman in 2018 and here are the reasons why:
1) If women who have more than one talent are considered a triple threat, then the women of Wakanda are downright deadly. These women are not only beautiful in unconventional ways, but they are intelligent and skilled fighters. Some would argue possibly more skilled than their male counterparts in the film. Shuri has an intelligence that some would believe may rival Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, considering that she is the one who has developed an enormous amount of Wakanda’s technology, including her brother’s suit. When fighting these women don’t do it in slow-mo beauty shots like we’ve seen in other movies. These women hit hard, grunt loud, and fight strategically. There are moments in the film when they use their environment to give them the upper hand. They aren’t afraid to use stiletto heels, spears, gauntlets that shoot energy blasts, or even wigs as weapons. These women are resourceful, and at one point T’Challa has to play catch up because he is already three steps behind his female companions who are owning the fight and chasing the current bad guy down. I found myself cheering for these women and admiring every swing, punch, kick, and blow they made.
2) These women fill the movie with a style that transcends Wakanda and spreads seamlessly into the modern world. The facial and body paint sported by women throughout the film is unique and endearing. While the markings are supposed to show that Wakanda’s strong African traditions remain untouched by the outside world, they also make the viewer think of the modern day tattoos that we sport on our bodies. These women wear their paint and markings with pride, the same way tattoo culture does today.
3) Not a single woman in this movie relies on, or decides her own fate based on her man. Nakia rebelliously tells T’Challa that she will be a Queen only if she wishes to be one, and Okoye is ready to sacrifice the love of her life for Wakanda because she puts her duty and her people above all else. While watching Black Panther my inner monologue was screaming “You go girl! Do not let that man define who you are!”
As the title of this blog post alludes by the end of Black Panther the feminist, geek girl, and little girl inside of me was screaming WAKANDA FOREVER! If you have a daughter, a niece, a cousin, a friend, a mother, or just know a woman (which I hope you do) take them to see Black Panther and I am sure they will appreciate the women in this film as much as I did.
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DISCLAIMER: I was in no way compensated for this post. I am just a woman who really enjoys movies. All images are property of Marvel Studios.