Hello, Rebel, and welcome back to my life.
On Friday, Meghan and I ran to the theater and saw Black Panther, as did, it seems, just about everyone, considering how many box office records the movie is smashing.
I’m a big fan of the Marvel movies. I’ve loved almost all of them, and I usually walk out of the theater bouncing up and down with excitement and unable to stop talking about them.
But I walked out of Black Panther almost completely silent. Not because I was disappointed, but because I was, frankly, a little bit stunned.
I had seen the hype building up online, and I had tried to prevent myself from feeling it. You don’t want to go into a movie with expectations that are too HIGH, because then even a good movie will disappoint you.
But to be honest, I couldn’t stop myself from getting caught up in the moment, and I walked into the theater SUUUPER hyped.
And to my complete surprise, the hype failed to live up to the film.
After the credits rolled and in all the time I’ve spent thinking about it since, it’s been impossible not to recognize that this movie is not just amazing, but also incredibly important.
There is hardly a single character in this film who couldn’t get their own solo movie. They are vibrant and rich and interesting and DIFFERENT from each other.
And at the same time they’re DIFFERENT from the same-old, same-old characters we see over and over again, not just in every Marvel film, but in most mainstream Hollywood productions in general.
And to top it all off, they’re presented to us in a setting that’s unlike anything we’ve seen in blockbuster cinema, gorgeously realized and deep and intriguing in a way the studios just don’t seem to bother with anymore.
That’s not to say that it’s not without its problems. We can’t expect a film that’s so deeply political yet also the product of a multibillion dollar global corporation not to have some questionable themes and treatment of its characters.
For example, early versions of the script had an explicitly LGBT relationship that was taken out.
And there is an inherent problem in having the film’s main villain also being the most prominent example of black radicalism.
I’ve dropped some links in the doobly-doo to people who have been discussing these things in much greater detail and from a viewpoint that’s much more qualified than mine.
No art is without flaws, and nothing should be immune to critique or questioning.
We should always be able to have a nuanced discussion about what could be improved in a book or film, even when we’re mostly extremely happy with it.
And yeah. From a Disney film, and a Marvel film in particular, I think this was absolutely the best film it could have been, and it’s going to be really hard for any other project to surpass this new, high benchmark for a very long time.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: diverse storytelling is good storytelling.
Audiences are realizing that stories exist which don’t default to the same old viewpoint of straight white able-bodied cishet dudes. And that creators exist who can tell those stories.
And the coroporations who still control art distribution are slowly waking up to this fact as well.
They’re waking up TOO slowly, if we’re being honest, but they ARE waking up.
Since this process has begun, there have always been the naysayers who say that these types of films won’t work, that they won’t make back the money—
—as though that’s the only proof of whether art is valid or not—
And that the default we’ve been fed for several decades IS the default because it’s the only story worth telling.
But they’re wrong, and they’re being proved wrong with every new step forward, with every opportunity that is not GIVEN to marginalized creators, but which is WRESTED from the hands of gatekeepers who have frankly never seen these works as equal.
If you haven’t seen Black Panther yet, go see it, do it now, don’t wait.
Decades from now, multiple award-winning, blockbuster filmmakers are going to say this movie was what started them down their career paths, like Lord of the Rings, like Star Wars, like every timeless classic.
And you are going to want to tell the young people of that time that you were there from the beginning.
That’s all I’ve got for you today, Rebel. You can check out the last video on my channel right up there. I also really appreciate every single one of you who supports me on Patreon, where you can get secret weekend videos.
Thank you so much for watching, and I will see you next week. Byyye.