Tuesday 27 February 2018

Black Panthers and Ape Lords

I had a feeling Black Panther would be my favourite Marvel film for a while now. The first trailer indicated to me that this was going to be a film steeped in the lore, ambiance, and spirit of Africa. I've always loved that continent: the many peoples, the fauna, the landscapes. So much of my favourite pulp adventure - Burroughs, Haggard, Howard - is set in a historical, mythic, or fantastical version of Africa. But so many of these stories are written from the adventurer's perspective - someone going to Africa, where Africa is a faraway land of wonders and mysteries. From the African perspective, Africa is home: it's always been there, they've always been there. Black Panther, being the creation of two North Americans, started life as an outsider's interpretation of an African superhero. Black Panther, the film, seeks to bring him home.

The results are plain to see: an all-star cast and senior crew from all across the world, almost all of whom have a direct or ancestral link to the continent. It isn't an adventure so much as a homecoming.

The depth and richness of Black Panther could easily inspire thousands of words of critique and analysis, from the languages to the clothing; the architecture to the martial arts; the music to the dances. To demonstrate the film's profundity, I'm going to look at one seemingly tiny aspect of the film across three posts, and explore the possibilities and meaning therein - the Gorilla God of the Jabari.