A while back, Avi Arad stated “they” (I’m assuming Marvel Studios) had a “great take” on a Black Panther film, and follows this up with referring to the film thusly: “It’s like black Indiana Jones.” Really? A monarch of one the most technologically advanced societies in the world, not to mention that this society is in Africa — just how in the jolly green fuck can you relate this to Indiana Jones?
T’Challa is a king, a diplomat, a scientist, an athlete, a super hero… He makes Indiana Jones’ racist, plundering adventures obsolete. To make a great Panther he has to be regal and own his arrogance — not use his arrogance as a front for insecurities, a la Tony Stark. He doesn’t fail up like Indiana Jones. He strategizes and then takes chances. If T’Challa were in Raiders of the Lost Ark he would have just let the Nazis open the Ark and watched them all melt. He wouldn’t have engaged in all that unnecessary adventuring. The Black Panther is a character unto himself. He needs to be afforded the same care and consideration of the other Marvel-verse heroes and their various “phase” films.
We need to see the fights. Please, no Bourne shaky-cam and quick edits. The Panther is a fighter and should be portrayed as such — but his fighting style shouldn’t be the same spin-kick, roundhouse, jump-kick we’ve all seen ad nauseum. Just as Captain America has a unique fighting style, so should The Panther. Whether it is a modified version of Capoeira, or Ta-Merrian, or modified nGolo, or what have you, it needs to be presented in full, on the screen. And the shit has to be African, or African derived.
Speaking of Africa. Wakanda is in Africa. Despite its tech-advantage, it is an African nation. This means that English might not be the language we hear when we visit Wakanda. I’d suggest Chichewa as the “Wakandan language.” And since Africa has to be a primary focus of the film, you have to deal with: poaching, exploitation, economic disparity, inter/intra-tribal conflict, Western education versus African (Wakandan) pride — hell, cover two and I’ll be happy. Do not turn this shit into Coming to America, or do this.
Cast an athletic, charismatic, unknown. He has to be a badass in the tribe, the boardroom, and in battle. But he also has to convey: “I have PhDs in various subjects; I’m smarter than a generation of your family, and I am the sexiest motherfucker you’ve ever seen.” The actor has to be able to embody all of that, and I have yet to see an established actor who can. Oh yeah, he doesn’t need to be English or American. Ummm… how about going to Africa to scout talent? We should see Tony Stark as the over-privileged man-child he is. We need to see how money, genius, and heroism play out differently between the two men. We also need to see them in collaboration. Steel sharpens steel.
It has to be a (good) trilogy: The Black Panther; The Black Panther: Fall of Wakanda; The Black Panther: King War. In the first film, he is at his prime; he stumbles and falls in the second film, and he is a full-on badass in the third film. Klaw should be a primary villain, but a new villain should be introduced as well. Someone we haven’t seen before. Villains make the hero. But no Man-Ape. He’s too ridiculous. He and Captain America have to fight. They have to. Why? Because the idea of an agent of American imperialism going to Africa to start shit and gets his ass handed to him? Cinematic gold. And, yes. Panther would whoop Cap.
If there is a love interest, she has to be his equal or better. It would be great if it was Storm (she has NEVER been portrayed correctly on screen), but it could be anyone from his past. We all know that the Black Widow wants some… but his love interest should be a woman of color. In film (and TV) interracial relationships are used as a way for the creators to distance themselves from being accused of bigotry: ‘See! It is an interracial relationship.’ I’m in no way against interracial relationships as me, my wife, and my child are all products of one, but having two kick ass characters of color in a healthy romantic relationship, on screen? Best. Shit. In. Life.
Do not put all that gold crap on his uniform. His uniform should hint at his connection with the Panther spirit, so it should have some tribal flourishes. But it is also functional and real world. No vibranium boots where he can jump off a three-story building and land without breaking his legs, not to mention land silently. His uniform is as much a symbol as it is a piece of combat gear. One again, none of that ridiculous gold. He’s supposed to be stealthy and ready to fight, not Run-DMC.
Care about the film. Don’t pull a Blade: Trinity and have the anti-charismatic white kids take over. Care enough about the character to give him his own trilogy (like I said, it needs to be a trilogy), and do not have him abdicate screen time to what amounts to Scooby-Doo and Mystery, Incorporated.
On another note, let us not forget that it was Wesley Snipe’s success with portraying Blade that allowed the first X film to get made when it did. Blade 1 and 2 are proof that a black male lead can carry a film and have it be successful. I know some white dudes were shook by having a tough and confident black superhero on screen (hence why Blade was made into a eunuch. He couldn’t be kick-ass and be sexual. White dude’s heads would have exploded). But the Black Panther I want to see has a three-dimensional life — including romance. He deserves it. We deserve it.
- How to Not Screw Up a Wonder Woman Film (thenerdsofcolor.org)