I did not go and see Black Panther at the cinema and here’s why

Black Panther1

“This movie looks amazing”, I thought, the first time I watched the trailer. It definitely caught my attention. The cast, the colours, the wardrobe… I can’t say I was left indifferent. And then the film came out. The excitement that ensued was palpable. Countless Twitter threads about the importance of Black Panther; an avalanche of think pieces about the narrative and how the African continent is being portrayed in the film… I didn’t come across a single bad review, a single negative comment. Okay, maybe a couple. But the general consensus seemed to be that Black Panther was the movie of the century, and the fact that it has just made over $1 billion worldwide is a pretty good indication of that. According to everyone, I just had to go and see it now. But here’s the thing…

Superhero movies are not my cup of tea

If there’s one film genre I dislike it’s this one. Must I just suck it up and endure a 2-hour long Marvel film that I know isn’t my type just because it’s deemed the most empowering, awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping majorly-black-cast movie ever? Will Black Panther all of a sudden turn me into a Marvel/superhero afficionado?

In all honesty I’m hoping it will at least teach me how to appreciate the genre. I’ve heard so many great things about the movie that it would be a shame if it had the opposite effect. I, myself, have marvelled at the artistic direction in the little that I saw. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t feel any of that if I ever did watch the film, simply based on my dismissal of its genre. And so I’ve decided to make the conscious effort (yes, that’s what it takes) to stop using my disdain for superhero films as a pretext, and see if I can actually appreciate Black Panther for what it is: A masterpiece, by the looks of it.

I have a newborn baby I can’t take to the cinema with me

And I know what my fellow mamas are thinking as they read this. Yes, I do know about mother and baby cinema sessions… I also know about those noise-cancelling headphones designed specifically for babies’ ears. I attended one of those mother-baby cinema sessions with my first born (although I can’t say I remember how it went as it was 10 years ago). And more recently, I tried those headphones on my 3 month-old daughter. Unfortunately, she hated them – we just couldn’t keep the device attached to her head without her screaming and trying to take it off with her own little hands. So I know this wouldn’t work for a 2-hour cinema session, even if the sound in the theatre was reduced.

The childcare option isn’t really an option at present, seeing as my daughter is currently breastfed and therefore wouldn’t be able to stay with anyone else for those few hours. She’d probably sleep through most of the film, but we’ve also considered the possibility that she may, at any point, wake up from her nap and catch a glimpse of the violent scenes – something I wouldn’t be comfortable with, yes, even at her young age. I’m just that kind of parent.

Excuses excuses, I hear you say. But how about I wait for the film to come on TV? There, we have a compromise here too.

The hype and sensationalism around it

You guys have really, and I mean really hyped it up, haven’t you? Okay, the movie was exceptional. But so was the sensationalism. The response to the film went from overwhelming to overbearing, at times. That photo of a young man eating pounded yam and egusi as he watched Black Panther at the cinema… Yes it was banter, and maybe his own way of celebrating. But ‘everything in moderation’ comes to mind. When a movie is hyped like this, it’s easy to be put off. And that’s not to say I won’t be watching it at all… But I’d much prefer to do so once the hype has died down a little. This is what I did for “Get Out” (2017), and I have no regrets.

Black Panther, I’m coming for you… but I’ll come when everyone else has left the building!

Did you say incantations and witchcraft?

I’ve heard about the parts in the movie where incantations are taking place. This has made me ponder the spiritual symbolism within the movie. I won’t lie to you, I’m not one hundred percent comfortable going there. I’ve also heard interesting perspectives from Christians about the various possible interpretations of the “Wakanda Forever” greeting. We’re entering a territory I find slightly uncomfortable (and perhaps somewhat dangerous) as a Christian, and when something doesn’t sit right with my soul, I tend to take a step back.

Having said all that, let’s not forget I’ve not actually seen the film. Everything I know about the film I’ve learned through the eyes, perspectives and opinions of others. It’d be interesting to see what the writers did; what was the intent here – i.e. to make unapologetic references to indigenous spirituality and religion in Africa before Christianity and Islam were brought forth? I’m curious to understand the angle here, and knowing me, I probably will want to see it for myself.

I prefer the comfort of my own home anyway

And for a movie like this one, home is where I want to be if I ever decide to watch it. I never liked going to the cinema anyway. Large screens and dark theatres make me fall asleep easily. The pop corn is expensive. The bathroom is miles away from my seat. If I’m going to watch Black Panther I want to give it my full attention. I want to be able to pause, rewind for better understanding, fast forward the dodgy parts if I feel the need to. Heck I wanna be able to put the bloody subtitles on if I wanted to.

…And you’ve guessed it, I actually can’t wait to watch it

As you’ve probably gathered by now, it’s not that I categorically refuse to watch this film. On the contrary. I’m actually quite eager and excited to see it (although it took me a while to get to this point – I was totally unmoved at first). I just don’t want to go to the cinema to see it.

Now I’m hoping it won’t disappoint. I have a feeling it won’t, but I also think my response to the film will be very different to what I’ve witnessed so far on social media. My response is not likely to be as emotionally charged and passionate. And that’s not because I’m cold, it’s because I’m not easily moved by fiction. Give me a good real-life, heartfelt, poignant documentary; I’ll give you emotion and a passionate review. Marvel film? Nah. I also don’t think the Internet needs another Black Panther review, so I’ll spare you the post-viewing analysis of the masterpiece.

Black Panther

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