Not to be dramatic or anything, but counting down to the premier of Marvel’s Black Panther is becoming a daily adrenalin rush. And can you blame us? This movie is a big deal. It’s not only Marvel’s first black superhero movie, it also ‘explores what it means to be African’, according to director Ryan Coogler.
If I were to unpack exactly why Black Panther matters so much to me as a black African Millennial who’s enjoyed film and series mostly through a Western canon up until, say 2014, you’d be scrolling down for another hour. So I’ll save you my ‘I have a dream’ speech and let you do your own extra reading on why Black Panther is revolutionary instead.
But before you do that, here are five things to love about the movie before you even watch it:
1. Wakanda’s official language
South African acting veteran Dr John Kani plays T’Chaka, the first Black Panther and king of Wakanda. In a scene in which he is talking to his young son (played by his IRL son, Atandwa Kani), he introduces isiXhosa into the film’s otherwise 100% English dialogue. ‘Unqabile nyana, ndikugqibele kudala (I miss you my son, I haven’t seen you in a long time),’ he says, establishing isiXhosa as the indigenous language of the technologically advanced kingdom of Wakanda.
2. South African designers’ work on the red carpet for the world premiere
The red carpet of the Black Panther world premiere had a clear theme – Afrochic, Afrofuturism, Afroglam. Many cast members showed up in their usual big-name couture, but four graced the red carpet styled by local South African designers.
German Ugandan actress Florence Kasumba wore a David Tlale dress, a proud moment for David, who says, ‘It fits her body like a glove. She was so excited to receive it and when she did the fitting in Berlin on Saturday, they face-timed me and it looked beyond phenomenal. You can never go wrong with a black dress on the red carpet. We wanted to give Florence a timeless look and her favourite colour is black – a perfect match.’
South African actress Connie Chiume looked regal in a blue Antherline creation complete with the iconic gold Ndebele idzila necklace.
And in case you missed it, father-and-son team John and Atandwa Kani were dressed by the highly acclaimed Laduma Ngxokolo of MAXHOSA, and accessorised with Xhosa beads.
3. Kendrick Lamar’s soundtrack
The King of Compton unveiled the full soundtrack for the most anticipated movie of the year earlier this week. The album, which officially drops on 9 February, features SZA, Jorja Smith, ScHoolBoy Q, 2 Chainz, Swae Lee, The Weeknd, Anderson Paak and James Blake just to name a few. But most importantly, it features four of South Africa’s most celebrated musos: Sjava, Saudi, Yugen Blakrok and Babes Wodumo.
Although a few social media critics have said the soundtrack could have done with more African features, four talented South African artists appearing on the album is still worth celebrating.
Black Panther The Album 2/9 pic.twitter.com/MqhsEcj6iF
— Kendrick Lamar (@kendricklamar) January 31, 2018
Look at God 🙏🏽…I am very excited and honored to have received such an opportunity together with other African artists who are paving the way in getting local talent recognized abroad. Washa wennnnaa💃🏽💃🏽… West Ink Records siyaphambili kuphela 🙌🏽. #WestInk #BlackPanther pic.twitter.com/tu8k8eBtwH
— Bongekile simelane (@BABESWODUMO) February 1, 2018
4. Danai Gurira making Zimbabwe proud
Another African country represented in Black Panther is Zimbabwe, with Zim actress and playwright Danai Gurira playing Okoye. She cropped her hair for the role, showing a dedication to her craft that has Zim fans gleaming with pride.
5. Wakanda puns
Of course, Twitter is having a lot of fun with this one, from changing Twitter names to include some variation of ‘Wakanda’ to rather funny puns.
This tweet has definitely won the week:
Wakanda question is this? https://t.co/m2PmD5UZ0N
— Jalen (@jalenblot) February 1, 2018
The countdown continues…