Black Panther shattered box office records in its opening weekend and has dominated ever since. In fact, it’s already become the 10th largest domestic release of all time. As a community of creators, we’re also consumers, so you know we had to check it out. Here is what a few members of The Prompt crew have to say about the movie. Yes, this is your official SPOILER ALERT, but also, seriously, you haven’t seen it yet?
Erin Vail: Energetic. Warm. Fun.
Brian McGackin: Connected. But. Standalone.
Jay Kasten: Black. (Super.) Power.
Meg Kearns: Thrilling. Fun. Powerful.
Zach Straus: Necessarymovie. Winstondukeisreallyhot. Bigplothole.
Dimana Neykova: Empowering. Entertaining. Sexy.
N. Alysha Lewis: Fabulous. Thought-provoking. Necessary.
Monica McNutt: Empowering. Compelling. Timely.
Erin: It was great! The crowd was amped, laughed a lot, and buzzed with excitement throughout and after the movie.
Brian: I saw the movie on a Disney Cruise, and it seemed like the entire boat was in the theater. The audience was mostly white, but the Black audience members came prepared with Black Panther t-shirts, dashikis, and other items worn specially for the occasion. The atmosphere was fantastic, and everyone seemed to love the movie, including my mother and grandmother.
Jay: I saw the movie at 9:30 A.M. on a Saturday, and it set the most awesome tone for the rest of my weekend. What an enjoyable breakfast!
Meg: SO much fun! Not just the theater I went to (with fellow Prompt-er Erin and some of our friends,) but the entire dang shopping center that it was in (shout-out to The Grove) was full of hyped-up people taking photos in their best African-inspired textiles. In the theater, too, we had a fun and loudcrowd who fully engaged in the movie.
Zach: Hm. How to discuss this and acknowledge the reality of my moviegoing experience without stumbling into racial/cultural tropes? Well, it was definitely different from seeing, say, Ladybird!
The theater was split about 50/50 between Black and white viewers. I’d say my experience officially started when the couple seated next to me commented “Oh, this white boy is gonna hate us,” at a very intentional and pointed volume. This didn’t ultimately prove true, but didn’t ultimately prove false, either (80 percent due to how loudly the guy chewed mozzarella sticks, 15 percent due to their running commentary, and 5 percent due to the woman having a cellphone with a SUPREME case.)
Direct neighbors aside, the whole theater felt way more communal than usual. I’m not sure how I would’ve felt about Black Panther if I hadn’t watched it in a sold-out theater. Everyone in the audience was there to experience something, and going to a crowded screening felt necessary to processing it the right way.
On top of that, watching it with Black moviegoers right next to, in front of, and behind me certainly helped contextualize portions of the experience and overall significance of the film. Walking out after the credits was a great exercise in recognizing that, sometimes, I just need to be quiet and listen to others and that every conversation doesn’t need to have my voice in it, especially one about the intersection of race and art.
I fully acknowledge, by the way, that I’m walking back on that last sentence by even writing this, but hey, you asked.
Dimana: Just walking into the movie theater was different from any other moviegoing experience I’d had. There was electricity in the air, excitement in the conversations, and a sense of something big we were about to witness. People came with their entire families—old and young. It felt quite special.
N. Alysha: It was normal for me. I went with my husband to our favorite theater. There were many families of color, but I don’t think that would’ve made a difference in my moviegoing experience.
Monica: I very rarely suffer from FOMO, but I totally blew it by not getting in character to see the movie. There were people dressed as the political party Black Panthers, folks sporting their finest African garb, and some who just looked a little wild. It did create a minor complex for me about appropriating as a Black American. The first time I saw the movie, the theater was pretty diverse, and most folks watched intently. I was guilty of a few outbursts and turned to my friends, admitting I wished I were in an all-Black environment, so I’d be more part of the choir than a soloist. The second time I saw the movie I got my wish.
Erin: Shuri is definitely my favorite character!
Brian: Killmonger and his museum look 😍
Jay: Shuri, Shuri, and Shuri. Is there even a debate here?
Meg: Killmonger is probably the best Marvel villain ever and one of the top-tier movie villains of all time. Also, I loved the ensemble of strong female characters, played by Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, and Angela Bassett.
Zach: Killmonger was an incredible villain—believable, sympathetic, and wonderfully brought to life by Jordan. He was monstrous but not a monster, the necessary ideological foil to the traditional Wakandan isolationism.
Dimana: Okoye. Her character was such a badass—fierce, independent, confident, loyal, and striking. I would have her in my squad any day.
N. Alysha: Shuri, obviously. Hilarious WOC in STEM!
Monica: Okoye and the bald heads of the Dora Milaje (“The Grace Jones-lookin’ chics,” the fierce female warriors.)
Erin: “WHAT ARE THOOOOOOOSE?” because it felt genuine, and I’m glad Vine is now canon in the MCU.
Brian: The casino scene. It establishes a lot of the larger themes and plot points, brings a bunch of the characters together for the first time, and sets us up for how badass the larger fight scenes are going to be.
Jay: Killmonger’s final line gave me a new perspective on the entire movie: “Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, ’cause they knew death was better than bondage.” Man, I was like, OOOF!
Meg: “Would you kill me, my love?” “For Wakanda? No question.” That was the line that far and away prompted the most cheering and applause from the theater audience.
Zach: “Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, ‘cause they knew death was better than bondage.” — Killmonger. It was a necessary reminder that, even in the Marvel Universe, in the fictional country of Wakanda, more technologically advanced than anywhere else on earth, colonialism and slavery still echo, and there is no joy without recognition of trauma and pain.
Dimana: The first challenge day ceremony on the waterfall cliffs where all the tribes gathered to crown T’Challa as their king. Seeing all the different make-up and costumes inspired by real African tribes was mesmerizing. The music, the dances, the rituals—I had goosebumps the entire scene.
N. Alysha: When T’Challa visits the ancestral plane and is just, like, “Guys, what the fuck?!”
Monica: “Just because something works doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.” — Shuri. Also, the conversation between Okoye and Nakia after Killmonger assumes the throne really resonated with me: “I’m not a spy who can come and go as they so please. I am loyal to that throne, no matter who sits upon it. [If you love your country,] then you serve your country.” “No. I save my country.”
Erin: Definitely. I can’t speak on what it’s like to see the movie as a person of color, but Black Panther definitely feels like a tip of the scales towards progress, and I’m so happy.
Brian: I do. While it isn’t the first Black-starring Marvel film, it’s the first Black-centric one, and it leans into that well. There have been a number of underrated and underappreciated Black action films and Black action stars, and, unfortunately, a lot of that has been intentional. It shouldn’t take the combined forces of an all-star cast, a conscientious and representative director, and a script with such a strong and clear focus to receive the major studio and critical support that Black Panther has. Hopefully, it will pave the way for future projects to receive similar industry backing.
Jay: Absolutely. More than being just an all-Black superhero movie, it was a near cavalcade of Black women characters. Again: SHURI.
Meg: Absolutely! It is downright untrue to call Black Panther the first superhero movie with an African-American star, but it is the first movie of the current Marvel era to have a predominantly Black cast, in addition to a Black director and screenwriter, and that’s definitely important. Representation matters! Hopefully, the successes of Black Panther and last year’s Wonder Woman have sufficiently alerted Hollywood studios to the fact that diversity is fucking bankable!
Zach: Of course. Any time Black art is consumed by a large group of Americans in a way that’s not hegemonic or parasitic, it’s significant. Especially if it firmly passes the Bechdel Test.
Dimana: Absolutely. This was a long time coming, and there was no doubt in my mind I was going to support the movie. What I didn’t expect was how empowering it would turn out to be not only for people of color but for women. There were no damsels in distress. No waiting for the male hero to drop the funny punch line. No one-dimensional female characters whose main purpose was to be someone’s love interest. Those were real women who stood their ground and whose strength and abilities were never questioned. They were admirable.
N. Alysha: I think any Marvel movie is a cultural moment, simply because this is a feat that’s never been tackled before (a 10-year story, taking place over 20-odd movies.) However, BP makes a gigantic cultural statement just by existing, showcasing so many talented Black actors, and being directed by a talented Black man; just Blackness everywhere and for days, and it’s necessary!
Monica: I do think BP is a cultural moment and hope its influence is not fleeting. I walked away from the theater so happy after seeing a film with an essentially all-Black cast and featuring incredible Black women and not the typical “hilarious lack comedian.” I’m not a Marvel enthusiast or a major movie buff, but BP can have all my money.
I’m accustomed to seeing Black films that portray extremely sexualized, unintelligent, criminal, or enslaved Black life on screen. As much as I love Lupita Nyong’o, I still haven’t seen 12 Years a Slave for that reason. To be able to celebrate a king, his family, and his incomparable nation, was so refreshing. Not that this movie didn’t come without pain, beautifully demonstrated by Michael “Bae” Jordan, or that I didn’t think about the idea of hoarding your resources when you have the ability to make impactful change, but those would be dreams and not sleep-disrupting nightmares.
Erin: Michael B. Jordan lives? This is entirely selfish.
Brian: I probably would’ve had more Andy Serkis and less Martin Freeman. I understand the idea behind killing Klaue and “converting” colonizer Ross, but in terms of intensity and excitement on the screen, the former brought much more than the latter.
Meg: KILLMONGER COULD’VE LIVED, OK?
Zach: I have a story-based quibble. There’s a gaping plot hole, surrounding T’challa’s survival after the fight with Killmonger. He’s been stripped of his powers, beaten to near-death, then thrown unconscious over a facsimile of Victoria Falls. He SOMEHOW survives the fall, SOMEHOW gets discovered by a fisherman, and SOMEHOW survives the long-ass trip up to Jabari Land. How?! It’s not merit-based, it’s not explained; it’s simply luck and a narrative necessity. It felt like incredibly lazy writing/filmmaking and stood out because the rest of the move is anything but.
Dimana: I wanted to know more about Killmonger’s American mom!
N. Alysha: More Angela Bassett!!! QUEEEEEEEEEN!
Monica: W’Kabi was so predictable. I’m curious how being a turncoat played in his love life. Okoye did not play.
Erin: I wish MBJ lived because I like looking at his face and body? And, honestly, he did make a lot of great points. He wouldn’t have been the WORST Wakandan leader. Wakanda Forever!
Brian: Daniel Kaluuya’s characters have made some rather questionable choices this past year regarding whom to trust. I’d like to see him play someone who makes better decisions.
Meg: I love Kendrick Lamar’s soundtrack to the film so much, I wish more tracks made it into the actual movie. Although hearing my favorite, Opps, during the car chase scene in Busan was an amazing moment.
Zach: Winston Duke is hot, and I Google him a lot.
Dimana: I giggled every time they said “vibranium,” but that’s also because I’m a child.
N. Alysha: It’s gonna be really hard for me to watch Infinity War now, with Captain America back at the helm of the team. I hate him, and the amazingness of BP, specifically T’Challa’s ability to recognize his own mistakes, makes me hate Captain America more, and I don’t want him in charge of the Avengers! He’s terrible, and T’Challa should kick him to the curb.
Monica: The M’Baku Challenge has been my favorite fruit of the movie. (I’ve got a pretty solid impression myself.) I also got a super dope chance to discuss BP on The Edge of Sports podcast, and this “Notes on a Scene” by Ryan Coogler gave me so much life. I especially love the breakdown of the wig scene and the fighting style of both women.