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On Sympathies

So I’ve seen both Black Panther and Death Wish over the space of a couple of days. I came to the conclusion that, for different reasons, it wouldn’t be possible to talk about either one of these movies without talking about politics, politics, and more politics. So this, officially, is *NOT* a Mindless Diversions post. (That doesn’t mean that you don’t have to follow the regular site rules in comments, though.)

There are spoilers for Black Panther here. I guess? Theoretically? There are spoilers for Death Wish? But if you’ve seen the trailer for Death Wish, you’ve seen more or less every single plot point in the movie and the spoiler, such as it is, is that Death Wish is spoiler-proof. Black Panther, however, is *NOT* spoiler-proof and I touch on some of the potential spoilers below.

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Black Panther is the latest in the Marvel Superhero Universe and tells a great rip-rollicking tale. If you haven’t seen it already, it’s yet another Superhero story (that Marvel under Disney does oh-so-well) and we get the full backstory of T’Challa, The King of Wakanda (and son of T’Chaka, Wakanda’s previous ruler) and see how he becomes worthy of the title of King (and, yes, the title of Black Panther). We go through the full Marvel treatment with gorgeous sets that you can’t believe are green screened, special effects that you kinda believe are green screened, interesting villains who are given at least one good speech that make you say “the bad guy kinda has a point there”, and action sequences that have your jaw on the floor.

The bad guy in this film is Killmonger: a nephew of T’Chaka and cousin to T’Challa. Raised in Oakland by his father, little brother to T’Chaka, he learned about Wakanda being a place of wealth and beauty that refused to help the people of Oakland rather than of Wakanda as a beautiful oasis unsullied by the awful poverty found elsewhere in the rest of the world. When Killmonger makes it to Wakanda, he announces that he is N’Jadaka, son of Prince N’Jobu, and would like to challenge T’Challa to the throne. After a successful challenge in physical combat, Killmonger announces that he will send the wealth and weapons of Wakanda to all of the oppressed of the world that they might fight back against their oppressors. T’Challa puts a relatively quick end to this and kills Killmonger and puts the kibosh on arming the world’s oppressed. He abandons the idea of isolationism, however, and establishes programs that will help with affordable housing, education, science, and so on.

Which is where I begin to feel somewhat confused. Killmonger makes an interesting moral argument (indeed, there’s even a #KillmongerWasRight hashtag floating about the twitters) but the writers rely on a fairly subtle trick to discredit his argument:

If you take an interesting moral argument and put it in the mouth of someone who commits an atrocity or two, you can cheapen the argument without addressing it. Sort of a meta-ad hominem. Instead of arguing that the person who made the argument is bad, and therefore the argument is wrong, the movie instead *SHOWS* that the person who made the argument is bad, and therefore the argument is wrong.

Now, at the end of the movie, they *DO* end the isolationism (there’s another hashtag going around pointing out that #NakiaWasRight) and, much like at the end of The Last Jedi, the argument is that we don’t win by destroying what we hate but by saving what we love…

But they never really addressed Killmonger’s moral argument. They waved it away by pointing out that it was made by a bad, bad person.

(There was another character who made a surprising argument about refugees. W’Kabi says “If you take in refugees, they will bring their problems with them. Then Wakanda will be like everywhere else.” Now, W’Kabi does find himself on the wrong side of the final confrontation’s conflict… but the end of the movie shows Wakanda engaging in reaching out to the outside world. It doesn’t show Wakanda taking in refugees. Once again the movie resolves the problem of the argument not by refuting it, but putting it into the mouth of someone who loses a fight.)

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Anyway, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is pretty much a wonder. It consistently puts out high-quality superhero movies that not only please the general audiences who aren’t that familiar with superheroes who aren’t the Big Names but also please the long-time reader and collectors who know, at a glance, whether the Iron Man suit they’re looking at is the 2nd one, the 3rd one, the 4th one, or the 5th one. (Does it have pointy things over the eyes or are the pointy things pointing back at the temples?) That said, most of the Marvel Superhero movies suffer from something like “Men In Black” syndrome. You watch the movie. You enjoy it. You walk to your car and go home and go to bed but, somewhere between the theater and waking up the next day, you get flashed by the Men In Black and you can’t remember a thing about the movie you just saw other than that you have some general good feelings about it.

So now, I sit here after seeing Black Panther wondering if I’m going to remember anything about it tomorrow. Better write this stuff down now.

(Two days later… Um… I remember Killmonger being interesting. I remember having problems with some of the science and tech. I remember the mountain guy who was also one of the guys on Person of Interest. Everything else is fading into the “general good vibes” that I feel for Ragnarok and Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy 2.)

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Black Panther *IS* the Marvel Movie version of sci-fi and so it will therefore have a lot of magic-ish technobabble as it talks about technology, but there is a scene where somebody gets shot in the spine and thanks to the magical technology of Wakanda, he is healed and his spine is fixed within *HOURS*.

I was reminded of the movie Elysium for that scene.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a movie that came out in 2013 as a fable about inequality. There were two worlds. The ugly and torn-up Earth and a very, very rich city in the sky called Elysium. Well, Elysium has these medical machines that cure everything. Genetic diseases, lost limbs, whatever. Go into the machine, push a button, and *POOF* you’re cured. It can even reverse the aging process! Of course, only Elysium people can use the machines and sick people from Earth can’t. The climax of the movie involves a sick-unto-death earthling child being put into one of the machines and the button being pressed and it healing her.

“Dang. They sure put a lot of thumbs on that scale!”, I remember thinking.

Anyway, Wakanda seems to have tech that is this good. They’ve been keeping it to themselves for decades. Maybe centuries.

This isn’t portrayed as the moral monstrosity that it was in Elysium, though. It’s only kinda troublesome when you go to the fridge a couple days after the movie.

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It’s difficult to talk about Black Panther without talking about race. I thought that the movie was pretty good, like a lot of the other Marvel Superhero movies but, yeah, I’m a white guy. I see Superhero movies pretty regularly and, yeah, pretty much all of the other ones have had white protagonists (insert paragraph about Blade, Meteor Man, Hancock, Spawn, and (sigh) Blankman somewhere around here). This is the first movie with a black superhero since, oh, Blade II that has had a decent script, decent director, and a decent budget. But more than that: it’s also the first movie with a black superhero that also had a black supervillain, a black supporting cast, a black writer, a black director, and so on and so forth. (Indeed, if you’re wondering how many white folks have more than one or two scenes in the movie, there are but two. Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman.)

So while I was just watching a Superhero movie, the umpteenth in umpteen Superhero movies, I also know that there were a *TON* of people out there who did *NOT* look like me who were *FINALLY* watching a *GOOD* Superhero movie with a black superhero that also had a black supervillain, a black supporting cast, a black writer, a black director, and so on and so forth.

So while I was just watching a movie, I know that for a lot of people out there, this was not just a movie but a landmark event.

But that, itself, created drama. There were some groups out there who said that they were going to sabotage Black Panther’s reviews the way that they trashed The Last Jedi’s and those of the recent Ghostbusters remake, and Rotten Tomatoes said that they were going to take steps to prevent that sort of thing from happening. Well… I guess when they took steps to prevent that sort of thing from happening, it (temporarily) resulted in Black Panther being the highest rated movie of all time at Rotten Tomatoes. (Shortly after it made it to the top of the list, it was removed from the list entirely in some attempt to keep the list’s integrity, I guess.)

And that sort of thing makes it difficult to say “I thought the movie was pretty good” knowing that that will be read as insufficient enthusiasm for an Important Cultural Event. But the movie was, indeed, pretty good.

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You know how Black Panther did the whole “you don’t win by destroying what you hate, but by saving what you love” thing?

Death Wish does *NOT* do that.

Death Wish is a movie that deals with the issue of shooting what you hate. Maybe torturing it for information about other things that you hate so you can shoot that stuff too.

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Death Wish is a Superhero origin movie of sorts. Bruce Willis is Dr. Paul Kersey, a surgeon at a big hospital in Chicago (is there any other city in which this story could be told in 2018?). He’s got a lovely wife about to finish her PhD, a lovely daughter fixing to go off to college, a brother who probably drives him crazy but whom he loves anyway, and a good life in general.

But there’s a home invasion burglary that goes wrong and his wife is killed and his daughter is put in a coma. He turns to the police but the police are inept and he sees a wall covered with 3×5 cards upon one of which is his incident … but it’s surrounded by practically identical 3×5 cards. So many crimes. So many criminals. So little justice.

If you want more than that, just watch the trailer. The broad strokes of the movie are all pretty much in there.

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The original Death Wish did something fairly interesting: the bad guys who attack the protagonist’s family have their wicked scene at the beginning and then we never see them again.

Charles Bronson walks around the city shooting criminals who aren’t the ones who hurt his loved ones. So when he shoots a bad guy, there isn’t revenge going on. He’s, instead, shooting someone a lot like the people who hurt his family. Or, maybe they are. They probably are. They’re criminals, anyway.

Which creates a weird, nihilistic ennui in the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Justice he dishes out.

This Death Wish does not do that. Sure, at the beginning of the movie, he shoots people who are merely criminals rather than criminals who were directly related to what happened to his wife and daughter. We get around to the ones involved in the attack in good time and then it turns into a revenge movie proper. He’s no longer shooting people who are probably just as bad as the ones who hurt his family. They are exactly that bad. That removes an interesting ambiguity that the original had and feels like Eli Roth putting his thumb on the scale (one of many that he places there).

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It’s not merely a commercial for the NRA. The movie throws a lot of little Easter Eggs to conservative-types (rather than at them). For example, at one point there is an economics book that gets discussed and it’s by Milton Friedman. At another point, the Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe shows up. There’s a lot of talk radio from different sides of the spectrum coming straight from the mouths of Mancow on one station and Sway on another and they’re debating this guy who is shooting criminals out there on the street as if there are two sides to the debate.

Subtlety is absolutely *NOT* this movie’s strong suit. There are montages that involve shots of Dr. Kersey learning to shoot right next to shots of Dr. Kersey removing bullets from wounds.

If you are a fan of guns, you’re really going to be surprised at how guns are handled in this movie. For example, if you’ve ever thought “man, if that guy were firing a Glock like that, he’d cut that meaty part of his hand between his thumb and forefinger!” Well, guess what happens? Yep. The guy cuts the meaty part of his hand between his thumb and forefinger because he was firing a Glock like that.

So if you’re a fan of guns, well, you might like this film. They treat guns with enough respect to show what happens if you don’t know what you’re doing.

If you’re hoping for an interesting moral argument? Oh, you may want to see Black Panther instead. There are no interesting moral arguments to be found here. There are either arguments that you agree with or arguments that you disagree with but none that you can really wrestle with. There are too many thumbs on too many scales for anything but having your priors confirmed (one way or the other).

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Death Wish is also a movie that is difficult to talk about without talking about race.

Bruce Willis is a white guy who shoots a bunch of criminals. Sure, some of the criminals are white (most of them are white, now that I think about it), but he also shoots an unsympathetic African-American drug dealer and I think the first person he shoots is coded Hispanic. But the murders of people of color happen early in the vigilante portion of the movie before digging deep into the “he’s only shooting white guys at this point” portion.

And it felt weird that he was only shooting white guys. Like they were going out of their way to demonstrate that they weren’t being racist because, hey, the torture and interrogation and those murders are only committed against white guys at this point so what are you complaining about? Almost a “racism by void” kinda thing.

In the same way, the attack on the family is much more restrained than in the 1974 flick. There are only (“only”, he says) threats of sexual violence in this movie when, in the 1974 one, those threats are carried through and brutally. So it’s almost a nicer movie than the original because of that.

That said, you’re not likely to remember much about the movie two days later. It does what it does competently enough but, for better or worse, not particularly memorably.

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I found both movies to be well worth the $10. But I’m also the type to enjoy both movies. When I think about whether these movies are likely to change the mind of someone who does not care for the genre they exemplify, I don’t see either one changing any minds.

Black Panther is an exceptionally competent Superhero movie with an interesting villain. Death Wish is an exceptionally competent Revenge flick with an interesting protagonist.

If you hate Superhero movies, this ain’t gonna change your mind. If you hate Revenge flicks, this ain’t gonna change your mind.

But if you’re inclined to like these sorts of things? Buckle up.

(Photo is “Curtain Time” by Cybaea. Used under a Creative Commons License.)


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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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125 thoughts on “On Sympathies

  1. Oh, one thing that I forgot to mention about Death Wish. The brother is played by Vincent D’Onofrio who, if you remember movies like The Cell or shows like The Punisher, is an actor who does a *GREAT* job of radiating menace.

    Well, not in this movie! He doesn’t really do anything. Like, I find myself wondering why they bothered to get him if they just wanted him to give a performance that pretty much any actor from central casting could have delivered.

    Luckily, he’s not in the movie much. Which, again, makes you wonder why they had him.

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  2. I saw Black Panther twice. Reallly liked it. I’d like to address the whole “Killmonger’s argument was good but they undermined it by what he did” thing.

    This has been going on since Shakespeare, at least. Othello sounds pretty reasonable (Iago doesn’t). And then he kills Desdemona. Lady Macbeth thinks she’s being reasonable to suggest that Macbeth kill Duncan. After all, being good at killing is what got Macbeth his last two promotions.

    Words aren’t divorced from the people who speak them and the lives that they live. Never. They also are influenced by whatever discourse they are situated in.

    Most people when they hear someone say that, try to answer the question “why did they say that?” At least to some degree.

    All too often our answer to ending oppression ends up being “I’ll put myself in charge and then I won’t be oppressed. Only those people who deserve it will suffer.” This never works out well. Nor does it end oppression, though it does change the roles around. And if we are to interpret Killmonger’s message in the light of his actions, that’s what he wants. He even says, “We’ll build a Wakandan Empire”.

    And, at the same time, neither T’Challa or Wakanda as a country has adopted the “heroic stance” with regard to the world. Superheros are public, and they serve the public. They build alliances.

    Only at the end of the movie is Black Panther an actual hero.

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    • Words aren’t divorced from the people who speak them and the lives that they live. Never. They also are influenced by whatever discourse they are situated in.

      Sure, but Black Panther had writers.

      Would Killmonger’s arguments have felt differently if, for example, he wasn’t quite so willing to take shortcuts when he was capturing Claue?

      If so, that’s the writers deliberately putting their thumbs on the scale.

      Nothing wrong with putting your thumb on the scale, of course. (I also dug Death Wish and that movie had its damn hand on it) But if you want to wrestle with the argument, it’s fair to point out the thumb.

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      • First of all, it’s a superhero movie. It’s about how to be a hero. Films with no thumb on the scale tend to be nihilistic and mostly meaningless. It is incredibly hard to make an emotional connection to them. There is no such thing as an argument that is divorced from a person. Mathematical proof tries really hard to be that; it ends up with a very tenuous connection to reality in doing so. Killmonger had his thumb on the scale when he said those things. It’s turtles all the way down.

        But you can reverse it. People like Killmonger often say those sorts of things. Everyone is a hero in their own story. While running Leverage John Rogers coined a phrase “The Evil Speech of Evil” wherein the villain told you why he is the good guy.

        What makes Black Panther so good, in my mind, is that the injury to Eric, and to the African diaspora, is real, and as an actor, Michael B. Jordan can turn on a dime from menace to vulnerability, and bring his characters trauma right into the laps of the viewer. That is a major, major artistic accomplishment.

        His last line is about the slaves who jumped off the slave ships and drowned rather than be captured. This is a perfect character moment. We are aware that there are many who made that choice and many more who did not, who decided to live. Killmonger, however, despises the weak, and wishes to die rather than lose. This is not, to my mind, the attitude of a healthy person. Which kind of makes it fit with Death Wish, doesn’t it?

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        • Yeah the entire scene with Eric’s spirit journey into Compton to meet his Father, all alone and crying in that apartment building, was astonishingly well done and powerful. Especially how Killmonger himself manifested as a child. Contrast that with T’Challa who was entirely adult in the spirit world when he spoke to the Kings (and Queens) who had come before him.

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        • Films with no thumb on the scale tend to be nihilistic and mostly meaningless.

          Okay. I totally disagree with this.
          If your argument needs thumbs on the scale to defeat other arguments and that’s why you need thumbs on the scale, then *THAT* is nihilistic.

          But that’s a post.

          This is not, to my mind, the attitude of a healthy person. Which kind of makes it fit with Death Wish, doesn’t it?

          Oh, I agree. But, again, this is a thumb on the scale.

          “I will fight you, who protects the oppressors. I see you as on their side. You’d best kill me because I will fight the oppressors and their enablers until I am dead.”

          Then put him in a prison so strong that only someone truly skilled with sufficient willpower could get out of.

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          • I’d love to read that post. However, I suspect we aren’t talking about the same thing.

            Referring to the last pull quote. The issue comes from the word “fight” which is incredibly vague. It’s clear that Killmonger includes killing his own girlfriend, who (according to the comics) proactively supports him, as fighting.

            I categorically reject that Killmonger’s meaning of “fight” is the only possible one. I think T’Challa (and Nakia and Shuri) have embarked on a course of fighting oppression, but with different methods.

            This is about what the words mean when someone says them as much as what the words themselves are. And this dilemma is inescapable. Words do not mean the same thing to different people. They are approximate and crude.

            When I say, “I’ll be back” it means something quite different from when The Terminator says it.

            Actions illuminate words as much as words illuminate actions.

            You choose to call that idea “putting a thumb on the scale”. I don’t care to dispute that terminology, since arguing about terminology leads to conversations that are overly scholastic. In my view.

            I will hold though, that in drama, one often strives to show give further meaning to a characters’ words through his or her actions, and vice-versa.

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            • I suppose that it’s unfair to the argument that I am not on team #KillmongerWasRight as much as I am on team #TheyKindaWeakmannedKillmongersArgumentInsteadOfSteelmanningIt.

              Do I, personally, think that Killmonger’s world is more likely to look like Haiti than, say, the Dominican Republic?

              Yeah. I do.

              But I don’t think that Black Panther demonstrated that as much as the writers merely did what was necessary to have the right side win.

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      • Would Killmonger’s arguments have felt differently if, for example, he wasn’t quite so willing to take shortcuts when he was capturing Claue?

        No. At root he’s a super powered race rioter. His plan, such as it is, is to scale that up a lot into a world wide race riot and/or civil wars.

        Killmonger doesn’t have an economic policy other than burn stuff down for revenge. He doesn’t have a political policy other than burn stuff down for revenge. I get the emotional ring of “they deserve it”, but firing up civil wars everywhere and burning down the current system to put the most ruthless local warlord in charge isn’t going to end well, even for the people who are currently “oppressed”.

        This is a great movie, maybe Marvel’s best. I’m fine with Killmonger believing he’s right and being the hero of his own story. I can see the world through his eyes and understand where he’s at.

        But even if his past weren’t covered with blood, his future would be covered with blood.

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    • At the end of the movie T’Challa made a disastrously bad decision to open up Wakanda. Why do I say this? Because for centuries Wakanda enjoyed unbroken peace and prosperity, but as a result of T’Challa’s politically correct decision, Wakanda will be front and center in the Marvel Universe. That’s like volunteering your country to be ground zero for an asteroid strike, over and over again.

      Also, black panthers aren’t black, they’re brunette, with black hair and white skin. They more closely resemble Sofia Vergara, Kim Kardasian, or Katie Holmes. Meow!

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  3. There were two worlds. The ugly and torn-up Earth and a very, very rich city in the sky called Elysium.

    Did the Asimov estate get royalties?

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  4. The biggest impression Black Panther made on me had nothing to do with what happened in the movie (though I thought the movie was very good). It had more to do with the number of smiling non-white faces I saw leaving the theater as I approached it. It had to do with watching all the ads and shorts before the movie that featured mostly non-white faces and people that didn’t look like me and realizing that Hey! I bet this is how non-whites feel every time they go see a movie.

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  5. Wakanda might be a stand in for Ethiopia, the one African polity that managed to avoid colonization for the most part, besides six years under Italy, but didn’t really do that much to lead other oppressed people for a variety of reasons. The main thing is that it barely maintained its’ independence and decided that not messing around in international politics would be the best way to do so. Another reason was that Ethiopia did not undergo a full modernization like Japan did because many of its’ leaders were opposed to full modernization. Wakanda doesn’t have this excuse because it is a science-fiction utopia with super weapons.

    Like Saul, I think that Black Panther can’t really address the merits of the isolationist approach or the Killmonger approach because of the limits of the genre. In the end, it is a mass market action movie and people are going to want to see action more than politics. A novel or comic book that isn’t going for a mass market and doesn’t really need to worry about length can really go in greater exploration of the issues. A book or comic book can really explore who Killmonger considers an oppressed people. Isn’t limited to Blacks? Does it include different groups in Asia? Would Jews be an oppressed people? Women? LGBT people?

    In the Marvel Universe, Killmonger’s plan makes no sense because other countries have superheroes to. Many of these superheroes are functional gods or quite close. Even if you aim the oppressed people, varyingly defined, with Wakanda’s technology, the oppressors have supers they can rely on.

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    • From what I understand, Wakanda is on the border of Ethiopia. So that’s probably a deliberate choice on the part of the original writers.

      A book or comic book can really explore who Killmonger considers an oppressed people. Isn’t limited to Blacks? Does it include different groups in Asia? Would Jews be an oppressed people? Women? LGBT people?

      From my recollection of the movie, I think that the primary focus was, indeed, Black folks.

      Which had the interesting result of Black Panther and the FBI killing Wakandans in an effort to protect white folks from Killmonger.

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      • Which had the interesting result of Black Panther and the CIA killing Wakandans in an effort to protect white folks from Killmonger.

        Only if you assume Wakandan can effortlessly win, that Killmonger can really conquer the world with 5 ships loaded with high tech sonic guns.

        If you think Killmonger is starting a hopelessly unwinnable war (see Pearl Harbor), that it’s one nuke away from being exterminated and doesn’t have the numbers to actually win, then the Black Panther is saving Wakandans.

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            • They talk about why Wakanda wasn’t historically open in some detail fairly early on in the movie (early enough that I think Jay missed it b/c of the popcorn run? but it’s possible he just wasn’t paying attention and it wasn’t that early – my memory of infodumps tends to be cumulative rather than linear), and the basic argument made (explicitly made, though) is that they knew if anyone knew what they had (the vibranium), the white colonial powers would have stopped at nothing to invade and overpower them.

              The argument among the good guys (and I would include T’Challa, Nakia, Okoye, and W’Kabi as people who are fundamentally good, albeit in violent conflict, all of them except Nakia changing their minds at least once on camera… who resolve their differences by the end of the movie), is “are we strong enough to survive the world knowing about us, and do we have a moral obligation to take that risk without being sure? How much is the risk? How much is the obligation? Given that both are true, what is the correct path forward?”

              It’s fairly easy to extrapolate that if they’re that worried about being *known*, they’d best be 80 times more worried about trying to conquer.

              One related thing I was thinking about, which isn’t on one side or the other of this question, but a different one:

              Not because of the movie per se but as someone who has read more than 5, less than 10 Wakanda comics, I’m very attuned to how much of T’Challa’s ability to look beyond the Wakandan borders is based on him having been out *in the wider world*, with autonomy, freedom of movement, the ability to compare and contrast a broad range of situations for a long time. Unlike his father, who sent people out into the world to bring information back, T’Challa himself (even in MCU continuity) has been out being an Avenger. He doesn’t see non-Wakandans as “the other”, to be avoided or conquered, in the same way that a Wakandan who’d never left Wakanda would…

              (Nakia, also, is explicitly described as having her views of wanting to save the world being tied to her experiences as a spy out in the world. And Killmonger’s father (in a more personal, less global way), the same. It’s an interesting contrast to W’Kabi and, to a lesser degree, Oloye, who know Wakanda in a deeper way, the outside world much less so.)

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              • (Heh. Just realized I left Shuri out of my list of good guys. Thought it was an oversight, then realized it was deliberate – Shuri is a fabulous character, but her morality is familial and she doesn’t really – at this young age – have a compelling struggle over what the right path is. She follows T’Challa because he’s her older brother, whom she reveres, and she would gladly die to protect him – as he would her – as family… it’s not amorality but she doesn’t have the same weight of moral agency and decision making as the characters I named. Rightfully so, she’s only sixteen.)

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              • OK, thanks. I guess I don’t really agree with you on this — while yes, in general they absolutely don’t want to be known by the outside, the vibe I got from the big battle scene was that the good guys were battling to save all the innocents out there that would be killed. In fact, if their main concern from all these weapons being shipped out to people who intended to use them was just that Wakanda itself might be wiped out, then I’d say that would be a pretty big moral failure on their part.

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                • The argument that Wakanda itself was their only concern is not one I am making – in fact I don’t know how you got that from what I just said – nor is it what I read Dark Matter to be saying.

                  Jaybird didn’t say “the whole world” he said “white folks” as in definitely NOT Wakandans.

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                • Yeah I don’t think it was an either/or proposition. The movie left it purposefully vague as to whether Wakanda could actually accomplish Killmongers more grandiose claims. Then again the movie also left vague whether Killmonger himself actually thought Wakanda could accomplish his more grandiose goals or if the resulting destruction wouldn’t also suit his aims. As he himself proclaimed- he simply wanted to burn it all down.

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                  • I’d need to see it again before making any confident statements, but while it’s plausible that they would have been concerned about the potential fallout of Killmonger’s plan for Wakanda, I don’t remember any of them expressing that in the movie — I got a strong “two wrongs don’t make a right” message, not a “this could be bad for us too” message.

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        • If you think Killmonger is starting a hopelessly unwinnable war (see Pearl Harbor), that it’s one nuke away from being exterminated and doesn’t have the numbers to actually win, then the Black Panther is saving Wakandans.

          Killmonger is exporting a guerrilla war. (Dozens of them.)

          It’s not one that would be resolved by nuking Wakanda.

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          • Guerrilla war doesn’t lead to Empire in the lifetime of the person leading it. A few generations down, sure.

            Killmonger wanted the kind of personal power that only centralized government can bring. And whether it’d be resolved by nuking Wakanda or not, the risk of Wakanda ( / the Wakandan Empire’s Center wherever that ended up being) getting nuked under his leadership is darn high.

            I think this is part of why W’Kabi cedes to Okoye, although his decision in the moment seems more heart-led than head-calculated.

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          • The guerrilla war relies on Wakandan support – when Wakanda is a smoking hole in the ground, the guerrillas may find themselves over-extended.

            In any case, the US’s military doctrine around nukes is based on mutually-assured destruction. I have no doubt the US government would annihilate Wakanda on general principle, even if doing so wouldn’t end their problems.

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          • I agree with Maribou and James K. Killmonger’s horrible plan most likely would have ended up with Wakanda being nuked. Sooner or later some of his guerillas would have been apprehended and spilled the beans. The dots are out there for the right people to connect.

            Now a very solid argument could be made that Wakanda proper is un-nukable. Having lived through the cold war we can presume that Wakanda took steps to protect itself from direct nuclear attack but I’m dubious that even their level of tech could prevent a more general series of nuclear attacks both via missile’s of various ranges, planes and (importantly) nukes in trucks being set off close enough to poison Wakanda’s watershed and environs. Wakanda is a tiny city state, to be blunt. They don’t have the population or industrial capacity to conquer the world. But they could fish it up really bad.

            Stopping Killmonger was probably equal parts protecting others and protecting Wakanda.

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            • Killmonger’s horrible plan most likely would have ended up with Wakanda being nuked. Sooner or later some of his guerillas would have been apprehended and spilled the beans. The dots are out there for the right people to connect.

              Seems more likely that they’d invade someplace completely unrelated to Wakanda.

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                  • Remember what Ross said: “you told us Killmonger stole all your vibranium.” Wakanda is on record as being the source of Ultrons vibranium.
                    Once a bunch of black folk with vibranium weapons start blowing up countries and the ones that get caught or spied on say “Wakanda” methinks the cat’d get out of the bag pretty fast.

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                    • Once a bunch of black folk with vibranium weapons start blowing up countries and the ones that get caught or spied on say “Wakanda” methinks the cat’d get out of the bag pretty fast.

                      I don’t think it would be that fast…there is a bunch of vibranium already out there. Apparently, ‘tons’ were stolen, which is more than enough to make weapons for everyone.

                      Now, it will quickly become clear that all the groups are being supplied by the same supplier, someone who has obviously started making vibranium weapons, but Wakanda just say ‘We had all of our vibranium stolen, we are not exporting any more, and if you don’t believe us feel free to search every single one of our outgoing ships, or, hell, we’ll just close the port and become _complete_ isolationists. Can’t blame us for shipping vibranium out if we aren’t shipping anything out.’

                      They could even invite some inspection team in to look at their almost completely empty ‘vibranium mine’ they built specially for the occasion.

                      That said, the fact no one will figure it out fast just means _both_ sides are going to lose the war. Wakanda will indeed be discovered and destroyed, but not before the rest of the world is pretty much screwed also.

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                      • Oh agreed, Wakanda would obfuscate but, as far as I know, it’s the ONLY known source of vibranium. So if every bit of vibranium you ever know of has ever come from Wakanda, they claim they’re plumb out, then suddenly world wide all hell breaks loose with vibranium weapons that were previously completely unavailble where are you eventually going to frantically focus your suspicions? The only place where vibranium has ever come from.

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        • If you think Killmonger is starting a hopelessly unwinnable war (see Pearl Harbor), that it’s one nuke away from being exterminated and doesn’t have the numbers to actually win, then the Black Panther is saving Wakandans.

          I think that Wakanda probably has some protection against nukes (Only _some_.), and also that Killmonger was going to keep Wakandan’s involvement as quiet as possible for as long as possible.

          Not that I’m disagreeing with you, I think the war is unwinnable. I’m just pointing out the war is not going to be ‘nuked and Wakanda dies’, it’s going to be much, much worse. It’s going to be WWIII.

          And a very horrible sort of WWIII where violent extremists, for a decade, keep mysteriously being armed with insanely powerful weapons before anyone figures out what the hell is going on, propbably seizing a few countries. Then everyone eventually figures out Wakanda is doing it, and then probably another decade before Wakanda is taken down (While Wakanda-captured colonies fight on Wakanda’s side while in the middle of civil wars themselves.), and basically at the end all countries of the world are left in smoldering ruins where random strongmen defend feudal domains with left-over super-weapons.(1)

          It’s sorta hard to come up with a situation worse than a nuclear holocaust, but Black Panther might have actually figured it out, if only because the survivors of that total world-wide clusterfish are _not_ going to band together in any manner.

          1) Or Thanos shows up in a few months and destroys the place, it being the MCU and all.

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          • I’m just pointing out the war is not going to be ‘nuked and Wakanda dies’, it’s going to be much, much worse. It’s going to be WWIII. And a very horrible sort of WWIII where violent extremists, for a decade, keep mysteriously being armed with insanely powerful weapons before anyone figures out what the hell is going on…

            Depends on how realistic we want to take this, and how many Klaw-level super-villains are being created. 250 villains (50 per ship, which may be a scale Wakanda can’t manage either at all or very often) for 25 revolutionary movements creates a lot of 911 events and gets the world pissed and afraid.

            Every alphabet agency on the planet sends a team or ten of “investigators” to Wakanda to try to figure out what is happening. Either they get stopped (proving Wakanda is a major, but hidden, power), or they enter Wakanda and find out they’re a major power.

            That right there makes it very, very messy in less than a year. And this is without any other supers getting involved and accelerating the process.

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            • Either they get stopped (proving Wakanda is a major, but hidden, power), or they enter Wakanda and find out they’re a major power.

              And to figure that out, we sorta have to ask: How was Wakanda stopping that before? Because that doesn’t really make sense.

              The actual problem with the history of Wakanda is that such a history is plausible if they are completely isolated, with no easy entrances and no resources anyone wants.

              Like Bhutan. It only has diplomatic relations with 52 countries and the EU, and it’s not because it’s any sort of rogue state, it seems to be a rather normal constitutional monarchy, but simply because it doesn’t _care_ about anyone else…and no one cares about it. It is between India and China, but it is so inaccessible with mountains and deep river valleys that it can’t provide a military path for those nations to reach the other, so neither of them really care about it either.

              Anyway, the slight problem with the history of Wakanda, the thing that makes it different from Bhutan, is that Wakanda has mineral deposits of something that is literally the most valuable metal on the planet. (The comics have claimed $10,000 a gram, which makes it hundreds of times more valuable than gold.)

              And the world has known this since _at least_ the 40s, when the US managed to scrap together millions of dollars of vibranium to build Captain American’s shield. (We don’t know where they got it, but we’ve seen that misidentified vibranium is sometimes in museums.)

              The idea that the world has not sent in teams to overthrow this ‘backwards’ little nation is extremely hard to handwave…especially since Killmonger was just wandering around reminding us how the US did that all the time!

              The US government must feel pretty stupid ignoring Wakanda and not trying to invade it, when a single guy stole a few ‘tons’ of vibranium, worth, uh…ten trillion dollars a metric tonne. (Wow, that really does not make any economic sense.)

              The world can ignore the history that no colonizing European force else defeated Wakanda. All Wakanda would have to do is wipe out some armies, and the lack of communications and distance, and time itself, would basically result in everyone thinking Wakanda just got really lucky and had a lot of military skill.

              This doesn’t really work with _modern_ conquerers, though. It’s hard to see how Wakanda could even plausibly keep itself secret. At the very least, if not outright ‘overthrow the government’, the US would at least send in some ‘steal some vibranium’ teams.

              What exactly is going on here? Does Wakanda have some sort of mind control device? Are they, like, letting CIA teams infiltrate the entire country and hiding stuff _really good_?

              My theory, now that I have to think about this: The US sents special forces into Wakanda in the 1940s to try to destablize it. Wakanda special forces then decloaked inside the White House, stunned all the security, and say Do. Not. Mess. With. Us., and leave. So the US government technically knows about Wakanda’s true military strength, and it’s just classified way above Ross’s head. (Who was, after all, just sent out to buy vibarium from a third party, not mess with Wakanda.)

              …which actually means the governments of the world, if they do really know about Wakanda at the top levels, would actually figure out what’s going on pretty quick.

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              • And the world has known this since _at least_ the 40s, when the US managed to scrap together millions of dollars of vibranium to build Captain American’s shield. (We don’t know where they got it, but we’ve seen that misidentified vibranium is sometimes in museums.)

                The Comic book history of Cap’s shield is the Nazis killed the one(?) guy who had a clue about how to make the shield before the information was widespread. So in theory the world simply doesn’t know.

                The actual problem with the history of Wakanda is that such a history is plausible if they are completely isolated, with no easy entrances and no resources anyone wants.

                The thing about that “resource” is it can’t be sold to the world if this history is going to make any sense (not that it makes any sense). The real problem isn’t the external world, we can handwave that by saying “they don’t know”.

                The real problem is the internal world. You, a minimum wage worker in the Vibranium mine, routinely have in your hands hundreds of millions of dollars worth of minerals. Granted to take advantage of that you’d need to leave your people, flee the country with a rock or two, but someone would do that, and we’d end up with Vibranium available to the world.

                So something needs to convince ALL of the internal Wakandans (Wakandians?) that their spiritual/collective existence is worth all that money. 20+ years ago the king’s brother fell victim to that temptation but no one does as long as they’re inside Wakanda. So yes, mind control is clearly in play, presumably via the missing infinity stone, i.e. the Soul Stone.

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    • Killmongers plan can… kind of… make sense if you think of the world through a Marvel lens (and by Marvel I mean the Marvel roleplaying powers system which kind of underwrites the Marvel cosmology). Nerdout follows:
      Marvels’ power system operates in a kind of series of lanes of power classes and almost everything is divided into them. Lower power level classes are barely capable of impacting a power class more than one gradient or so above them. For instance if you have Colossus (power Class 15 or so) being attacked by a mob of fifty mutant haters with guns (power class 6 or so) none of that mob can so much as scratch Colossus since none of their individual power levels are capable of piercing the strength of his own level. Instead of fifty 6’s adding up to 300 and taking him down just imagine fifty individual 6 level bullets bouncing off skin.
      At the same time this works in reverse as well in that higher power level characters/entities etc. don’t really deign to notice people operating on a much lower power level lane than they occupy. That’s how in New York alone you can have the Silver Surfer fretting about the cosmic threat of Galactus, the Avengers pondering the transnational threat of Hydra, the Fantastic Four worrying about the national menace of Dr. Doom, Spiderman Worrying that Venom’s gonna kill the city, Daredevil worrying that Kingpin is going to take over Hells Kitchen and Jubilee worried that Pyro is going to attack the mall all without any of these folks screwing with each other’s affairs.

      So Killmongers presumption is that he can turn oppressed dissidents the world over into the equivalent of mass produced living tanks with Wakandan tech and topple the governments largely before the super-powered heroes really take notice or involve themselves in time. It’s still dubious- really it’s clunky, but if you think within the Marvel system it’s possible in a comic book kind of way.

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      • I’ve often wondered why supervillains stay in their own superhero lane. Why couldn’t, say, the Kingpin offer an inducement to Dr. Doom to take out Daredevil or the Red Skull pay the Mandarin to take out Captain America?

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        • Well In reality, of course, these were different comic books and such crossovers were uncommon events (though not uncommon any more). The Marvel system was a nod to that reality and tried to provide an in character reason why the comics didn’t bleed together more.

          The in character reason, so to speak, was that the higher power villains would generally consider the lower power heroes (and villains) entirely beneath their notice. In the event that a crossover did happen, usually the high power hero pursued the high power villain into the crossover!

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        • Old-time comics nerds will point out that the Red Skull couldn’t beat Captain America even when he had the freakin’ Cosmic Cube, which would ordinarily put him well above the Mandarin in the power rankings up there with Loki-class bad-assery. But Herr Skull had issues that limited his effectiveness. On a straight-up power comparison, I’d bet on the Mandarin over Cap, though I might take the points

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          • Oh for sure, but again there’s more to it than sheer power levels. Thanos acquired the infinity gauntlet and kicked asses through the Marvel upper cosmology up to about two steps shy of popping out of the paper and demanding a RL lawyer* but he lost everything because subconsciously he simply wanted to be beat. Mindset plays a major factor.

            *And again I tremble thinking about May. They’re going to try and translate that into a film? I shouldn’t fret. It’ll probably share virtually nothing in common with the comic and be amazing.

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    • A book or comic book can really explore who Killmonger considers an oppressed people. Isn’t limited to Blacks? Does it include different groups in Asia? Would Jews be an oppressed people? Women? LGBT people?

      Thinking about this some more, let’s say that Killmonger looks at Israel.

      Do you think he’ll be more likely to see it as a situation where he sees Israel standing up alone against the rest of the Middle East?

      Do you think he’ll be more likely to look at the Palestinians and say “yeah, those are the people who need these vibranium toys…”?

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      • Isreal and Palestinian isn’t the only situation like that, or even the worse. They’re just the one sorta currently in conflict that we hear a lot about.

        There are plenty of locations where one country has an X majority and a Y minority that they sorta oppress, and the country next door has a Y majority and X minority that they sorta oppress, because England drew some line on a map in a dumb place or something.

        What exactly is going to happen there? Arm Y in the first and X in the second? That’s a recipe for two simultaneous civil wars that quickly turn into a war between those two countries.

        Although note that Killmonger is apparently looking at entirely through the lens of race, which is a reasonable POV from someone from America, but really stupid when you look at, oh, Africa, where all sides in a combat are going to be black (Duh)…and often the worst side has the least association with the rest of the world.

        The kidnappers at the start of the movie were stated to be, IIRC, modeled after Boko Haram, aka, the Islamic State in West Africa. (Although toned down a bit…Boka Haram kidnapped female _schoolchildren_. That would have made ‘We’ll leave them to fend for themselves’ feel a bit different.)

        While all sides in that conflict are, obviously, almost entirely black, if any white people are on the field of battle there, it’s American or other Western advisers, fighting Boko Haram. Boko Haram is, in the technical sense, a violent revolutionary group attempting to overthrow the government of a bunch of US allies. A bunch of governments that bow down to the Western world.

        If you look at that conflict _purely_ through the prism of race/colonialism/anti-Americanism, it is easy to see white outsiders who show up and meddle in a country’s internal politics…you know, exactly what Killmonger raged against, and exactly what he was going to flip around and use himself.

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  6. The new Death Wish just seems gratuitous and feeds into a lot of negative and bad false beliefs like crime is on the rise when it is on the decrease or that the world is a dangerous place and people need to take justice into their own hand. At least crime really was a big issue when the original Death Wish was released. That still made it a right-wing hack of a movie but at least one semi-grounded in reality. The new Death Wish not so much.

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  7. I kind of agree with you, Jay, on the writers thumbs being on the scale but I also kind of disagree with you.
    On the agreement level, absolutely, the thumbs are visible on the narrative scale. Killmonger is a misogynist* and a brute in ways that function mostly independent of his argument. Burning the heart shaped herb, shooting his girlfriend and being scathingly disdainful of the Wakandan women and their points of view are all pretty strong thumb presses on the scale. One could remove those elements without touching on Killmongers’ core argument so their inclusion definitely represented thumbs being put onto the scale.

    At the same time, however, the Killmonger position was very different from the Nakia position and the film was emphatically correct in identifying them as separate. Nakia and Killmonger (and in a milder manner W’Kabi) were all the same family of argument. Nakia advocating productive peaceful engagement while Killmonger and W’Kabi advocated engagement through violence and conquest. T’Challa, representing the Wakandan conservative status quos, started out advocating continuing isolation but, by the end of the film, came around to reject that traditionalist position and join with Nakia (though it’s implied by omission that it was a more light touch Nakia version leavened with more traditional arm’s length isolationism. They didn’t show the Wakandans airlifting Compton residents to Wakanda after all.) The narrative at this level was more a continuation of the debate between MLK and Malcolm X and I think it was a very interesting and strong representation on that level. I’m not even going to touch on the other psychological dimension where Killmonger is basically representing the primal wounded scream both of an individual and of a culture riven and haunted by the violence of historic atrocities.

    I wasn’t enraptured by BP but I am not sure if I was supposed to be since it was, in a unique way, not directly at me. I don’t think one need fret about rotten tomatoes ratings; money talks and BP has raked in a LOT of money so far, putting it way up there in the pantheon of the MCU itself and in super hero movies in general. There’s no ambiguity that this was a wildly successful movie both financially and even artistically (though I recognize I am daring Saul’s wrath by including that descriptor).

    There are a lot of mid-level quibbles one can have with BP and I’ve quibbled them but they are a function of the practical needs of the genre and the film as an economic entity. On the granular level (tone, feel, sound, style, look) Black Panther is unusual and refreshing; on the overarching level Black Panther has some strong ideological points that are both interesting, deep and profound. It’s an astonishing achievement and yet another feather in the success laden cap of the MCU. As a Marvel fan boy I’m delighted. I do, however, feel my blood pressure mount when I consider that the next film up on deck is the beginning of the Infinity War which is the culmination of the entire MCU thus far. How will it stand up to this new bar? I fear a shark may be being positioned to jump (here’s hoping I am wrong).

    *The misogyny, however, has a slightly special note to it in that, as was noted by several of my, it was very specifically worded and coded in a way that nods towards a manner and attitude that exists commonly among men within black African American communities. I’m not qualified to discuss it myself but I gather that for black women especially the manner of Killmongers misogyny was somewhat specific and represented a kind of internal point for that community that black women found very pertinent.

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    • I felt (and feel) like the argument that Nakia was right would have benefited from more than just her winning because she was allied with the best fighters.

      Which, ironically, does more to help Killmonger’s point than harm it.

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      • In that Nakia and Killmongers arguments were both from the same family that is true but that says very little. On the “Should Wakanda remain isolated from the world?” Question Nakia and Killmonger both answered no. That doesn’t make Killmonger right.

        The question was “Should Wakanda remain in splendid isolation.”
        Killmonger answered “No, Wakanda should go forth, kill and conquer.”
        Nakia answered “No, Wakanda should go forth, aid and partner.”
        One can accurately observe that Killmonger and Nakia are both saying no AND also acknowledge that their answers are very different.

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      • There was a reason why Nakia’s side of the argument had the better fighters in the end than Killmonger’s that’s directly related to the argument though. Nakia and T’Challa successfully build a winning coalition together from some unlikely sources to overcome Killmonger’s side in the end.

        – T’Challa builds a relationship with a CIA agent who becomes one of the tiny few who stand with him at his weakest moments.
        – M’Baku of the Gorillia tribe comes to respect T’Challa in way they didn’t respect previous Wakandan kings and support him in contrast their own previous splendid isolation.
        – Okoye, who is primarily a Wakandan traditionalist, abandon’s Killmonger’s putative kingship at the first respectable opportunity.

        A policy of productive engagement meant that when the chips were down, one side could find new allies, while the nihilistic violence side ended up weakened by alienation despite holding the normal levers of power.

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        • I think the real question we need to ask is if the Wakandan political establishment helped throw the election to T’Challa by corralling the super-delegates and rigging the trial-by-combat, instead of helping the guy who didn’t even declare as a Wakandan until he ran for king.

          Wait, I got confused somewhere, nevermind.

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        • A policy of productive engagement meant that when the chips were down, one side could find new allies, while the nihilistic violence side ended up weakened by alienation despite holding the normal levers of power.

          You know what? I’ll buy it.

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  8. But they never really addressed Killmonger’s moral argument. They waved it away by pointing out that it was made by a bad, bad person.

    I’m not following this. What did you think Killmonger’s moral argument was?

    Once you disconnect the moral argument he was making from the _plan_ he had made (Which was insanely violent and world-conquering), the moral argument was basically ‘Wakanda should not have sat on the sidelines all this time, and should not sit on the sidelines now.’.

    Which is…what they decided at the end of the movie. Well, the second part, at least…the history of Wakanka obviously isn’t the fault of anyone alive.

    Is your problem that they just said ‘We will change what we are doing.’ and didn’t reflect enough on the fact that their previous inaction was a moral failure?

    I’m not really sure how deep we can dive into the moral culpability of the inaction of dead _fictional_ people. I mean, we’ve done that with long-dead real people, for example in the US the inaction, and even complicity, of our founding fathers in the institution of slavery. We can talk about that in a serious manner, trying to figure out exactly what their thought, how they were shaped by their environment, compare their actions to their words, etc…

    …but I have no idea what the point of doing that in a fictional setting is. If someone wants to write prequels where we see Wakanda’s origins and interaction with outsiders and why they were the way they were, or prequels where Wakandan leaders consider changing things but decide against it, well, that might interesting. But we’re ‘now’, in the present of the MCU, so I don’t think we need some sort of scholarly explanation of how What-His-Name, first leader of Wakanda, decided to cut off contact from the outside world due to blah blah blah.

    Moreover, Wakanda _just_ decided it would do this. Some sort of story where it looks back and reflects on the fact that it could have been some sort of moral leader in the world, and saved the African people a lot of pain, would require the nation to get to a point where it completely accepted it had made a mistake, but this movie ends (Barring the credits scenes.) like two minutes after it decides it will go in a new direction. There has to be some time for it to reflect on history, for Wakandans to truly realize what they left the world to, and how they could have done differently, before they can have some sort of national moral reckoning.

    In the real world, societies need to confront their part morality or lack thereof. They need retrospection so they, or others, will not fail in the same way. In fiction…that’s kinda boring and stupid. We just let them _fix_ their problems, and move on, because, duh, they are not real, and they will fall back into immortality if, and only if, the writers say so.

    the end of the movie shows Wakanda engaging in reaching out to the outside world. It doesn’t show Wakanda taking in refugees.

    The end of the movie does not show Wakanda ‘engaging in reaching out’. The end of the movie (actually, after the movie) shows Wakanka literally announcing they would reach out, and then having a bookend scene at the exact apartment from earlier in the movie as one of the places that outreach will happen.

    The movie ends before we see a single instance of actual outreach.

    I say that not to imply they won’t follow through, but to ask: How have you managed to figure out what forms that outreach will take, and that it will exclude taking in refugees? Because what they are going do is not stated in the movie (Except for some consulates which they are deliberately building in poor black areas to provide jobs.), and as taking in refugees was explicitly suggested by Nakia, someone close to T’Challa and on the right side of the civil war, and because Wakanda clearly has space, it seems an odd conclusion to reach that it won’t happen.

    I suspect that minutes after his announcement at the UN, robots started setting up housing in all those pretend shepherd pastures and hillsides. Or that a video of that already in progress was T’Challa’s visual aid.

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    • What did you think Killmonger’s moral argument was?

      That it was wrong to stand idly by when they had the power to arm the oppressed and help them fight against their oppressors.

      That this whole colonialism thing should have been fought against, violently, rather than nicely reached out to.

      Here’s a fun essay. Money grafs:

      There have been media takes discussing how Black Panther protagonist T’Challa sends a bleak message to black viewers by killing his rival. The message, some critics say, is that black liberation is only a dream, and only obedient, peaceful folks can expect tolerance and survival. In this reading of the film, that makes T’Challa the enemy. And Chadwick Boseman, the actor who plays T’Challa, agrees.

      “I actually am the enemy,” he says during a discussion with castmate Lupita Nyong’o and Marvel comics writer and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates at Harlem’s Apollo Theater on Tuesday. (The comments were transcribed and reported by The Atlantic and Rolling Stone.) “It’s the enemy I’ve always known. It’s power. It’s having privilege.” He characterizes T’Challa as “born with a vibranium spoon in my mouth.”

      Is your problem that they just said ‘We will change what we are doing.’ and didn’t reflect enough on the fact that their previous inaction was a moral failure?

      Not really that. It’s more that the only person who felt that moral failure firsthand was treated poorly by the movie. They put their thumb on him.

      How have you managed to figure out what forms that outreach will take, and that it will exclude taking in refugees?

      I’m digging for quotations. Here’s the speech given at the UN at the end of the movie:

      My name is King T’Challa. Son of King T’Chaka. I am the sovereign ruler of the Nation of Wakanda. And for the first time in our history, we will be sharing our knowledge and resources with the outside world. Wakanda will no longer watch from the shadows. We cannot. We must not. We will work to be an example of how we as brothers and sisters on this Earth should treat each other. Now more than ever… the illusions of division threaten our very existence. We all know the truth. More connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis, the wise build bridges while foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe.

      There was also the scene in Oakland:

      Shuri: When you said you’d bring me to California when I was a kid, I thought you meant Coachella, or Disneyland. Where are we?

      T’Challa: This is the building where our uncle lived, where our father killed him.

      Shuri: [sees a condemnation notice] They’re tearing it down. Good.

      T’Challa: They are not tearing it down, not anymore. I bought the building. And that one… and that one.

      I can’t find the quotation where Nakia talks about taking in refugees and, embarrassingly, I cannot remember it.

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      • I’m digging for quotations.

        I don’t understand how you can quote a speech that ends with ‘But in times of crisis, the wise build bridges while foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe.’ as somehow indicating a _lack_ of taking in refugees.

        I can’t find the quotation where Nakia talks about taking in refugees and, embarrassingly, I cannot remember it.

        It’s near the very start, when she is pulled out from that truck of women, and she basically says ‘We should save these women’, and then slightly later in Wakanda she makes the argument about refugees in general, clearly thinking about those women, and the counter-point is made that they will contaminate Wakanda. (Although I think a better point is that keeping their secret would have become much harder!)

        That’s basically the only mention in the movie _of_ Wakanda taking in refugees that I remember, so I’m confused as why you’re talking about refugees if you don’t remember her saying Wakanda should take them in.

        Not really that. It’s more that the only person who felt that moral failure firsthand was treated poorly by the movie. They put their thumb on him.

        I’m kinda confused as to how the plot could work otherwise, or what an alternative would have been. To do anything else would be to require some other harmed character to be anywhere near Wakanda and to be treated better. I’m not really sure how that would have worked.

        I guess technically _Ross_ could have been black (Or, rather, another character), but Ross represented the Western world and making him black probably would have confused the issue.

        Or Killmonger could have not killed his girlfriend and taken her with him, but I think the writers were making a very specific point there.

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        • I don’t understand how you can quote a speech that ends with ‘But in times of crisis, the wise build bridges while foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe.’ as somehow indicating a _lack_ of taking in refugees.

          I’m saying that this is entirely consistent with technology exchanges and the purchasing of buildings in Oakland without the acceptance of refugees.

          “But it *MIGHT* include refugees!” is, I suppose, a good argument but it’s not so good that it can’t be refuted by “it might not”.

          It’s near the very start, when she is pulled out from that truck of women, and she basically says ‘We should save these women’, and then slightly later in Wakanda she makes the argument about refugees in general, clearly thinking about those women, and the counter-point is made that they will contaminate Wakanda.

          “We should save these women” could be covered by something like “let’s kill all of the bad guys except for the youngest one and then let them go home to their own village”.

          I don’t remember the argument she made about refugees in general. I can’t find any relevant quotations.

          The only speech that I can find that explicitly talks about refugees is W’Kabi’s speech in which he explicitly says that refugees will bring their problems with them and then Wakanda will be like everywhere else.

          I’m kinda confused as to how the plot could work otherwise, or what an alternative would have been.

          Well, they could have told a story that didn’t involve thumbs on the scale.

          Like, dig this, imagine if the M’Baku (the mountain tribe guy) had responded to T’Challa’s request with “If *I* had beaten you in combat, would you be talking to the other tribes now to take ‘your’ throne back from me?” before helping him.
          Would the plot have allowed for that?

          I think it would have.

          I also think it would have handled *NOT* killing Killmonger. Hell, forcing him to stay alive and in custody. “For his own good”, of course. Surely he’d make a great ally someday, after he understood the what Nakia’s argument really meant for the world.

          Or Killmonger could have not killed his girlfriend and taken her with him, but I think the writers were making a very specific point there.

          Yeah. The writers were making a lot of very, very specific points with the scenes they wrote.

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          • I also think it would have handled *NOT* killing Killmonger. Hell, forcing him to stay alive and in custody. “For his own good”, of course. Surely he’d make a great ally someday, after he understood the what Nakia’s argument really meant for the world.

            Killmonger crossed the moral event horizon when he burned those flowers… right after what should have been a spiritual awakening.

            There isn’t going to be another Black Panther after him, not even his own future son. To hell with for the good of “Wakanda”, or the good of “Africa”, or even the good of the world. EVERYONE was part of the problem, he was going to burn down the entire world.

            Killmonger joined the army to learn how to kill people. Then he killed people to learn how to kill other people. Then he killed people so he could become King of Wakanda… and was going to use that action to kill lots more.

            Killing his girlfriend wasn’t a “new” thing for him, it wasn’t any sort of character evolution or change and wasn’t done out of desperation. It just showed the audience on camera what he’d been doing off camera.

            His dead father looked at him and cried. That was a big clue on what was going to happen.

            ———————
            “You will destroy the world, Wakanda included!”
            “The world took everything away from me! Everything I ever loved! But I’ma make sure we’re even. …
            ?Black Panther and Erik Killmonger[src]

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          • I’m saying that this is entirely consistent with technology exchanges and the purchasing of buildings in Oakland without the acceptance of refugees.

            He didn’t say ‘We are no longer hiding ourselves so we can make a difference’, he said, specifically, that there was a ‘time of crisis’ going on.

            Wakanda was not in a crisis at that moment, so what was he talking about? Clearly, it’s the world in crisis, and Wakanda is building a bridge to the world instead of walling itself off from that crisis.

            Now, I guess it’s hypothetically possible he sees the general poverty of black people in a country on the other side of the world as a ‘crisis’, and black women one country over being kidnapped and carted around in trucks _not_ as a ‘crisis’…but that’s a pretty weird worldview.

            I mean, it’s a normal worldview for America, but it’s a pretty damn weird one for Wakanda.

            “But it *MIGHT* include refugees!” is, I suppose, a good argument but it’s not so good that it can’t be refuted by “it might not”.

            I have a feeling you missed half of the discussion about refugees, but more importantly, your claim was not that they ‘might’ not have accepted refugees, but they _didn’t_ accept them. You made the claim they didn’t, not ‘they might not have’.

            You seem to think this because of a single line of dialog that you seem to have heard without the lines leading up to it, in a position that the person that held it seems to have abandoned by the end of the movie. A person, it must be mentioned, took the _wrong side_ of the civil war, even if he surrendered at the end. He might be forgiven, but I have a feeling he’s not exactly in a position to dictate policy for a bit.

            Meanwhile, you have failed to notice the person who suggested taking in refugees to start with. You know, T’Challa’s love interest? Probably the person he listens to more than anyone else, or maybe right after actual family members? (Neither of whom seem to have an opinion on refugees.)

            “We should save these women” could be covered by something like “let’s kill all of the bad guys except for the youngest one and then let them go home to their own village”.

            That is exactly what the _other_ Wakandans in that scene said. Nakia said something like ‘Wakanda should save these women.’, and her rescuers were all ‘We killed the bad guys for them, what more do they want?’ and Nakia was forced to leave the women there.

            And then later she says ‘Wakanda should take in refugees.’, which was about as clear a connection to the people she wanted to help earlier as it was possible without her explicitly stating it. In fact, I’m not sure she didn’t explicitly mention those women.

            The only speech that I can find that explicitly talks about refugees is W’Kabi’s speech in which he explicitly says that refugees will bring their problems with them and then Wakanda will be like everywhere else.

            Yes, which was in response to Nakia suggesting they take in refugees when talking about Wakanda needs to do more.

            Why would W’Kabi just randomly mention not bringing in refugees that he doesn’t want to take in? What sort of weird discussion is that?

            Hell, according to various quote sites on the internet, his line was literally ‘You let the refugees in, you let in all their problems.’

            While I sadly can’t find the context for that line, who would say that _randomly_ instead of in response to someone saying ‘We should take in some refugees.’?

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            • I have a feeling you missed half of the discussion about refugees, but more importantly, your claim was not that they ‘might’ not have accepted refugees, but they _didn’t_ accept them. You made the claim they didn’t, not ‘they might not have’.

              How’s this? Everything we saw them do did not involve them accepting refugees. They gave speeches, they bought buildings, and they started showing off their tech.

              Perhaps the movie did not have the budget to show refugees being accepted.

              And then later she says ‘Wakanda should take in refugees.’, which was about as clear a connection to the people she wanted to help earlier as it was possible without her explicitly stating it. In fact, I’m not sure she didn’t explicitly mention those women.

              I’m not entirely sure of that. If I were kidnapped and taken to Wyoming, I’m not sure that “let him be a refugee in Montana!” would be a good solution for me.

              I’d want to go home to Colorado. So, too, the women in the truck.

              Yes, which was in response to Nakia suggesting they take in refugees when talking about Wakanda needs to do more.

              Sure, but I can’t find that speech. From what I remember of the speech, she said something like “we need to do more”. I think she said something about opening their borders? I don’t really remember.

              Why would W’Kabi just randomly mention not bringing in refugees that he doesn’t want to take in? What sort of weird discussion is that?

              “Nakia says we should open our borders.” (Heck, perhaps even “open our borders to refugees”.)
              “We allow refugees, they bring their problems with them. Then Wakanda is like anywhere else.”

              That’s not that outlandish a conversation.

              Heck, I guess we’ll see what happens in the next movie. I understand that the Asgardians need a place to live.

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              • And thinking about this some more, it’s kind of… facile? To have Wakanda take in refugees from Syria or something.

                It’d be like a movie in the 1980’s ending with scientists discovering a cure for HIV/AIDS. “You think you’re helping, but you’re not.”

                But taking in Asgardians? I could see Wakanda taking in Asgardians.

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              • Everything we saw them do did not involve them accepting refugees. They gave speeches, they bought buildings, and they started showing off their tech.

                And none of that was what anyone in the movie was arguing for.

                There was a speech given at the UN, which was the end of the movie proper, and a lot of stuff was said in that speech. I assume there were some visual aids or Shuri flying in on a hoverbike to prove the new Wakandan King wasn’t a lunatic. I feel we’re supposed to assume that speech announced what Wakanda’s new direction was.

                And I think the most logical interpretation was that future direction was what the ‘non-world-conquering interventionists’ were arguing for the entire movie.

                Basically, the Crown’s previous position (isolationist) lost, W’Kabi’s position (enforcing order) lost (and it is indeed reasonable to argue there was a thumb on the scales there to introduce a crazy villain trying an extreme version of that, but whatever.) and Nakia’s position (helping the world) won.

                It seems very strange to claim that the movie was various competing views of the future of Wakanda, and in the end Wakanda picked…urban development. That’s the future path of Wakanda, real estate! (OMG, Donald Trump was represented in this movie after all!)

                That’s not what ‘Wakanda decided to do’. That’s the movie just showing us a loose end. They chose to show us one single thing that Wakanda is doing among a bunch of other things. Other things they are doing presumably include one of the _only_ explicit thing the ‘help the world’ side suggested, taking in refugees. (Well, she also suggested foreign aid, but I’m not sure how that is supposed to work, or if the Oakland thing is supposed to be that.)

                Seriously, the movie is between three competing ideologies, and the king has pretty much already started to reject the current one, so the choice is between the remaining two of them, and Nakia is the mouthpiece for the side that wins. Of _course_ they’re doing what she suggested afterward, that is literally the entire premise of the conflict of the movie, if they should do what Nakia’s side says, or if they should do what Killmonger/W’Kabi says.

                On top of that…countries have a legal obligation to take in refugees under the 1951 Refugee Convention. Now, Wakanda has possibly not signed that yet, but the problem of refugees is not something first-world countries (And Wakanda probably qualifies in the new category of zeroth-world countries) can just get away with not agreeing to while still working with the rest of the world.

                Wakanda would be facing absurd levels of criticism already for their failure to take in refugees in the past based on lies(I find myself wondering if they ever officially lied or just refused to release any information, leaving people to mis-observe them.), and all sorts of backlash if they don’t start taking them in immediately, especially from their neighbors.

                Seriously, even if refugees had not been mentioned in the movie at all, Wakanda outing itself would result in (for example) me eventually realizing, on the way to the fridge, that ‘Oh, they’re going to have to start accepting refugees. That’s going to be interesting for such a previously insular society.’.

                Of course, Wakanda could ignore that backlash, they don’t actually need anything from the world anyway, and can give the world help while the world screams at them…although setting up embassies might be tough. But that’s a weird direction for the movie to go, and it’s weird to assume it happened without implicitly being shown it.

                I’m not entirely sure of that. If I were kidnapped and taken to Wyoming, I’m not sure that “let him be a refugee in Montana!” would be a good solution for me.

                I’d want to go home to Colorado. So, too, the women in the truck.

                Erm, not if Colorado had roving bands of kidnappers who regularly kidnapped truckloads of Jaybirds to Wyoming.

                It is entirely possible those women have somewhere safe to go…but, well, they got kidnapped _somehow_. They might have made some really bad travel choices, but they were probably they were kidnapped from their homes.

                That’s not that outlandish a conversation.

                …why do you keep inventing what _could_ have been said in the movie?

                Look, I don’t have quotes. But this discussion, which you seem to think didn’t include Nakia, did in fact include her, and she specifically said they should bring in refugees, prompting that response from W’Kabi, that refugees would bring in problems.

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                • There was a speech given at the UN, which was the end of the movie proper, and a lot of stuff was said in that speech.

                  I’ve got the quotes for that. Wanna read it again? We can argue over whether it explicitly mentions refugees or not.

                  Here. Let me copy and paste it again:

                  My name is King T’Challa. Son of King T’Chaka. I am the sovereign ruler of the Nation of Wakanda. And for the first time in our history, we will be sharing our knowledge and resources with the outside world. Wakanda will no longer watch from the shadows. We cannot. We must not. We will work to be an example of how we as brothers and sisters on this Earth should treat each other. Now more than ever… the illusions of division threaten our very existence. We all know the truth. More connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis, the wise build bridges while foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe.

                  You can say “well this *OBVIOUSLY* implies that they’ll be taking in refugees!” and I can say “this obviously implies that they’ll be doing technology exchanges and buying outreach buildings in Oakland so that Oaklanders don’t end up trying to take refuge in Wakanda like the last Oaklander did.”

                  It seems very strange to claim that the movie was various competing views of the future of Wakanda, and in the end Wakanda picked…urban development.

                  Take care of them over there so you don’t have to take care of them over here.

                  That’s not what ‘Wakanda decided to do’. That’s the movie just showing us a loose end. They chose to show us one single thing that Wakanda is doing among a bunch of other things.

                  We agree that the writers have agency over what they put on the scale.

                  I’m saying that this trivially true statement reveals much about what we can assume happened.

                  It is entirely possible those women have somewhere safe to go…but, well, they got kidnapped _somehow_. They might have made some really bad travel choices, but they were probably they were kidnapped from their homes.

                  What happened to them in the movie, again? I’m pretty sure that they got sent back home and told to not talk about this.

                  …why do you keep inventing what _could_ have been said in the movie?

                  Because pointing at what *WAS* said in the movie was insufficient to argue against what was implied by what was said.

                  So we’re stuck arguing over emanations from penumbras.

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                  • Did you notice this line: But in times of crisis, the wise build bridges while foolish build barriers.

                    What crisis, exactly, is going on in Wakanda? Or Oakland?

                    Clearly, they’re planning on intervening in a place with an actual crisis, like armed terrorist militias running around kidnapping people. I’m sure those places could use some real estate development also…or perhaps we could assume that something else is happening there. (And while that something else could, in theory, just be foreign aid, let’s note that foreign aid wasn’t mentioned in the Oakland scene either, so your premise that ‘What they explicitly said in Oakland is all they are doing’ still falls apart.)

                    Also, did you notice the prior lines: Now more than ever… the illusions of division threaten our very existence. We all know the truth. More connects us than separates us.

                    It sounds like they are talking about removing divisions.

                    And the line after that sentence: We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe.

                    Weirdly, tribes tend to not make people they are looking after ‘as if they were a single tribe’ live outside some random borders, or, instead of borders, let’s call them ‘divisions’…hey, didn’t they just say they were getting rid of those?

                    We agree that the writers have agency over what they put on the scale.

                    And…they put their example in a credit scene that isn’t even part of the movie proper, and is traditionally used _only_ for tying up loose ends, often loose ends not even from the same movie (re: the other credit scene), or setting up future lose ends for other movies. (Or, rarely, punchlines to jokes.)

                    They felt ‘what is going to happen to that specific community’ was a loose end worth of addressing in a scene. They felt the rest of what Wakanda was doing was not. (This raises the question of what, exactly, people who walked out of the theater at the start of the credits of the movie are supposed to think? That Wakanda is just…giving speeches?)

                    Whereas I feel pretty sure it’s because ‘can we help low-income minority communities?’ _wasn’t addressed_ in the rest of the movie (In fact, no one really mentioned them at all.), whereas everything else Wakanda ‘should be doing’ was pretty explicitly stated in start of the movie and there literally was a civil war fought over it and one side came out the victor, and it’s inane for movie wars to happen over things and then the people in charge to say ‘Nah, we’re not going to do that thing after all.’.

                    I mean, yes, that is reasonable in theory, and can happen in real life…often people demand changes that can’t really be done. So T’Challa, after a long and hard period thinking about it, could decide that Nakia’s position was not feasible, to pull back and restrict Wakanda’s help to the outside world to handing out aid in some manner, and instead he takes take a mid-way ‘helpful to the world but still population isolationist’ position…sure, that could happen, but it is completely absurd for such a decision to be presented in the fricking credit scene (So some portion of the audience literally wouldn’t even see it.) and not be clearly explained.

                    But, again, as you have stated at the start of this, you apparently don’t remember Nakia’s position at all or the discussion everyone had about all this before Killmonger showed up, except that one guy didn’t like the idea of refugees. So _you’re_ thinking the movie has to actively show them doing something, whereas I am approaching this from the position of ‘The victors of the war clearly stated their positions beforehand, and I am assuming they followed through on them after winning, and if the movie wants us to think they did not do that, the movie had a duty to clearly state their change.’

                    I don’t know how to bridge that gap except to ask you to go watch the movie again, and pay attention to the beginning.

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                    • Clearly

                      Personally, I think it’s obvious that they won’t and they’re going to make up for their deficiencies by doing tech “exchanges” and community outreach.

                      (In fact, no one really mentioned them at all.)

                      Clearly, Killmonger did.

                      you apparently don’t remember Nakia’s position at all or the discussion everyone had about all this before Killmonger showed up, except that one guy didn’t like the idea of refugees

                      For some reason, the writers chose to give “that one guy” a line memorable enough that it made it into the IMDB quotes page (and, interestingly, into *DOZENS* of essays about the movie).

                      I still can’t find Nakia’s line.

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                • Wakanda is tiny. Accepting refugees to some percentage of the population means they’re basically accepting close to no one, accepting more means the refugees swamp the existing natives.

                  I assume the issue is handwaved. Mountain ranges prevent easy access or something.

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                  • Wakanda is tiny. Accepting refugees to some percentage of the population means they’re basically accepting close to no one, accepting more means the refugees swamp the existing natives.

                    I don’t think we really know anything about Wakanda’s size or population. The only ‘facts’ we get about Wakanda are from the outside world and incorrect, and I don’t remember them even mentioning a population number.

                    Of what we see of it, they’re clearly misleading the world about their population, as they have hidden at least one major city. Wakanda basically looks empty when we see the establishing shot. We see some shepherds, and I think that’s it.

                    Even if they don’t have enough housing, it does seem like they have enough space to build more housing, and can do that in like a week.

                    I find myself wondering if Wakanda is going to do the ‘wrong thing’ with refugees: Build a separate place to house them, instead of trying to integrate them. I can see them throwing up a few new cities and putting the refugees there. It would certainly be easier, both culturally and security-wise, to segregate them off to the side, and Wakanda literally has no history of integrating outsiders. (In fact, the previous king seemed to think they couldn’t integrate _one_ outsider.)

                    We are getting a Black Panther 2 and I think 3 also, though, so maybe that will be addressed.

                    (I also wonder if the Asgardians will end up there, in which case they might actually _want_ to be segregated.)

                    I assume the issue is handwaved. Mountain ranges prevent easy access or something.

                    They already said Wakanda is basically surrounded by mountains. And it presumably has no (known) airports.

                    Although it must have some ocean or river access because there is a ‘port city’, where they presumably ship out some small quality of ‘textiles’, and in exchange they purchase…who knows, whatever a third-world country could reasonably be buying. Bicycles and stuff. (I am imagining the entire port city basically as Disneyland where people take underground mag-lev trains in, put on costumes and make-up, go up the surface, and wander around the port city playing specific roles so sailors see them.)

                    Anyway, the lack of accessible borders, and the lack of any airport to fly into, (And the presumed non-economy.) explains why asylum seekers do not already go to it, but doesn’t really remove Wakanda’s duty as a member of the international community to accept refugees via the UN’s pre-clearance system, especially after it become clear that not only can they feed and shelter them, but could fricking airlift them from anywhere in the world in like an hour.

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                    • I don’t think we really know anything about Wakanda’s size or population.

                      If you mean “nothing specific” then yes. If you mean “there’s narrative room for them to be larger than the United States (or even Cuba)” then I disagree strongly.

                      They’re a hidden hermit kingdom, small enough in population that being ruled by a king is workable. Small enough that they can think 5 ships full of arms is a significant effort. Small enough in land that the rest of the world can overlook them.

                      Their once-a-lifetime coronation event was attended by dozens, maybe into the low hundreds. Their civil war involved dozens of warriors, maybe again into the low hundreds. The clip we see of Wakanda defending themselves against Thanos shows thousands, and is presumably a “send everyone” move.

                      So NY City has more police than Wakanda has soldiers, Cuba not only has more doctors but might also have more dentists.

                      We are getting a Black Panther 2 and I think 3 also, though, so maybe that will be addressed.

                      Now that is good news.

                      (I also wonder if the Asgardians will end up there, in which case they might actually _want_ to be segregated.)

                      The Asgardians would be interesting. They’re not as intrinsically superior to humans as the Kryptonians, but they’re up there. Thor is mostly Asgardian-on-steroids if we ignore the hammer and magic.

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                • …I’m not sure there is a refugee crisis in the Marvel Universe. Supers being involved in conflicts may make them brutal and short.

                  Does the Syrian gov even get all anti-humanitarian if it thinks going down that path leads to Thor “doing something”?

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                  • Completely coincidentally, I am about 2/3rd the way through Jessica Jones, and almost completely unrelated to the plot itself, we got a glimpse of a cable news broadcast about the civil war in Syria. So there is fighting there.

                    Granted, I’m not exactly sure when JJ season 2 is supposed to be in the MCU, hell, I’m confused about when ‘now’ is in the MCU, but the season has mentioned containing super-powered people on ‘The Raft’, the ocean prison seen in Captain America: Civil War, so I think logically it has to be after that because people didn’t know about that place before.

                    And, from the other side, I’m not sure the MCU has a lot of superheroes that run around interfering in wars anyway.

                    Captain America might, but he’s just one guy, even if a super-powered one. You throw him into actual combat, he might be the equivalent of ten or twenty guys, but he’s not magically ending the war.

                    Of the people with power levels that would make a huge difference… Thor isn’t on the planet (And when on the planet he’s either dealt only with his stuff or with Hydra.), Hulk is not here either (And only an idiot would use Hulk in a war unless they had other people who could contain him), Dr. Strange isn’t known to the public, Dr. Pym won’t let the Ant-Man tech be used in war and it looks like Scott is under arrest after the Civil War thingy anyway.

                    Iron Man is really the only one who springs to mind, and he’s halfway retired at this point, depending on the movie. I suspect he sometimes drops out the sky and kills terrorists, but most wars are a bit too complicated to do that.

                    And I think the Sokovia Accords would stop him from doing that without the permission of the UN anyway.

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                    • …Iron Man is really the only one who springs to mind…

                      Vision. Abomination (at least overseas, yes, someone would try it). War Machine if he can do anything without Iron Man. The various alien techs Shield has squirreled away would be put to use. The US Gov would be mass producing War Machine unless only armor made by Tony works (I like that mechanic a great deal).

                      The real problem is we’re running into the whole “realistic but relatable to our own world” thing. The Marvel Verse needs a civil war in Syria but if supers get involved (and they would) then things instantly change a lot. It’s the whole “why doesn’t Reed Richards cure cancer” thing.

                      I like the “Wearing the Cape” series because they’re willing to face this issue and say “yep, the world is different”. The Army has lots of supers in it’s ranks, so do terrorists. Supers got involved in Communist China and as a result China is like 8 different independent countries nowadays. All governments have to decide what to do with/about Supers and there are real world consequences.

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  9. On DeathWish, the Second.

    “There are either arguments that you agree with or arguments that you disagree with but none that you can really wrestle with. There are too many thumbs on too many scales for anything but having your priors confirmed (one way or the other).”

    I’m curious, do you really think it confirms Conservative* priors or that it confirms Liberal Priors about Conservatives.

    I guess I’m wondering because if you put so called conservative thumbs, fingers and feet on the scale… why wouldn’t that view make one think, “huh, maybe there’s a point here, once you scrape away the brain juice.” Unless those aren’t really where conservatives would put the body parts.

    Obviously I haven’t seen it, and I kinda doubt pace Mancow its a “conservative” movie… but if it really is… hey, baby steps.

    * even if we just ignore what we mean by conservative.

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    • I’m curious, do you really think it confirms Conservative* priors or that it confirms Liberal Priors about Conservatives.

      It’s not a particularly subtle movie. I didn’t pick up that it was operating on a particularly meta- level or anything like that.

      It felt like the movie was pure object level. It showed you Bruce Willis, it showed you victims, it showed Bruce Willis shooting the victimizers, and there was plenty of elbow room for those inclined to say something like “play stupid games, win stupid prizes”.

      I imagine that liberals could watch that movie with horror thinking “this is how conservatives really think!”

      And if there’s any meta- at all, it’s in enjoying imagining how other people would respond to the good old ultra-v happening on the screen and enjoying how one’s priors about those people are confirmed by it.

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  10. A few thoughts on BP (I’ll be waiting for Death Wish to be on Netflix or something before I watch it, which I will, very eventually, because, among other things, Bruce Willis):

    1) I abso-fracking-lutely loved it, start to finish.

    2) I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Killmonger was right, but I do agree with the equally popular claim that the movie could also have been called Black Panther: The Tragedy of Killmonger …. haven’t read that article yet but the argument was in the zeitgeist enough that I had the gist before I even saw the movie although I was trying to avoid spoilers… and yeah. That’s a very good take. Also and relatedly, I’m very familiar with stories that are overlaid with Biblical patterns and allusions without being direct allegories, both from my own cultural upbringing and from the tiny bit of studying of womanist theology I’ve done – and it’s obvious to me that Killmonger is in some sense a Moses figure (while Nakia is a bit of a Miriam, perhaps?? perhaps not)). It’s not a tight fit, but his death scene is as much Moses gazing out over the promised land that his sins have doomed him not to enter, as it is any other story pattern going. And there are other resonances. I don’t want to go too far down either of those rabbit holes because T’Challa was, to me, a very solid, very compelling character, so I’m not willing to claim he isn’t A protagonist, or anything that extreme…. but there’s definitely some there, there, to Killmonger being equally key. The noble/tragic villain who could have been other than he was… if only… if only…. is a trope I enjoy, and one that I hope to see more of. (Across the way, DC is definitely playing with tragic villainy in Supergirl this season, albeit in a different context.)

    3) One thing I noticed that I haven’t come across is that while this is very much a story of men and women, it is very much also a story of fathers but not of mothers. T’Challa’s mother is strong, but plays a very minimal role in the story (given her widowhood and her age, this is understandable… but then again the kids are grieving, but still get central roles). Killmonger’s mother is (as far as I can tell?) barely discussed. We don’t know what happened to her, what her role in his life was, nothing. The fierce trio are interesting, well-characterized, and have relationships with all kindsa people – but they sure aren’t anybody’s mom.

    That seems to me like a deliberate choice on the part of the film maker, and one that I could make a lot of guesses about. Still mulling over what I think it is *meant* to mean, and haven’t found much commentary about it either way to help me mull, but I’m very interested by it. It’s chewy.

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  11. I hear the main storyline of Black Panther is how Black Panther fought for truth, female circumcision, and the Wakandan way.

    Also why is Black Panther’s alter ego named after a style of bread? Would that make me T’welve Grain?

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  12. I just saw the Black Panther. My main take is that while it did try to address the themes of racism and colonialism, it was limited by its genre and being a mass market movie. The Black Panther seemed more like a reactionary movie on the ethics of kingship, a Black Downton Abbey with more action and science fiction technology. T’Challa is the true and good king because he tries to do right by his people and the world. Even though he can do whatever he wants, he imposes discipline on himself to do the right thing. Killmonger is a bad king because he does not restrain himself and has no respect for tradition. He has an idea and wants it done, consequences be damned.

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