Whenever I go out to see a movie, I don’t go because of the special effects, actors, cinematography, or great musical score; these are important elements that help tell a story. But, what I must have when I leave my seat, in the end, is a good story. The rest just enhances the story enjoyment.
I went out today to see Marvel’s newest release, “The Black Panther.” I’m not going to critique the movie or actors, nor talk about the special effects or the music. What I’m interested in–is the story.
The movie begins with a night scene of stars and a child voice asking someone to tell him a story. I thought, alright that’s a good start. As the narrator continues to tell the story, I began thinking to myself, “There is something familiar here. Where have I heard this story before?”
According to Sumerian legends, Enki, a son of Anu, king on another planet called Nibiru, lands on Earth, on what today we call Africa, to mine for gold to take back to save his planet. There is something wrong with the Anunnaki’s planet’s atmosphere and gold is needed to repair it. The Anunnaki are quite advanced in science and technology, and establish themselves on Earth mining the gold.
According to Sumerian tradition, it was the Anunnaki that genetically bred man into Cro-Magnon, which is who we are today. The Anunnaki story is over 6,000 years old.
The Black Panther movie, on the other hand, seems to borrow segments from this ancient story. It tells a story with advanced beings, living in Africa, who possess advance science and technology. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen this movie yet I’m not giving anything away. Story cannibalism is natural in the storytelling world.
“Black Panther,” is a new movie, but not a new story. The first Black Panther story originated back in 1966. It was part of Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966) during the Silver Age of comic Books. Like Batman, T’Challa (Black Panther hero) has no super powers and must rely on his proficiency in physical training, science, and technology to battle his opposition.
Interesting enough, another Black Panther story began in 1966. It was formed by two men, Bobby Seale and Huey Newton. The original purpose of this organization was to make sure African-American citizens were armed like militia. In time, the FBI got involve and soon discredited the organization. The Black Panthers received too much negative media and political attention, and by the 1980’s, the organization was gone, and so was the name, “Black Panther.”
It was Michael Margolis who said, “The stories we tell literally make the world. If you want to change the world, you need to change the story.” I think the writers of the Black Panther are on that path. Brandon Sanderson wrote, “The purpose of a storyteller is not tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.” I also think this story has the potential to make its audience do just that.