The Black Panther movie was so good, we want to write up this list of movies like Black Panther and we are sort of at a loss. What makes the movie so remarkable it is deals with an African superhero and shows us, culturally, that the world IS very much open and hungry for that. And it didn’t hurt that the film itself was just astounding. The action scenes were insane (Marvel does those REALLY well), the story behind it had pathos and characters that felt REAL, Wakanda was stunning to finally see on film and so fully realized, and the cast smashed it.
Outside of that, it was a movie the world needs right now, as it feels like racial tensions in this country are about to reach a boiling point. Just the critical and financial success of the film says so much about how far we have come (even though 2018 may appear otherwise at first glance). Black Panther was a badass movie, but it was also a very necessary one and it hit at a time that is crucial for us as a collective people.
SO how do you suggest to people what to watch after Black Panther when Black Panther was so good? Well, we struggled but we have some material here that may not be as poignant (though some very much is), but should entertain and hell out of you.
Attack the Block
Honestly, this is one of my favorite movies. Just a great deal of fun, action-packed, and way better than it has any right being. It was also the first movie I ever saw John Boyega (of new Stars Wars movies) in, and he OWNS it.
A film about some aliens that come to Earth on a vicious hunt and it ends up being up to some punk-ass kids in the UK to essentially save the entirety of the planet (even though that planet treats them like utter sh*t).
But outside of it being a damn good movie, the character arc of the lead actor (the aforementioned Boyega) and seeing who he starts the movie as and who he ends it as is powerful filmmaking.
So, aliens versus a bunch of wannabe teenage gangsters (who you WILL grow to love across the film, despite how they make you feel in the beginning).
You can’t go wrong with that equation.
Captain America: Civil War
I think a lot of us thought the same thing when we saw Civil War. Chadwick Boseman stole the show as Black Panther in every scene he was in, and Civil War tells BP’s TRUE origin story (as in loss of father and such).
This was also many people’s (who hadn’t ever read the comics) first introduction to the character, and everyone who saw it felt the same thing:
Marvel finally has their own Batman.
I know that undermines some of the power of BP, but to say a new (to film) comic character is immediately as badass as Batman is kind of huge (and honestly, he IS straight up better than Batfleck, I will say it if no one else will).
Black Panther just outcooled Batman.
That should not have been possible, but dude did it with ease.
What has been getting me really pissed off lately is everyone saying that BP is the FIRST black superhero to get a movie. This is FAR from being true. While these other movies may not have had the impact of BP, there have been African (American, in this case) superheroes before, ALSO by Marvel, no less.
Now for those wondering why I picked Blade 2 over Blade, it’s easy: Guillermo Del Toro directed it and did creature design. And the “predator” mouth style for the vampires in this film worked really well (plus it had Ron Perlman, which only makes most things better).
Blade may feel more one dimensional in every way compared to Black Panther but he still helped opened the door, without a doubt.
Get Out was a truly remarkable movie (that I am pretty sure just won an Oscar for best screenplay) that did something so ballsy with race right now, and took it to Hitchcockian levels. A movie that is much a dissertation on the appropriation of African American culture by white people (when it benefits them), I would go so far as to say the lead in Get Out was NO LESS POWERFUL AND NO LESS IMPRESSIVE than Black Panther himself.
On top of that, the symbolism in the movie (for cinema freaks like me) is off the charts. (QUICK GET OUT SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN IT):
All the white people who intend to steal the black bodies drive black cars.
The lead character, who is African American of course, PICKS COTTON to literally save his life by blocking his ears with it (cotton picking being the very thing that killed SO MANY before him during the days of slavery).
All the things the lead kills the family with are “weird things only white people are into” like taxidermy and croquet. LMAO, true story. Do you even realize how GENIUS THAT SH*T IS?
That is why Get Out if the PERFECT movie to watch after the Black Panther movie.
The Lion King
Some may see this and scoff, but the realization that The Lion King is a semi-retelling of Hamlet in Africa sort of puts it in “other levels” territory. Also, do I have to spell it out for you:
Young child of king must take on his father’s duties when he passes on the mantle, including the protection of his land from evil.
Lion King IS Black Panther, just animated and with just as many good songs (Kendrick and Lion King soundtrack are some nose-to-nose type of shit).
Plus, this will also prep you for the awesome live action movie version of The Lion King coming soon.
Yes, I am also going non-superhero here. What you need to understand is, in a lot of these examples, we are talking about movies like Black Panther, but in this case, in a darker light, focusing on an antagonist as a protagonist, which is an amazing thing to see Denzel Washington pull off in this movie.
Again, a man who rises to extreme power (not through the same methods as these other films) and very much becomes a sort of Robin Hood, anti-hero to his people, while proving himself a menace to all who try to oppose.
Genuinely worth seeing just for the gun scene between Idris Elba and Denzel. That sh*t leaves you breathless.
Quick aside, HBO animated show is much better than the movie.
Okay, so the movie may not be fantastic by any means, and it may be dated (those special effects are hilarious now, straight up Roger-Rabbit looking sh*t) but much like Blade, this is another example of an African American superhero landing a major movie long before that was a “thing” (which it may have JUST BECAME).
And it was pretty amazing to see them not whitewash this role, which many had expected when they first heard it was getting made.
Granted, it did NOT win any awards, but it was progressive for how it handled race (by not addressing it as an issue, which is EXACTLY how to do it) and who knows, maybe the potential reboot can really get the character right (as he was f*cking awesome in the comic).
And funny thing, the same guy who played Spawn also plays the next entry on our list, which is….
I realize getting into satire and blaxploitation (especially as a writer of Caucasian descent) can be dodgy, but work with me here. I honestly think Black Dynamite is one of the funniest films of the last decade (and the fact that a sequel is coming out is pretty freaking amazing) but just because this movie uses humor and tropes and cliches to full-effect, in doing just that it had balls and was breaking taboos in half with aplomb.
It also feels important that, with a movie like Black Panther taking itself so seriously (and justifiably so), Black Dynamite’s minute to minute jokes will be a nice break from that heaviness, while still being culturally impactful.
Also, Black Dynamite has a FANTASTIC Adult Swim show from 2009 also worth checking out!
This may seem like a really odd choice to watch after Black Panther but please hear me out. I know this movie has a 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it is not here for quality, it is here to show you that this was actually already happening way back in 1993.
I know what people are gonna think when they see this entry. Meteor Man is a (meh) comedy about a black man who gets granted superpowers after a (wait for it) Meteor hits the Earth. Yes, it may sound juvenile, and in hindsight, time has not done it justice, but you need to understand, Robert Townsend (star, writer, and director) was doing brave and very progressive things with race long before that was the common thing or even acceptable by many.
The end result may not exactly be fantastic, but it may have had the balls to set the tone for what we are seeing now, and for that, it deserves kudos.
When writing a list about movies like Black Panther, it is really tough because what makes the movie so cool is the fact that it is sort of unlike anything else out there.
But any film fan can see the correlations between the story in Black Panther and the story in The Godfather (something the director has admitted to). So though they may deal with very different cultures, the heart of both stories beats the same.
And I mean, who HASN’T seen the Godfather by now? This just gives you an excuse to watch it again. Classics don’t age, that is what makes them classics.
^That’s Michael Jackson. REALLY!^
I feel the need to point out that this list of movies to watch after Black Panther is not meant to be “a list of ‘Black’ movies”. It is important to me as the writer of this piece to stress that this list is about films that really had the bravery to set the tone for the world to be open to the awesomeness of Black Panther.
The Wiz is a perfect example of that.
Not to sound like I hate my own race (no, but seriously, white people kind of suck but we will just leave that alone, American History is a testimony to that in and of itself) so to take the most WHITEBREAD movie ever, the Wizard of Oz (whitebread doesn’t NOT make it great, it is great, but that film is white as hell) and to add some of the biggest names in Black Hollywood (sorry, that term made me shudder, too) at the time, and to bring soul and funk music into it, it was the sh*t, it really was.
In a time of racism running rampant, The Wiz straight up grabbed the white bread, took it into their own bakery, and came out with something JUST AS DELICIOUS and I think that blew a lot of minds (and the recent live TV reboot proved that the story still ripples culturally).
Special Non-Movie Selection
Luke Cage (TV Show on Netflix)
The Black Panther movie may have been the big cultural and successful leap for African and African American superheroes, but on some real futhermuckin’ talk, Luke Cage on Netflix ACTUALLY did it first. That sh*t was like a year ago, and season one of that show (outside of that super cheesy final fight against Thunder Fist or whoever that gimp was) was unreal. Luke Cage was a hometown hero from Harlem who really shined a light on that aspect of life for a lot of people who had no idea what it is like.
It also got rid of the semi-racist undertones of the (old version of the) comic (no, really) and made it deeply intellectual and insightful (in between all the ass-kicking). Plus, to have him bang the shit out of Jessica Jones was cool to see, too (an interracial couple who is never called that, how refreshing).
But if you did like Black Panther like we all did, you owe it to yourself to check out Luke Cage next.
Speaking of Black Panther…