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Tear Jerker / Black Panther (2018)

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"It's beautiful..."
"Do you believe that? Kid from Oakland, runnin' around believing in fairytales?"

Black Panther is a somber tragedy spanning two generations of Wakandan royalty. Heart-wrenching moments are unavoidable.


Movie

  • During the prologue narrating the history of Wakanda, we see British traders capture and board African citizens onto a ship to be enslaved. Wakanda may have avoided such a fate from the safety of their city, but their neighbors weren't so lucky.
  • During the Mook Horror Show scene that Black Panther gives to a group of terrorists at the start of the movie, this awesome moment turns into this trope when the last member standing is just a boy who nearly gets killed by T'Challa before Nakia stops him because he was likely forced into their group against his wishes. The tone of My God, What Have I Done? in T'Challa's voice is very palpable with, and this scene is a very sad reminder of a grim reality regarding child soldiers in African countries and beyond.
  • Everyone's reaction to T'Challa's supposed death. T'Challa was brutally beaten to an inch of his life by Erik. When Zuri tries to stop the fight, he was killed instead. A furious T'Challa tries to fight back, but the wounds suffered and the blind rage make him a easy target for Erik, who then throws T'Challa off the waterfall while Ramonda, Shuri, Nakia and the rest of Dora Milaje could only look on in horror. Ramonda has to be physically dragged away by Shuri and Nakia as the Wakandan Council reluctantly makes Erik the new king.
    • Once they start going on the run, Shuri breaks down, crying over how she's lost both her father and her brother within a short period of time.
      Shuri: Mama, we didn't even get to bury him.
  • After Erik is made king, Nakia tries to recruit Okoye to overthrow him, but she tells Nakia that she is faithful to the royal family, no matter who sits on the throne. She's practically choking as she admits her conflict with loyalty.
  • Erik Killmonger has been praised by critics for being a genuinely sympathetic and compelling villain, and rightly so. Knowing his backstory, we know that Erik became who he is today because of growing up in poverty alone and knowing that his father was murdered by his own kin. As extreme as his methods are, he genuinely wants to free the oppressed African people around the world from being abused and lead Wakanda to a more prosperous future where they no longer have to hide in fear of the outside world. Or at least that is what he paints himself as, his words and actions later in the movie make his earlier stated motives more doubtful.
    • N'Jobu's death was a tragedy in and of itself. His involvement with Klaue's raid, especially considering the body count, was almost certainly enough for the Wakandan crown to order his summary assassination for treason; but instead T'Chaka flew halfway around the world to all but beg his brother to turn himself in and explain himself. However N'Jobu drew his gun on Zuri and the rest was reflex, followed by shame and/or panic.
    • At the start of that scene, N'Jobu vouched for Zuri, telling T'Chaka that he trusts him with his life. He looks heartbroken when he realizes Zuri was the one who turned him in. Zuri feels responsible for N'Jobu's death for this reason, and is clearly troubled when he recounts the story to T'Challa.
    • The cut that revealed: that little boy who looked up at the Wakandan ship in 1992 was Erik himself. More flashbacks reveal he rushed up there in hopes of asking his father about the Wakandan visitors, never suspecting that (even by accident) said-visitors killed his father.
  • Practically every scene in the ancestral plane has something emotionally heavy to it. T'Challa sees his father and breaks down the first time, and the second time, he is enraged to see him after learning that T'Chaka hid Killmonger's existence from him. Then there is Killmonger in the ancestral plane, seeing himself as a child discovering his father's body and holding him while crying. In the same exact way T'Challa held T'Chaka's body in Civil War.
    • That leads to another tearjerker as Erik meets his father, talking to him about seeing Wakanda. It's obvious that the father is seeing how his death set his son on a path of murder and anger and his reaction clearly says My God, What Have I Done?.
      • This is a sobering Call-Back to what T'Chaka said to T'Challa about how he had faith his son would be a good ruler because he prepared him for a time when his father would be dead. Sadly, Erik's father died before his son was even ready to face the world without his father.
      • Alternatively, Erik's father cried because he's considered an Un-person on his own country. But it's either because his own people shunned him for what he believe was the right thing to do, or adding to above he only blames himself for it.
    • Whatís the first thing Erik focuses on in the apartment? The spot where his father died. If his corpse was there, itís clear heíd break down and hold it like he did as a child.
    • When Erik's father sadly jokes "No tears for your father?", Erik (as a child) calmly and precociously makes a point that death is part of life. But later in that scene, we see Erik as an adult, quietly tearing up as though admitting to the audience "Yes, I do miss my dad."
      • Another possible reason for child Erikís response: given that he wouldíve grown up alone both during the aftermath of the 1992 Rodney King verdict and during a time Oakland was still known for having high crime rates, thereís the Fridge Horror that Erik saw and/or heard so much crime and people getting beaten or killed growing up that it all became a normal occurrence for him.
    • An alternate take: Erik's father realizes that his son never learned the value of life. "Well look at what I have done..."
    • When T'Challa reunites with his father and ancestors, he meets them in a beautiful African savanna environment. When Erik reunites with his father, he returns to their small Oakland apartment. If not a testament of how Erik is a stranger to his native land, it's a look into the only home he ever knew.
      • Note that T'Challa sees the ancestral plane as a vast and beautiful savanna. T'Challa doesn't live on the Border Tribe's savanna; he lives in a palace overlooking city and jungle. But his concept of 'heaven' is much wider in scope than just his own personal experience, encompassing all of Wakanda's landscape, and its history stretching back to before the city was built. To Erik, short-sighted and self-centered, 'home' was his Dad's apartment; to T'Challa, a far wiser man, it's the full breadth and scope of his kingdom and heritage.
      • Alternatively, T'Challa ancestral plane is a vast and beautiful savannah because it echoes the land of the people. When his line were buried, they returned to the land of their blood and heritage. They were buried at home and it reflects that. While N'Jobu served his country and his people (from his point of view, at least), he was killed by his brother and left to be buried in a foreign land, far away from home and his people. He was denied his place in the afterlife by his brother's shame. The reason Killmonger found his father in the apartment is because he is trapped there by his actions and his brother's choice. He was abandoned, like his son was. Even in death, N'Jobu will never see the lands of his people.
  • T'Challa's relationship with Erik. Having learned that T'Chaka not only murdered N'Jobu, but abandoned Erik to fend for himself, T'Challa's faith in his father is visibly shaken. Having such a loving relationship with his sister, T'Challa is clearly devastated by the discovery of a cousin he never knew existed, and there are several moments throughout their interactions where T'Challa shows sympathy, even love, for Erik. But every step of the way, Erik's has resisted the kinder path, especially towards the end. This subtly reminds the audience of how T'Chaka's actions have made reconciliation between the cousins impossible.
    • TíChalla is clearly gutted by the fact that his cousin was left to suffer alone after his fatherís death. It stands out as his main point of anger against Zuri and TíChaka and he even rages against his fatherís spirit for abandoning his own nephew. No doubt TíChalla (and the audience) is haunted by what could have been if Erik had been brought to Wakanda and cared for by his family instead of being left orphaned in America and how much happier his life could have been.
    • A Deleted Scene makes this even worse. Taking place shortly after T'Chaka returns to Wakanda after committing the deed, a young T'Challa sees his father reflecting on what he just did in the catacombs. T'Chaka explains to his son that he just made a difficult choice and T'Challa naively assures him that if it was to protect Wakanda then it was clearly the right one. Now, T'Challa has discovered exactly what the choice was and it completely shatters his view of his father.
  • Erik's death. Even after all he has done, T'Challa still offers to save his life, and his delivery even implies that he wants to, but Erik refuses, only asking that he be buried at sea like his ancestors who escaped slavery through suicide. When Erik laments over never getting to see the beautiful Wakandan sunsets his father spoke so much about, T'Challa lifts Erik to his feet and carries him out of the mine to grant this last request. In the end, Erik dies peacefully, and T'Challa takes it upon himself to make sure that Erik's more well-meaning goals are achieved by opening up the country and founding charity centers to help support African people across the world.
    • There's also those fantastic final words...
      Killmonger: Bury me in the ocean, like my ancestors who threw themselves off the ships...because they knew death was better than bondage.
    • After Erik passes on, there's a brief shot, as the camera pulls away, of T'Challa moving to position his arms across his chest, presumably the pose Wakandans (or their warriors) are buried in. Even if Erik doesn't want to be buried in Wakandan soil, T'Challa still decides to give him what Wakandan rites he can, including the ones that were denied to Erik's father. Also counts as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
    • Before that during their final battle, there is a brief moment when 'T'Challa accuses Erik of wanting to destroy the world, including Wakanda, Erik angrily shouts back that "The world took everything away from me! Everything I ever loved!" Tears can clearly be seen in his eyes and his voice clearly breaks at that moment, and while it's broken by his threat to kill every and anyone close or loyal to T'Challa so they share the same pain, it doesn't change the fact that Erik was made into a monster by the actions of others.
  • Zuriís death and TíChallaís reaction. Zuri steps up during the challenge and offers his life in place of TíChallaís and Killmonger stabs him on the spot. TíChallaís screams sound absolutely agonized and heís so beaten from the duel he canít even crawl over to Zuriís body.
    • Making it even worse before he strikes the killing blow, Killmonger bitterly calls Zuri ĎUncle Jamesí. It sounds like N'Jobu was so close to Zuri that Erik considered him an Honorary Uncle. Imagine how betrayed Erik must have felt when he learned about Zuriís role in his fatherís death.
    • Even even worse, Erik probably didn't know that "Uncle James" was connected to his father's death at all. He probably assumed he was either killed in Oakland's infamously crime-ridden streets, simply disappeared, or just straight up abandoned him. Imagine how incredibly hurt and furious Erik must've been to find "Uncle James," twenty plus years later, in Wakanda, in the prestigious position of a royal shaman, and admitting to Erik that he was part of N'Jobu's death, something Erik probably never considered because there was really no concrete evidence pointing to "James" as complicit in the event. If Erik wasn't angry with Wakanda before, this surely must've been the final straw.
    • If one looks closely you can see Zuri reach out to TíChalla before he succumbs to the stab wound almost as if to say goodbye or sorry.
    • The fact that it is likely that Zuriís death is what caused TíChalla to lose as he is so blinded by rage and grief he makes himself an easy target for Killmonger as he throws around pathetic and easily avoidable strikes
    • To top all of it off, Zuriís death at Erikís hands means TíChaka killing his own brother to protect Zuri - the very event that caused all this mess in the first place - was Ďífor nothingíí. Zuri avoiding death at NíJobuís hands only to be killed by his vengeful son later and nearly causes a succession crisis and worldwide revolution.
  • By the end, Okoye and W'Kabi's marriage has been torn apart after he led his troops against T'Challa, leading Okoye to order the Dora Milaje against them.
    • Just seeing W'Kabi utilize his rhinos in war, and against his former leader T'Challa no less. It was only a few days ago when those two were hanging out at W'Kabi's ranch as you would expect from two good friends.
    • When Okoye tells W'Kabi she won't hesitate to kill him for Wakanda's sake, he soberly looks around at the battle field, as though wondering to himself if this is what he intended when he sided with Erik: Wakandans fighting one another as though they were mortal enemies.
    • The deleted scene of Okoye and W'Kabi talking about the future reveals that they were considering starting a family together, something that's almost certainly not going to happen now. In the scene itself, it's clear that Okoye and W'Kabi are thinking of their future children when it comes to the decisions they make, with Okoye not wanting them to grow up as conquerors, while W'Kabi does not want them grow up hiding away.
  • During the big battle, the Dora Milaje turn on Killmonger with four of them attacking. He manages to grab one and hold a blade to her throat. Okoye hesitates but the woman knows what is to happen and utters "Wakanda forever" before Killmonger slits her throat. Okoye's scream of a sister falling to her own king drives her on.
    • It's made worse by how Killmonger laughs it off during the whole scene, just to rub salt on Okoye.
  • A withering scene where Killmonger orders the heart-shaped herbs burnt to extinction, so he can be the only Black Panther. It's sad to know that by the end of the movie, T'Challa is now the last Black Panther. After him, there will be no more, and the tradition will die (assuming of course that those were the last flowers, that nothing can be salvaged for cloning, and such).
  • Through the quarter-century of events from Oakland 1992 to Wakanda present day, N'Jobu's wife, Erik's mother, has been left a nonentity to history. Since T'Challa will likely have his Uncle's story restored to Wakanda's history along with creating the outreach center back in Oakland, he could make efforts to find out everything about her and find any of her surviving relatives.

Meta

  • This interview in which Chadwick Boseman tells the story of two boys with terminal cancer, who were holding on just so they could see the film. While telling the story, Chadwick gets emotional once he reveals that they sadly passed before the film came out.

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