Where ‘Black Panther’ Strays from the “Inner Consistency of Reality”


I heard the hype about Black Panther before I saw movie. I tried to avoid reviews, but my social media feeds made Black Panther inescapable. I hoped that first and foremost it would be a good story; mediocrity is not worth $20 at Regal Cinemas.

When I finally made it out to see the movie, I was pleasantly surprised. T’Challa (played by Chad Boswick) was a believable young ruler, Wakanda expressed the beauty of an oral culture with distinctive traditions radically different from Europe or America, and the powerful female warriors recalled images of Masai strength. I found myself enveloped in an “Africa that could have been,” a vision of powerful African men and women who stood shoulder to shoulder with their global counterparts.

Like all successful fantasies, Black Panther taps into something true — it shows the real desire for an independent and noble Africa, one led by honest men dedicated to preserving their own traditions. How it achieved this vision caused me to step back and think more critically about one aspect of the film. In his essay “On Fairy Stories,” Tolkien explains that one of the markers of a good “secondary world” involves striking the reader (or viewer) as having the “inner consistency of reality.” Black Panther lacks that inner consistency, and shows the necessity of a complex vision of African success for the future. The problematic area was the Wakandan superiority of science and technology. …Read More.