My family went to see the latest Marvel movie, Black Panther, and, on this occasion, I joined them. I typically do not attend movies with my husband and children simply because their lunch and movie give me a rare four-hour window of peace and quiet and down time in my own house. As a homeschooling mom, I admit that I cherish and look forward to the days that they go to the movies.
The family has seen all the Marvel movies and so it was nothing out of the ordinary to see Black Panther on opening weekend. I’m a bit behind because I have not yet seen Thor Ragnarok, as I typically choose to wait until movies come out on Amazon or Netflix so that I can multitask while watching them. Nevertheless, Black Panther did not require the viewer to have seen the most recent Marvel movie and I enjoyed it immensely.
Of course, as a homeschool mom I had to do something while I sat through 2 ½ hours of preview and movie time and so I made mental notes about discussion questions we could incorporate into our schooling over the coming weeks.
I’ve already been through a few questions with my oldest, who is 10. Many of these questions are more appropriate for an older student who has studied world history and who has some understanding of current events. We have studied world history from a chronological perspective and have made it through the middle ages. Our world history study covers all continents and civilizations, not just the typical ones covered in school, and we have spent a great deal of time on African history. So these questions were fine for my 5th grader.
I use the Socratic method in my homeschool and these questions are providing rich, lengthy discussions. I am always fascinated when I listen to my children’s reasoning on largely philosophical questions. Many people think that you have to wait until high school in order to get a child to think deeply, but I have found that even young children, who have acquired a large vocabulary and have developed reasoning skills over the course of their education, can analyze information and articulate their thoughts well.
Here are the discussion questions I am using (the answers are not as important as the analysis and thought process):
1. Discuss the very different leadership styles of T’Challa versus Killmonger. Where they effective? Which leadership style is more likely to lead to a plot to overthrow the government? Which leadership style is more likely to inspire true loyalty? Elaborate on your conclusions.
2. Discuss the science behind the energy absorption, storage and redistribution capabilities of the Black Panther suit.
3. Based on Africa’s history of colonization and depletion of natural resources by outsiders, were the Wakandans wrong to keep their technology from the world? Why or why not?
4. Based on Africa’s history of colonization and depletion of natural resources by outsiders, what are some possible scenarios that may result from the Wakandans now divulging the true nature of their country and resources to the outside world?
5. Based on world history, what are the possible outcomes of Wakanda emerging as a likely super power?
6. Were the Wakandans wrong to distance themselves from the struggles of black people in Africa and around the globe? Why or why not?
7. Does Wakanda’s desire to hide itself from the world differ from other isolationist countries in the news today, namely, North Korea? Elaborate on your conclusion.
8. What was Killmonger’s stated reason for wanting to take over Wakanda and its resources? Was his reasoning valid or not? Based on his motivation for taking over Wakanda, was Killmonger a true villain? Could he have ultimately ended up a hero if allowed to carry out his vision? Elaborate on your conclusions.
9. Based on the history of other rich, industrialized nations’ takeover of smaller, poorer nations, was Killmonger’s approach to fulfilling his goals any different? Elaborate on your conclusion.
10. In the movie, we see a fictionalized perspective of an African country that has never experienced colonialization and whose natural resources were never plundered by outsiders. Do you think African countries that sit on vast stores of natural resources would look different today if they had not been colonialized and their resources not plundered by outsiders? Why or why not?
11. Women played important roles in the Black Panther movie. We saw them as nurturers, warriors, and as scientific geniuses. Using examples of women from the film, how were the women’s roles in the film different from what you typically see of women’s roles in media? How were they different from the way women of color are typically depicted in media?
12. Despite having access to advanced technology and taking advantage of some aspects of westernized culture, Wakanda steadfastly maintained and preserved its own culture. What are some examples of this? What are ways that we can exercise and honor our culture while living in a larger community that has a different culture?
Enjoy your discussions!