Terry Gilliam’s Black Panther Comments Aren’t Criticism – They’re Racist
Ever since Martin Scorsese claimed the Marvel Cinematic Universe was more like a theme park ride than cinema, the past couple of months have seen an onslaught of famous directors offering their opinions of the MCU. Some of these might be more favorable than others, but generally even the harshest criticisms have been relatively innocuous. As a result, the level of defensiveness demonstrated by Disney CEO Bob Iger and some MCU fans has often felt unnecessary.
Enter Terry Gilliam, the former Monty Python animator and director of such films as Brazil and Twelve Monkeys, who has offered a take that’s actually worth getting upset about.
While most of his comments echo the criticisms of other filmmakers (such as taking issue with superhero subgenre in general, finding the movies lacking in real stakes while still acknowledging the technical skill required to make them), he just had to embarrass himself with an insulting and racist take on Black Panther, Marvel Studios’ most critically acclaimed film.
To avoid any misinterpretation, let’s get this disclaimer out of the way: No, disliking Black Panther doesn’t make you racist. There are plenty of legitimate criticisms that can be made of the film, and it’s annoying when Marvel Studios defenders use Black Panther as evidence the MCU as a whole is more “progressive” than the directors who criticize it (ignoring, for instance, how Scorsese’s World Cinema Project has done more to preserve the history of African cinema than Disney ever did).
The problem isn’t that Gilliam dislikes Black Panther, it’s why he dislikes it. First, he said, “I hated Black Panther. It makes me crazy. It gives young black kids the idea that this is something to believe in. Bullshit. It’s utter bullshit.” What sort of person is against giving young black kids “something to believe in”? It wouldn’t be objectionable would be if he was taking a stand against escapist fantasies in general, but this is the same filmmaker who directed Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. So, based on Gilliam’s comments, it seems he believes it’s only black kids who shouldn’t have escapist fantasies to believe in.