If I had a nickel every time a 2022 film with indigenous connections and a special relationship with whales was made, then I would have two nickels. It is weird that it happened twice. That nickel is shinier, more original, and less racist, according to The Battle of the Dead: The Night of Light. This is the best way of comparing two of the biggest films of the year, an Indigenous blockbuster versus a few other Indigenous films.
The Way of Water, Spoilers of Avatar.
(20th Century Studios)
Despite James Camerons claims that the pregnant woman who goes to war isn’t more empowering than Captain Marvel. If something happen, I would argue that this movie was a little more empowering than the first one. I murdered Neytiri, making him a more passive figure in this movie in a much higher grade. Despite her constantly telling Jake they need to stand their ground and fight, he repeated her telling her that running is the best option. Neytiri has to leave behind his forest, his entire tribe, and even his own mother to break into a completely different ecosystem. Even without her children and Jake, we never find a scene of her struggling to adapt to their new tribe, even though she has the most trouble, even though she spent her whole life in the forest, and has never been able to do that.
In this movie, motherhood focuses particularly on the fact that Neytiri and Dr. Graces Avatar had both given birth in the time between the first and the next film. But Neytiris role of mother is disoriented in favor of Jakes role as father. During the movies, Jake tells her to stop mourning the death of his eldest son in order to save his daughters. Although only women are not mothers, Cameron himself thinks that a lot of women superheroes can’t be empowering. Like James, women shouldn’t have children to have a protective or heroic instinct. We can’t help to the younger female characters like Kiri, Tuk, and Tsireya constantly become notorious, at the point where the youngest child complains about them. It seems that this film will be much different.
Try on Black Panther, a movie that is basically entirely directed by women. The film is much about Shuri, Ramonda, Okoye and Nakia when they endured their grief following the death of TChalla. Shuris arc is about the separation of science and spirituality; the difference between what she knew was actually and what she wants to believe. Nakia is a character who has become a mother in the time between movies, but her motherhood hasn’t defined her whole character. Okoye is a warrior bound by duty and terrified – both of failure and change, yet still learning that both can allow her to grow. The biggest problem with this film is the fate of the Queen, who dies in a way that feels like it’s like being fridging; her death is used to motivate her frequent problem for Marvel (a major female character has died since Infinity War). Even Ramonda isn’t defined by motherhood; she is also a queen and a politician. She has a power but can still protect those she loves.
I want to clarify that both representations of fictional Indigenous people are exactly that. I can’t really discredit one of them, as bad representation, because they aren’t ultimately representing a real-world culture.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever changed the previously white Atlanteans to Central American peoples, based on the Mayan People of the Yucatan peninsula. Their story is deeply related to colonialism, with migrants fleeing to escape the pixar, and deported in the army by Spanish, slaves and slaves. Namor was literally named by Spanish colonizers and priests who called him a child in favor of punishing the colonizers. The actors playing Atlanteans went over and beyond to understand the Mayan culture in a way that was successful and learned the language. Tenoch Huerta spoke particularly hard about what his casting in this film meant to him and people like him. The film also shows how the American military/intelligence complex is a continuation of the colonial forces that do not like anybody except themselves to have access to vibranium.
Comparatively, Avatar still feels quite like a movie from 2008. Jake is still the main character and his kids and Neytiris kids almost all are played by white actors. The whitewashing can be very useful for Navi characters, Kate Winslet playing the wife of the Chief, played by a New Zealander.
Depending on the way Spider was used to this world, it feels very culturally appropriative. The boy (who is an adult) literally paints blue and goes in dreadlocks to make himself more like the Navi. While they do lampshade this, mostly because of jokes between children.
IMAX Studios (Marvel Studios)
Namor is a formidable villain, not only because he is highly threatening, but also because he challenges Shuri’s worldview,because unlike her brother, a part of Shuri’s worldview is so angry that she wants to burn it all. Shuri and Namor understand each other’s desire to protect their people, and that is ultimately the reason they all end the fighting and attempt to live in peace.
It makes an unexpected impression that as soon as you reach the end of the movie, the villain who died, is not afraid to look at it. Youd think a woman that is racist would be, just to challenge himself, being a racist now (technically) part of a race that he considered inferior and cruel but shrugs it off. There’s an interesting dynamic between him and his surprise son, Spider, who was raised among the Navi and has his knowledge over his father’s head. But the relationship between both of us is underbroken because Spider continually helped his father and eventually saved his life, even though he knew that he was hurting the Navi.
The morality of the story is that is almost white. Only when the first was so simple, they were instead killing trees on the grounds of mining — they did not kill mothers whales and their calvesall to make human a liter of liquid that stops aging because it sold for millions of dollars back home. All that talk of the possibility of taking humanity out of the destruction of Earth from manmade destruction and, as it turns out, they really are on earth to better the rich. In this movie you can use a brutally honest analysis of late-stage capitalism and our efforts to stop climate change, but this isn’t possible for me.
Via the 20th century, the Union of the XX.
I have to give credit no matter how lucky it is. Avatar is still breathtaking and creative. It’s fascinating to see the divergence of forest and corals between different cultures and the species from one culture to the other. The talking whales are a bit of a surprise (mostly because they weren’t used to seeing subtitles for whale vocalizations), but because they had also a connection with the trees earlier, it wasn’t much of a stretch to imagine the Navi learning to communicate with other intelligent lifeforms. The one place where it fall flat is that all Navi know the same language, so that there wasn’t any problem with communication arising from different dialects or languages.
There are parts of Wakanda forevers Talokan in contrast to a rich life. Wakanda fears going to war with a neighboring nation that has access to vibranium, but in the movie, they showed that they had a system to neutralize the effects of the precious metal, so why don’t we use it? We see that Talokan was lit by a false sun, presumably powered by or made from raw vibranium; but not at all, we can see very little of how vibranium affects their culture or technology. It isn’t helps that certain parts like the warriors heightened healing factors or the fact that some Talokan are blue and some brownis never explained.
Since Pandora and Navi are inspired by many people’s creations, their story was written and the white man put them onto the screen. The YouTuber Sideways made an excellent video that shows how the space building of Avatar was, however, limiting James Cameron’s vision of how he wanted this planet to look and sound. The first version of the soundtrack was cut out because it looked too alien. Irony is the greatest thing.
During this time, fans are calling for more Namor and Talokan and Indigenous representation in the MCU – but unfortunately they don’t even have the opportunity.
Of course, everybody can have their preferences. And despite the fact that the two franchises feel the same white-savior narratives that we have seen in a hundred other movies, that one is, despite the sexisted nature of the film, the Black Panther movie is always giving us a new one.
What movie has a better sound? Which film was the best for this particular project?