Black Panther is groundbreaking for many reasons. It’s the first Marvel movie with a black director and predominantly black cast. It’s grossed a multi-record breaking $242 million during its four-day opening weekend. It features black women as intelligent warriors and spies who fight alongside men — and often better than them — for the survival of their country. And it portrays Africans as superheroes, in a way that shatters stereotypes and helps black children, as director Ryan Coogler said during a live Twitter Q&A, “never have to be ashamed to be African.”
For the most part, these wins were expected or at least hoped for from the highly anticipated film. But what couldn’t be predicted is the widespread thirst discourse this film, and the gorgeous men who inhabit Wakanda, would spark across the world.
The cause for the “Black Panther Thirst Effect” is simple — there are no ugly men in Wakanda. A fact that could’ve been predicted when Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan were announced as leads, but is made quite clear once you see the pair are just two of the many fine-ass black characters in the film. (Yes, even the extras were fine!) Seeing so many black actors in a film of this magnitude was already overwhelming due to the lack of representation of black people in Hollywood, but for them to be ridiculously attractive was an unexpected plus that left audiences quite literally thirsting for more.
Within hours of the film’s release last Thursday, Twitter timelines, Groupmes, Instagram Stories, and Facebook statuses were abuzz with a plethora of fun not-so-pure thirst tweets as delicious as the men they were about. Marriages were proposed, future family life was imagined, sexual rendezvous were fantasized, and new zaddies were crowned as fans left theaters with nothing but visions of chocolate abs and Jabari men in their head.
The best part of the thirst reactions is that the demographic having the most fun are black women. Not to say that black women deserve to thirst more than any other group, but it’s an experience many people of color don’t get to enjoy nearly as often as we should at the movies. For black women who like men specifically, there are only so many lead roles black male actors get cast for. Now subtract all the drug dealers, trifling baby daddies, cheating and/or abusive husbands, and leads romantically involved with nonblack women, and you don’t have much left. The best 2017 had to offer us on the big screen was Kofi Siriboe seducing Jada Pinkett in Girls Trip, which is why that became such a cultural moment last summer. In Black Panther we don’t just get a couple of boy toys, or only one decent black male character, we get a buffet of MEN to revel in. Every leading man brought his own unique fineness to the film, so much so it’s almost hard to choose a favorite.
T’Challa (Boseman), the Black Panther himself, is as good as good men come. He’s in love with a dark-skinned black woman (Nakia, played by Lupita Nyong’o) who he’s not afraid to take into battle with him while fighting enemies or be vulnerable with; she’s the first person he went to when he found out his father killed his uncle. And when T’Challa asked Nakia to stay in Wakanda, he made sure to help her fulfill her chosen life purpose versus just selfishly asking her to sacrifice everything to be with him. There’s also the not-so-small fact that Boseman is fine as hell. From his chiseled abs and jawline, to his beautiful brown skin, to that Obama-esque walk that drips with swag — he’s a king inside and out, and we noticed. As one Twitter user playfully mused, “Chadwick Boseman looks like he’d build our children a treehouse, lay consistent pipe everynight and hide love letters all over the house to show his appreciation for me.” He was serving the best of both worlds and fans couldn’t help but want in.
Then there is the resident bad boy of the film, Erik Killmonger, played by Michael the B(ae) Jordan who oozes so much sex appeal that several people took to Twitter to complain about how their significant others were visibly moved by his presence in the film and didn’t even bother to hide it. Jordan is by all definitions a beautiful specimen of a man who has the nerve to be fine in the face with the body of a Greek god — or in this case — an African king. The scene where Killmonger begins to undress as he gets ready to fight T’Challa for the throne can arguably be described as orgasmic. Jordan clearly did not miss one gym day while filming, his muscles were blinding enough to have you forgetting the plotline and overcome with nothing but the desire to connect every single one of the dots on his body, which thankfully, is barely covered for the rest of the film. Jordan’s character, although the antagonist, gave us plenty to lust over. Even in his worst moments, as one black woman on Twitter pointed out: “When Michael B Jordan was choking that lady in #BlackPanther & said, ‘When I tell you to do something you do that shit’ I whispered ‘Yes daddy’.
The breakout star/object of our thirst in Black Panther is without a doubt newcomer Winston Duke who played the leader of the Jabari tribe, M’Baku (or as many now call him on Twitter, Mmmm’Baku). Standing at 6 foot 4 inches and just as thick as he wants to be, M’Baku is more than a snack, he’s a meal. His large frame is topped with a handsome bearded face that can go from extremely sexy to adorably cute whenever he decides to bless you with his warm smile. Crowned by a crisp fade with bronze tips and bellowing bass voice (and bark), he instantly became the top candidate for everyone’s Man Crush Monday. Full on fiction has been written about the man. The cherry on top? M’Baku has the audacity to be as funny as he is fine. His character had some of the best lines in the film (“Just kidding, we’re vegetarian” he told Agent Ross, played by Martin Freeman, after he threatened to feed him to his children). His entire performance had women far and wide ready to put on a Parka, give up meat, and climb to the top…of M’Baku’s mountain.
W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya), N’Jobu (Golden Globe winner Sterling K. Brown), and the younger version of King T’Chaka (Atandwa Kani) all definitely deserve honorable mentions. Kaluuya and Brown have gotten their fair share of thirst long before Black Panther premiered thanks to their roles in Get Out and This Is Us, respectively. But that didn’t stop fans from adding them to their very long potential Wakanda suitors lists. In fact, I think author Demetria Lucas said it best on Instagram and her blog, “I’m a ‘lady’ in America. I’d be a ho in Wakanda. A proud ho. An equal—opportunity ho. They seem like a world that has evolved past sexism, but they might bring back that title for my antics. I’d be criminally ho-ing.”
In conclusion, Black Panther gave black women the thirst they deserved, in a world where the things that bring joy to us so often get overlooked. And to keep celebrating that joy, here are some more thirst tweets:
If you want to hear more about thirst, make sure you subscribe to BuzzFeed's own hit podcast, Thirst Aid Kit! Listen wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Spotify, and Google Play. Just search for "Thirst Aid Kit."
Sylvia Obell is an entertainment reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Sylvia Obell at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.