If you like Star-Lord T’Challa from What If… ?, you should watch See You Yesterday on Netflix


Not much could be added to the second episode of Marvel’s What If…? to make it a better tribute to Chadwick Boseman. In a timeline where his T’Challa is picked up from Wakanda instead of Peter Quill from Chris Pratt by Yondu (Michael Rooker), thus becoming Star-Lord in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, everything is infinitely better.

Drax (Dave Bautista) homeworld is not destroyed. Nebula (Karen Gillan) is happy and well adjusted. Thanos (Josh Brolin) never goes completely genocidal (although he still thinks that taking out 50% of all life is a good strategy). T’Challa’s spirit of social policy and belief in people serves the universe very well, making him a legend among thugs.

It’s sci-fi that feels good, even when things start to look hopeless against The Collector (Benicio Del Toro), with that cosmic Marvel vibe where the playing field is big and could go anywhere. Boseman’s performance is generally captivating, full of the same enthusiasm for material that helped make Black Panther one of the franchise’s strong points. Netflix’s See You Yesterday is a solid complement to T’Challa’s on-screen portrayals, using science fiction to examine racial violence.

CJ (Eden Duncan-Smith) and Sebastian (Danté Crichlow) are brilliant young students in New York City who experience time travel and begin building contraptions to gently delve into the recent past. It’s a wacky experiment in the vein of Doc from Back to the Future, until CJ’s brother Cosmo is killed by the police and his science becomes the solution to his grief.

She uses her machine to go back and prevent Cosmo’s death, but much like Marty McFly’s own misadventures, she finds playing with time, to any degree, a complicated business. Directed by Stefon Bristol, who co-wrote the screenplay with Fredrica Bailey, See You Tomorrow has wishful thinking colliding with the harsh reality of the violence and trauma experienced. Some cycles of violence are not as easy to escape as tearing apart time and space.

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Releasing in 2018, the premise and themes of the sci-fi film are still relevant today. Racial injustice and police brutality continue to inspire protests and protests around the world, as incidents like Cosmo’s occur with maddening regularity.

At the end of Black Panther, T’Challa visits Kilmonger’s childhood home in Oakland, Calif., And says he’s going to open an outreach center there to be a part of Wakanda and share his knowledge and resources. See You Tomorrow makes it clear that this technology and know-how is just one step in solving larger systemic issues.

The Bristol film recalls the inherent fantasy of Black Panther and the need for real and meaningful engagement at the community level. No miracle cure exists for what is rotten at the heart of the institutions that allow police to murder people or engage in racial discrimination with impunity. Nothing can bring back those who are lost. Instead, we need to dig in and find ways to root out the problems.

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Nothing CJ does gives her the life she wants, and her efforts never stop confusing her house in a more temporal weirdness. The deeper and more desperate it gets, the further we are from why this is all happening in the first place. The obsession with deep loss can be a damaging thing, and Bristol captures how our worldview can become so distorted when something we love is taken away from us.

See you yesterday on Netflix

Duncan-Smith is also an integral part of emotionality. Her CJ is reminiscent of Marvel’s confident and creative Peter Parker – his time machine involves strapping a smartphone to his wrist – but also supporting a weight no teenager should have to carry. Spike Lee is producing a Bristol professor at NYU, and it’s not hard to see why the Do The Right Thing and BlacKkKlansman director took an interest in the project. Even Michael J Fox comes by to give a nod of approval.

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Marvel Studios is making the wise choice not to replace Chadwick Boseman, but to imbue Black Panther 2 with his passing by making others become the heroes. Riri ‘Ironheart’ Williams debuts via the sequel, ahead of his series on the Disney Plus streaming service. See You Tomorrow shows the importance of what T’Challa stands for and why it takes more than superheroes to build a better future.

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