A New Black Panther Movement
“Black Panther” has taken the box office by storm and wowed critics beyond any foreseen expectations. Just for scale, this movie has now become the top grossing superhero movie of all time, so far accruing a box office of $1.2 billion dollars; this number is only going to increase. Critic have been consistently awarding the film high 90% and 5-star ratings. Again, despite some already stunning results, these numbers are projected only to increase.
Whenever a film blows away expectations in this way, we look to see what was assumed versus what was produced. “Black Panther” was an installment to the Marvel Universe, focusing on the character T’Challa, who is the Black Panther. He was first introduced to the film series in “Captain America: Civil War”, whereas he first introduced in comics in the 1960s, which were during a time of great civil and racial unrest. He was originally intended to be a character that could be a source of representation and understanding for African American readers during these turbulent times, and it can be argued that this is what he did in the movie as well.
Currently in the Marvel Universe, there have been very few main characters of color that have carried such a significant story line or have been given such a deep background that greatly contributes the plot of the movie. “Black Panther” truly changes this narrative, as basically every prominent character is from the fictional African country of Wakanda and is well-developed. For the first time in Marvel movie history, we see a predominantly black cast. This is typically something many films would attempt to to avoid, believing they would lose white viewership. Incredibly, “Black Panther” did the opposite. Not only did it speak to Marvel’s black audience in a way like never before, but it pulled in a diverse array of viewers.
“Black Panther” has been pulling in viewers who have no interest in superheroes or Marvel at all, simply because they want to see how the film was pull off what no superhero film had before (use an all-black cast). Even more importantly, however, is that this film has allowed young black children to see heroes on screen that they can identify with for the first time, ever. As they were never able to before, they can now believe that they, too, can be heroes. There is a strong difference in seeing a hero that looks like you in terms of the pride you feel in yourself and in your race, as well as in you the ability to emulate them. Black kids no longer have to solely look up to the white heroes in films to feel “super”.
For me, “Black Panther” was monumental in terms of its representation and impact. It wasn’t the average superhero movie, and it took the world by storm by taking on the all-black cast. This movie showed us a new type of hero, and more franchises should take a page from Marvel’s book in this fashion. The fear of hiring all-black casts because of potential loss of revenue should not be a factor. A good movie will reel in viewers no matter what; hopefully “Black Panther” will be the start of a monumental and needed trend.