Going Bonkers for “Black Panther”

Photo by Eric Shih

Marvel has done it again, folks. The plight of Wakanda is taking the globe by storm this year in a movie that both fans and critics alike are calling the number one movie in the world. “Black Panther” has become the talk of the table, breaking the box office with 1.2 billion dollars in ticket sales already and earning an A+ cinemascore. In its first 24-hours of advanced ticket sales, “Black Panther” sold more than any other Marvel movie had ever sold previously.

With a relatively measly $2 million budget, director Ryan Coogler masterfully brought together a fresh, exhilarating superhero flick full of heart that people of any age can enjoy. A film critic from the New York Times wrote a review of Marvel’s newest gem, raving, “A jolt of a movie, “Black Panther” creates wonder with great flair and feeling partly through something Hollywood rarely dreams of anymore: myth.”

Although “Black Panther” is an entertaining and exciting movie for anybody to watch, its story actually goes much deeper into the hearts of many. Films that focus on the black American experience often host stories centered on pain, suffering and poverty, but “Black Panther” recalls the race in a different light. A whole power-packed cast of color is presented as rulers, inventors and creators of advanced technology.

This is not the first black superhero movie, but it is a superhero movie that will have a long-lasting, empowering effect. Like it says in the video above, this is what white people get to feel like all the time—it’s normal to see these oversized movie posters centered with white casts, and the mental image of a superhero to many is a white man, like Superman, Batman or Captain America. However, with “Black Panther,” African-Americans are given the chance to be portrayed in a film just like white superheroes have been portrayed: as inspiring, intelligent bosses who have the power to save the world.

Not only does “Black Panther” show progress in the presentation of its characters, but also in the articulation of its setting as well. The image of Africa is often a blurred, skewed vision clouded by the public’s ignorant consensus of what it is like: a starving, diseased wasteland full of both internal and external struggle. This film, however, is centered in a fictional country called Wakanda that renews the view of the continent. Vox, in an article titled “Black Panther: A Gorgeous, Groundbreaking Celebration of Black Culture,” praises Wakanda as “a land of black vibrancy, freedom, diversity, and discourse not blighted by outside forces or forced to negotiate with anyone but themselves.”

This enlightened view of Africa is refreshing, especially to black Americans who haven’t much idea of what their homeland is really like or about. Instead of promoting the popularized (and exaggerated) image of the continent as dangerous and dirty, “Black Panther” creates a free, wise, booming and advanced society in the heart of East Africa that is hidden and untouched by any outside source. African-Americans everywhere appreciate this novelty characterization of their home and viewers worldwide are awe-inspired by the amazing kingdom that is Wakanda.

Not only are its ticket sales and general popularity impressive, the empowering effect of a movie like this has the potential to go unmatched. This country still has so much growing to do and through a creation like “Black Panther,” we all can learn something. Tweet us, @VALLEYmag, with your thoughts on this fantastic film!


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