Why Black Panther Is The Superhero Film We All Needed
If you haven’t already heard... this movie is a must see. Marvel Studios’ Black Panther has finally hit theaters and it’s the perfect way to celebrate the last days of Black History month. According to Forbes, the blockbuster film made a record-breaking $25.2M in the box offices for early screenings on Thursday. Opening day hit revenues more than $76M and it was marked as the fifth largest opening weekend behind The Avengers.
By Brianna Allen
The ground-breaking director, Ryan Coogler, who also directed Fruitvale Station and Creed, made Black Panther not only entertaining; but a film that is both educational and empowering. The 33-year-old director hit the mark by combining the nuance of African tribal traditions with the modernity found in today’s black culture landscape. The film features T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returning to his home country, Wakanda. T’Challa is set to become the next King and Black Panther, due to the death of his father. As the King, he is faced with the challenge of defeating his enemies and keeping the people of his country safe from Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). With the support of strong women, like Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), Okoye (Danai Gurira), Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and Shuri (Letitia Wright), he aims to succeed in his fight for Wakanda and remain on the throne.
Throughout the movie, the people of Wakanda are depicted in a positive and forceful light. Typically, a movie with a majority black cast will succumb to using negative stereotypes about the black community. Instead, we see women in roles of power, acting as physically strong forces to support and protect their Kings. The empowerment of the strong independent black woman in this movie was inspiring - from the way Okoye fights with resilience and sacrifice for the King of Wakanda to the pure intelligence of Shuri engineering advanced gadgets and weapons to keep T’Challa out of harms way. Although Black Panther may have been the superhero, he would not have prevailed without the support of these tenacious women acting as powerful forces in his life.
As a black woman, to see women of color playing significant roles in a film was empowering. It shows that representation truly does matter in films like Black Panther, Hidden Figures or Moonlight. These types of stories positively impact and uplift the black community. Black Panther has been a true inspiration to all ages. However, the film has made its greatest impact on black youth. This is Marvel’s first film directed by an African American with a predominantly black cast and the first black superhero. It is important for young black children to see these strong images represented in the media, which encourages them to embrace their blackness. Like Black Panther, Hidden Figures sent an important message to our community. Hidden Figures told us the story of three African American women who were the brains behind the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. Before Hidden Figures, a lead role featuring an African American woman with the focus on her intelligence was unlikely. Taraji P. Henson played a phenomenal role of Katherine Johnson, which encouraged young African American women to learn more about science and pursue STEM majors. After the release of the film, young girls wanted to be these role models as they dressed up as these Hidden Figures for Halloween costumes or school-themed events. This shows how influential the entertainment and film industry is in our society. This industry must continue to use their power to create movies that break boundaries, which uplift and inspire the black community, and Ryan Coogler has done just that.
The wave of excitement for Black Panther was evident as fans flocked to theatres dressed in African ensembles - from dashikis to traditional print attire. Our first ever black superhero in Marvel history ignited pride and joy among the black community. Now to mention, it has encouraged the community to embrace their unique heritage, from natural hairstyles such as, afros, braids or faux locs to African-inspired clothing. For decades, women of African descent in the film industry have hid their natural hair, wearing straight hairstyles to appear more westernized. The idea that Black Panther portrays the pure natural beauty of our people and culture was #BlackGirlMagic.
Black Panther is not just a film; it’s a movement. For me, it’s a 10/10.