This film is one of, if not, the most highly anticipated film this year. It has superhero buffs, cultural activists and movie critics alike at the edge of their seats. And I can't lie, I am as excited for it as they are, but my friends don't quite understand the magnitude of this movie and what it means for a black woman like me. So let me break down why a superhero from a fictional country in Africa has everybody and their cousins ready to show up to movie theaters in their dashikis with fried chicken and sweet tea on hand.
This will probably sound redundant at this point, but I'll repeat it because it matters. Representation in Hollywood and the world in general is lackluster. Very rarely do you see a cast featuring predominantly people of color. Even fewer than that if the movie isn't based on slavery. Now, I am not saying that films like 12 Years A Slave are not phenomenal and integral to the uplifting of Black people. I am saying that black actors and black people as well are multi-faceted and should be shown as such. Seeing people of color on the big screen depicting an array of leading roles shatters the convenient boxes of stereotypes associated with them. It inspires the people who watch them to aspire for more than the expected.
What's even better than representation is accurate representation. Rather than the preconceived images of huts filled with starving children surrounded by flies, Black Panther introduces us to a technologically-advanced society interwoven with history, culture and pride. Details scattered throughout the film from the Eric Killmonger’s (Michael B. Jordan) scarification to the Kente cloth worn by Ramonda (Angela Bassett) make it unmistakable that Wakanda is an African country. Despite misconceptions, Africa and the countries it is made of are not just untamed jungles. They are certainly not pieces of land waiting to be conquered and plundered. A movie like this has never been done before. It is original and unapologetically black and I find that in that way, the film really hits the mark.
This cast is star-studded and just oozing with talent. Marvel went all out in its recruitment snagging Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong'o, Angela Bassett, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Michael B. Jordan, Forest Whitaker and the list goes on and on. The film features up-and-coming stars alongside Oscar-winning heavyweights for an experience that box-office sales are calling unparalleled. Which leads full circle to my point that people of color are talented and breaking boundaries so we would like to see people on screen who look like us do the same... even if it's in a superhero franchise.
A film of this magnitude is a step forward for the culture, Black culture. A film like this was a fantasy 30 years ago, but strides have been made in the right direction to make this possible. It opens the gates for conversations on diversity in race, culture and sex. Black Panther is an ice cold glass of lemonade in an age of very bitter lemons and I am here for it.
Lead Image Credit: Marvel Studios