Marvel’s newest film “Black Panther” has already shattered a multitude of records across the world, bringing in approximately $242 million dollars in revenue during the debut alone. With Ryan Coogler’s amazing directing, Chadwick Bosemans’ charm and vigor as T’Challa (Black Panther), the brilliant detail in the African-inspired costumes, the beautiful and fictional Wakanda and so much more, the film certainly does not disappoint.
Growing up in a country where the vast majority of its inhabitants do not look like me has often been draining. I’d venture to say that one of the leading issues plaguing the black community is both the erasure of our culture and the ignorance of our roots by mainstream society. That’s why “Black Panther” is one of the most conscientious and revolutionary films that our generation has yet to see.
For persons of color, finding positive representation in a white-dominated society is a nearly impossible task. “Black Panther” puts a refreshing spin on the way that the media showcases black bodies. Instead of the trite and stereotypical rhetoric that all black people are either thugs, baby mommas, ghetto welfare queens, criminals, etc., we are given unequivocal images of resilient black men and women of all shades, ages and sizes. Not only does this movie show how strong black people are, it also showcases how multilayered the strength of the black woman is—an area that has also been lacking in the media.
The film, which premiered Friday, Feb. 16, couldn’t have come at a better time due to our country’s rapidly regressing racial and political climate. Seeing positive images of people of color is integral to the dismantling of the negative perceptions that consume the thoughts of those who may be uninformed or under-educated, thus making this movie a victory for not only the black community, but for society as a whole.
The movie has opened up room for significant amounts of controversy, as well as commentary. Some have complained that the movie is racist and insensitive, citing that it seemed the superhero, Black Panther, is directly tied to the Black Panther Party.
The Black Panther Party, which was founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in 1966, was created for the purpose of enhancing the welfare of the black community and providing assistance as needed. The reason that the Black Panther Party is often such a controversial topic is attributed to its “by any means necessary” agenda and its strained relationship with police officers. The group has often been reduced to a vehement gang, leading them to be a direct target for the FBI and counterintelligence program.
Ironically, the “Black Panther” comic came onto the scene the same year that the Black Panther Party was founded. However, the comic was not named after the Black Panther Party, and it’s evidenced in the film that the two have minimal ties, though I must admit that I loved seeing Michael B. Jordan’s character Killmonger really pushing T’Challa and the audience to understand the plight and the history of black people, which was a major goal of the party. His parting words still give me chills: “Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships because they knew that death was better than bondage.”
Although one movie certainly cannot single-handedly fix each and every racial issue in the world, the creation of “Black Panther” is a surefire step in the right direction. The movie contained so many underlying themes making it an unarguably groundbreaking film. I’m looking forward to more films like this is the future. Happy Black History Month and Wakanda forever!
Danaé Reid is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in African American Studies ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.