Black Panther Hits the Big Time

Marvel’s Newest Film Introduces the World to Wakanda


Angel Benjamin, J1 Staff Writer

Premiering in the United States on February 16 of this year, Black Panther has already forged a name for itself before it has even come out in theaters.

With excitement surrounding the movie, the solo Marvel film is greatly anticipated for multiple reasons not only that, it will be action packed and is about a superhero. The film is being especially welcomed by the African American community because of the large amount of representation being displayed on the screen in a film that doesn’t involve slavery, drugs, or other less than desirable situations.

According to Marvel’s history with superheroes – and the movies that are linked to them – most of them have been Caucasian/White and have little diversity in the main superhero characters. With Black Panther, a fictional African-based protagonist, there is a chance for young children to see their skin color represented in a leading superhero role.

According to Clarkisha Kent’s article “On Black Panther, Black Leopard and the Politics of Being a Black Superhero” from The Root, an online magazine, there was a time when Black Panther was not Black Panther. There had been a name change back in an issue of the Fantastic Four comics because of how politically related its name was to the famous socialist organization Black Panther Party. To avoid this relation, the name was briefly changed to Black Leopard. Legendary superhero creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the character in 1966 with the political party being established the same year, though they intended no connection says Graeme McMillan. Despite this, fans often assumed a correlation between the superhero and the organization.

The movie itself is supposed to be “afro-futuristic” with the home base being an uncolonized and untouched fictional African country named Wakanda. As for the soundtrack, it’s been produced by rapper Kendrick Lamar who is known for his powerful messages that speak volumes through his music. Other well-known artists such as The Weeknd, SZA, and Travis Scott are also featured on the soundtrack. If the music is not  enough to get someone excited about this film, then maybe the beautiful cast featuring Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, and Michael B. Jordan will.

While superhero films are common in today’s film industry, many of those who enjoy and are passionate about the genre don’t see the social significance of this one. Superhero film fans may not  understand how important the film is to the average African American. Most movies starring a large number of black actresses and actors are usually related to history films such as Birth of a Nation or 12 Years A Slave. These are deeply crafted films with strong messages but that is sometimes all you ever see. This film breaks new ground for the superhero genre and that is a good thing. The representation in this movie is real and it is coming full force on February 16th to theaters everywhere.