Since the announcement in October 2014, Marvel fans, more specifically fans of colour, have been excited and scared to see how Marvel/Disney handles the first big budget superhero film — with a predominantly black cast — in the golden age of superheroes.
Once Ryan Coogler was announced as director and the award-winning cast revealed, most of the trepidation subsided.
And when the first trailer dropped, Black Twitter lost its mind getting the first look at the authentically African visuals, costumes, set designs and accents.
With the movie releasing today, Black Panther goes leaps and bounds above what was expected.
The reason is not only because it is the best Marvel solo movie. It is deeper than that. The film showcases representation on several levels and delves into African futurism and the complexity of blackness within the context of a fictional world.
Specifically, what an African country would look like if colonialism never happened.
This movie is also not only a huge step forward when it comes to giving an accurate representation of black people, but more specifically of modern Africanism. Wakanda is still very much African in its design and architecture and, hopefully, opens the world’s eyes to the potential of African futurism.
I was shocked at how black the film really is, especially the House of Mouse giving the film-maker and screenwriters the freedom to go all the way with its portrayal of blackness and it’s commentary on colonialism.
For example, one of the first scenes is of the characters commenting that white people stole resources/artefacts from Africa in a museum and I was shook.
And, while they could’ve chosen to go a safer route, it would’ve been an insult to every black person involved and every black person watching the movie since, for people of colour, our mere existence is a political statement. The women in this film are also not subservient characters or secondary players to T’Challa’s (Chadwick Boseman) Black Panther.
They are the backbone of the Wakandanian society and, very much like real life, it’s they who have to save the world from itself.
To have a film where black women are not merely maids, or wives, or girlfriends to the main characters and have fully formed personalities is rare. And something that will hopefully become the norm in the future.
On the topic of diversity, I want to address all the fans boys who will complain that Black Panther is “not really diverse” because it’s 98% black with three white characters. And to that I say, you clearly have no idea how representation works and are conveniently forgetting there have been 17 whitecentric Marvel Cinematic Universe films that we all supported with little complaint.
To finally have a movie where people who look like me, and many people of colour around the world, are not sidekicks or stereotypes means something.
And yes, Black Panther is not solving racism or making a difference in systemic oppression, but you have to remember film and TV still have a huge influence on how people view things.
This movie is set to mark a change in cinema with relation to blackness and its profitability and to that I say: “Wakanda Forever!”