When deciding to go see the Black Panther movie — which broke pre-sale ticket records – I honestly didn’t expect to see so much substance from a superhero movie. I mean there were so many subliminal messages. I’m sure that I have to watch it one more time.
Since I was never a Black Panther fan, I did a brief background check on the original character. I found out that Black Panther got it’s own comic in 1977. The series started with Black Panther, also known as T’Challa, king of Wakanda. He inherits his mantle from his father T’Chake and gains all sorts of powers such as special senses, strength and speed “from a combination of skill, divine favor and a special herb,” according to “History.”
Black Panther has become a cultural reference, which is significant to African Americans. It has become Black Panther Marvel Comic’s first African American superhero movie to feature a predominantly black cast, which includes Chadwick Boseman and Sterling K. Brown. The movement has lead to many of the thoughts that I am about to present in this article.
Why Black Panther is so Important. Black Panther addressed some of the racial inequalities and the racial tension that still exists in American society. The truth about these inequalities has recently come to the forefront through mainstream media in the wake of Oscars so White campaign, Black Lives Matter movement, black football players kneeling and the production of other films such as “Get Out.” It is definitely the beginning of a revolution. Mainstream media is beginning to address the inequality and to expose the truth about inequality. The important part of Black Panther is that it is Inspired by Afrofuturism, an example of how Africans would have been if colonization and slavery never happened. The director shows the difference between Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman, as a king, and Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, as a king. Killmonger is a vengeful murderer who appears to be brainwashed by the American culture. Black Panther is loving and cares for his people and is more fit to be king. The movie shows how powerful and beautiful the African culture really is and how it was tainted by colonization.
Black Panther is such a significant figure in American and black popular culture because of it’s “representation of blackness as more than a stereotypical and racist trope of inferiority,” according to “History.” The character was introduced in 1966. Black Panther was the first Black superhero around the Civil Rights and black-power movement. It shows the transition of racial equality on a political and social level.
How Much of Wakanda is Based on Actual Facts? Since we know that Wakanda is a fictional country, the Marvel nation does have roots in African history, according to History. According to Marvel, Wakanda is based in equatorial Africa, surrounded by Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, and the also fictional Narobia. The culture in the movie comes from real African nations. The fashion, the language, the dances are real. In the movie, Black Panther uses an actual South African dialect called Xhosa, (a language that emphasizes Xs with clicking noises.) It’s Around 7.6 million people in South Africa use Xhosa. Observers, however, have compared Wakanda to Ethiopia, which was never officially colonized. In the movie, Wakanda is symbolic to what African nations could have been had it not been impacted by racism and colonialism — the most technologically advanced country on earth, rich in natural resources. It hints at what the future holds for African Americas.
What do Africans Think About the Portrayal of the African Culture in the Movie? In an interview in the Washington Post, with Larry Madowo, a man from Africa, “Why the relationship between Africans and black Americans is so messed up,” Modowo admitted that the Wakanda represented in the movie is a place that even he would love to be a citizen of. “So Wakanda looks like a place I want to be a citizen of, because it looks like such a beautiful, egalitarian society, where the women wear their hair natural and they are powerful warriors,” he said in an interview, “It is beautiful in that sense, as a utopia of sorts. Considering the mess so many African countries are in, it’s an escape to see what we can be: the richest country in the world, everything, vibranium in excess. And if you just think, if you build a model for the perfect African country, Wakanda is that.”
He continued, “It did make me think about Kenya because many of the problems that we have in Kenya — and in most African countries — are a byproduct of colonialism. … Wakanda was not colonized, so they had a chance to build a society that was free of European influence, whether British or French. We call ourselves Francophone Africa versus Anglophone Africa. We categorize ourselves based on who our oppressor was. I always find that a strange thing. Our identity is so deeply tied to our oppression.”
African Americans Finally get a Chance to Look at Themselves in Positions of Power. Black Panther is truly a must see, not only for Black Americans but for everyone. Many of the African American roles in the past were slave roles, criminals, maids, servants and other roles that didn’t portray Black people in the best light. But it wasn’t until a couple of years ago, when the kind of movies such as Black Panther, Hidden Figures, Marshall were introduced, is when African Americans were able to see themselves as leaders and creators. “No one should take this moment away from you. No one should try to diminish it. From those of us from the outside looking in, finally we have a beautiful celebration of blackness. You all absolutely deserve it,” said Madowo.
What is the Black Panther Movie Doing for African Americans? According to CBS, a petition on Change.org currently demands that Marvel and Disney contribute 25 percent of the movie’s profits to black communities to fund programs focused on science, technology, engineering and math, for instance.
In a recent interview, one official said, “As black communities across the United States continue to grapple with issues such as gentrification, police brutality, and substandard living conditions, we cannot continue to recklessly support these conglomerates, allowing them to profit off of us without demanding something more than just their products in return,” the petition states. “Income inequality is real, and the continued decline of black wealth is something that need not only be addressed, but solved.”
It appears as though, in addition to the movie, Blacks also feel as though Marvel and Disney should not be able to exploit black issues and make money from it.
Other Black films in the past were expected to serve the needs of the black communities beyond its entertainment value as well. Nearly 50 years ago, Blacks demanded that the film industry contribute proceeds from its movies to black-owned banks and institutions, and threatened boycotts if it didn’t. But we’ll see what change the movie brings to the communities in the future. But in the meantime, Adfrican Americans are estatic about the progress that is being made.