The Power of "Black Panther" in 2018

By Ashley Logan on March 5, 2018

(Spoilers ahead)

By now, Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ has grossed almost one billion dollars worldwide and it was only released weeks ago. It is safe to say that T’Challa is taking the world by storm. Director Ryan Coogler put his all into this film, making it his most successful release to date. Coogler has only directed two other films, “Fruitvale Station” and “Creed.” that are equally as important and timely. “Fruitvale Station” portrays the murder of Oscar Grant who was shot by a police officer on a subway station platform. Grant’s life was memorialized and taught to those who weren’t aware of another black man killed because of hatred disguised as fear.

Chadwick Boseman @ 2017 Comicon (via Wikimedia Commons)

Coogler’s point of view within his films usually comes from the eyes of a young black man. This perspective is important because films mostly portray others from a “white gaze.” An article on the Guardian explains that “the white gaze traps black people in white imaginations.”

Black writers like W.E.B. Dubois, Toni Morrison, and Ta-Nihisi Coates have used their literature to speak to those who are willing to see life from a perspective that to some are unfamiliar. Most films are watered down and feature an all-white cast with a few sprinkles of people of color here and there.

“Black Panther” marks a major milestone in the film industry as it accurately shows black people as being multidimensional. The Marvel film addresses many internal conflicts that African Americans wrestle with in silence. The topic of the African diaspora where everyone from African decent bands together and uses their likeness to uplift one another.

Ryan Coogler @ Comicon 2017 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Brandon Hobbs, age 20, says “It empowered me, made me feel like I can do anything. It made me feel proud to be black, you don’t see too many superheroes that are black on the screen. There are very few but Black Panther showed a strong sense of power that isn’t always seen.”

Black Queens 

“Black Panther’s” star-studded cast featured ethereal women like Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, and Letitia Wright. Women were the forefront of regality and toughness in Wakanda that showed black women in a light where they don’t need the help of a man. King T’Challa’s security consisted of an all-female militia who was already ready for whatever. The strength represented by the all-female militia gives black women a feeling that their own toughness and bravery is validated through their actions.

Lupita Nyong’o (via Wikimedia Commons)

Not only does the outright bravery and fortitude provide new black queens to look up to but the representation of dark-skinned men and women was more than apparent in the film. Dark-skinned black women have not been the forefront of Hollywood media due to colorism, but this has improved in recent years. The beauty in “Black Panther” is seeing all of those faces that look just like yours on the big screen. A positive, prosperous representation of your race on the big screen shouldn’t be something we have to beg for, but Ryan Coogler and Marvel allowed for this milestone in media to be achieved. By no means is this the first all-black casted film, but the impact is great because of its timeliness.

Khala Corley, age 21, has seen the film three times and says she “really enjoyed seeing darker skin represented on film…everyone was beautiful and embraced their natural hair. The costume designer was a black woman and it’s nice to see someone in my field flourishing that looks like me.”

No One’s Perfect

The world is pretty messed up. Optimal social issues like racism, oppression, and dehumanization are often brushed under the rug or spoken about behind closed doors. Ryan Coogler and the cast of “Black Panther” do an excellent job of discussing these issues through the film itself. Eric Stephens, aka “Killmonger,” was portrayed as the “aggressive black man” stereotype who really just wanted change for his people. Though he was shown as the aggressor he was not shown as the enemy. Instead, T’Challa was the enemy according to the man himself, Chadwick Boseman.

Killmonger was a victim of his environment and in turn, wanted to use the same forces as his oppressors to regain leverage around the world. T’Challa’s excessive technological resources was a beacon of hope in Killmonger’s eyes. The discussion of elitism and colorism amongst the black community was present in these moments between T’Challa and Killmonger. The many layers of the black identity were presented in this film both subtly and right in your face. “Black Panther” used it’s Marvel platform to discuss the multidimensional aspects of black people and the issues we not only face as being marginalized but the own issues we have amongst each other undisputed.

The cast of Black Panther (via Wikimedia Commons)

With the success of “Black Panther,” it should be pretty clear that not everyone wants to see the same faces over and over again. The same films that show the world being saved by a white hero. Stan Lee’s “Black Panther” comics will forever be immortalized as the first creation of a black superhero and now as a monumental marker of the exploration of the black narrative on the global scale.

***By the way, if you haven’t heard the soundtrack to “Black Panther” please go give it a listen. The soundtrack was composed by Kendrick Lamar, and the films major moments can be captured through the lyrics on the album.

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