As a child in school, I rarely reached for the black or brown Crayola crayons in my superhero colouring have a lifetime’s worth of Halloweens where I weighed how often I could or should dress as the white superheroes. I couldn’t find ones that looked like me both outside of and underneath the mask. An entire generation of children will now know that a black superhero, society, imagination and power can exist right alongside Peter Parker, Steve Rogers and Bruce Wayne. An entire generation of children will not know what it feels like to not see themselves reflected back on costume racks, colouring books or movie screens. We’re at a pivotal time where these characters and stories are coming not out of permission or obligation, but necessity.
we now also have unapologetically Afrocentric Luke Cage series and shows like Cloak and Dagger, Black Lightning and the recently-announced Netflix series Raising Dion (co-produced and – starring Michael B. Jordan about a single mother discovers her young son has magical powers) in various stage of production. And now, finally, we have a Black Panther movie, one set to open on thousand of screens and get the full Marvel marketing-blitz treatment.
What happens now determines what happens to the rest of the world.”
Nakie to T’Challa:
Only you can decide what kind of King you want to be.”
Drector Ryan Coogler and Co. make it clear that we will be watching a black superhero fully in control and completely occupying the center-stage spotlight. Watch Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War, and you’ll see a charismatic character who fills a void in the conflicted do-gooder group. Watch the new trailer, however – the one that dropped yesterday for his stand-alone film that hits theaters February 16th – and you’ll see someone with the arrogance of Shaft, the coolness of Obama and the hot-headed impulsiveness of Kanye West. This T’Challa is accessible, awe-inspiring and perhaps most importantly, human. “I think the question that I’m trying to ask and answer in Black Panther is, ‘What does truly mean to be African?'” the filmmaker recently told Rolling Stone. “The MCU has set itself in the real world as much as possible – so what does it mean for T’Challa to move around as this black man in a movie reality that tries to be a real world?”
- Directed by Ryan Coogler, ‘Black Panther’ is the first Marvel film to focus on a black superhero
- With a budget of $200 million, it cost $20 million more than ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ to make and $20 million less than ‘The Avengers’
- The majority of the action takes place in Wakanda, a fictional country in east Africa which has made huge technological advancements thanks to its secret source of Vibranium
- Following the death of his father, Black Panther returns to Wakanda to take his place as King but faces a challenge from an unknown outsider
- The soundtrack was curated by Kendrick Lamar and features SZA, James Blake and Travis Scott.
All of which means that, after decades of trying to nail the modern black superhero, we finally getting what we’ve asked for – and getting it right. This journey hasn’t been without effort. The Blaxploitation films in the 1970s gave black audiences their own heroes: Shaft, Cleopatra Jones, Coffy, Slaughter, Foxy Brown. They were inner-city vigilantes, detectives, nurses and ex-cons that waged anti-establishment wars against authority, drugs, gangs and corruption – one-man (or woman) hit-squads operating against the real-world political backdrop of Nixon’s “law and order” campaign. It has been someone’s time before again and again and again. But next spring will belong to Wakanda much like the summer belonged to Wonder Woman. We’ve been waiting to see ourselves onscreen, flying through the air and running across buildings and dodging laserblasts from bearded colonialists our entire lives. The future is Ryan Coogler, Chadwick Boseman, T’Challa, Black Panther. The future is here on February 16th.