Why Black People Are Reacting So Positively To Marvel's 'Black Panther'
The trailer for Marvel's 2018 film 'Black Panther' dropped 2 days ago and set the internet, especially Black Twitter on fire. For good reason, as of the writing of this, the trailer has garnered over 17.4 million views in a little under 2 days. That's better than the teaser trailers for films like Spiderman: Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
The hype is very real.
There are legit reasons why Black Panther is being received so well. For starters, the trailer is amazing. The cinematography and art design are rich, colorful, exotic and some of the environments are gorgeous. I love the open savannas that can be seen in a couple shots with the sky in the background as well.
More important than the beauty of a large budget, black people have been wanting a film starring a black superhero for years. Wesley Snipes tried to get a Black Panther movie made back in the 90's before making the first Blade film. While Blade was definitely a good movie and kick-started the superhero genre, Marvel never really claimed it like that and the Blade films aren't part of the MCU. Not to mention the last Blade film came out in 2004.
So Black Panther is right on time and represents a character that isn't anyone's sidekick. That's another reason why black people like the character so much. Not to knock the Falcon, War Machine or Baron Mordo in 'Doctor Strange,' but T'Challa is the ruler of a nation and the richest character in the Marvel Universe. Richer than Tony Stark even! He controls a precious resource called vibranium that makes him nearly indestructible with really no other match.
T'Challa is surrounded by powerful women who can hold their own known as the Dora Milaje. Amazons in their own right (we see you Wonder Woman), the Dora Milaje are deadly and have access to some of the most advanced weaponry on the planet. You know if their job is to protect the Black Panther, then they HAVE to be badasses.
Before the premiere of the trailer, the teaser poster for the film dropped and a lot of people compared it to the picture of Huey P. Newton where you see him sitting in a wicker chair holding a staff in one hand and a gun in the other. I honestly just think they wanted a picture of T'Challa looking regal on a throne, but one has to wonder if there isn't some level of homage being paid. The original Black Panther Party was created in 1966, the same year Marvel's Black Panther made his first appearance in Fantastic Four #52. However, Marvel's Black Panther was created in April of '66 whereas the BPP was founded six months later in October of '66. So the character himself has nothing to do with the actual Black Panther Party. The name still means something though and it's important that the Black Panther was the first black superhero created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby before they created any others. T'Challa is a noble character, a good leader who wants to do right by his people. He's not an African warlord/tyrant or a Somali pirate, he's a leader of leaders. He is routinely trusted to solve the most complex of problems in the Marvel Universe and usually outsmarts his enemies.
I can't wait for this film and a lot of people on social media agree with me. I'm expecting at least $130 million+ on opening weekend.
I don't look up to superheroes and other fictional characters, but many people do...especially children. Some people want superhero characters to fantasize about and I think it's important to understand why groups respond so well to movies like Black Panther (or how women have responded to Wonder Woman). Black people are like "finally, a movie in Africa that isn't on some bullshit with an all-black cast of ass-kickers."
Last year I was writing review articles for Ta-Nahesi Coates' new Black Panther run. I stopped due to other more important topics grasping my attention, but I now see that I have to pick up where I left off. Subscribe to the Black and Intellectual mailing list so you'll know when the new review article has been posted.