Black Panther and Representation

Black Panther and Representation

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*Thanos Decimates WordPress Content and T’Challa in early March. Time Travel will bring my content back to former glory—-Dodson

Marvel shattered box office records with the historic release of Black Panther during Black History Month.  Black and Geek culture hit a milestone with the creation of Wakanda; the film mixed culture, fantasy, identity, and science to successfully bring underrepresented markets to the forefront of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Currently it is the highest grossing Black film ever, the third highest grossing Marvel film, and in the top 20 best films of all time. Marvel has moved the goal post on media representation of marginalized people, showing that we have surpassed the racial barriers that once told us it wasn’t possible for blockbusters with non white leads.

 

Black Panther isn’t Marvel’s first black superhero. Blade and Luke Cage were Marvel’s pioneers; Heimdall, War Machine, Falcon, Dethklok, and Nick Fury all preceded Black Panther’s heroics.The Blade Trilogy was Marvel’s firebrand for getting their studio rights back while season 1 of Luke Cage had fans buzzing. After years of being sidekicks and associates of the Avengers, this film stands out amongst this crowd because Wakanda exists outside the constraints of Black existence in the West, directly speaking on slavery, colonialism, genocide, war, Jim Crow, segregation, civil rights, segregation, etc. Not only did the film address these issues in its own way, but it did so with a majority Black and African cast.

 

Outside of Marvel, black superheroes took years to develop this level of awesome. Meteor Man and Blank Man were slapstick comedies set in an urban setting with black cast, yet they did little to bring respect towards Black representation in mainstream media. Spawn and Blade were the first serious black superhero films, yet they were confined in gothic spaces that were as mainstream as mayonnaise. Black actors obtained prominent roles in films like Hancock, Catwoman, Fox’s X-Men, but it wasn’t until Luke Cage and Jessica Jones that one can clearly see the direction being set by parts of Hollywood .Black Panther’s continued the discussion of that Luke Cage heralded, in a new age of media representation.

 

Black Panther proves to be one of the biggest film events in American history, similar to Roots or Lord of The Rings. Afro-futurists led the art direction by fusing pan africanism and Marvel’s storytelling to create Wakanda.Director Ryan Coogler creates archetypes that fits everyone’s inner warrior, scientist,spy, queen, or king; the actors were casted marvelously.The biggest impact was the memorable MCU villain, as Loki is the only other who comes to mind, making Killmonger a challenge to Wakanda and the world. Killmonger represents revolutionary black militancy, even homaging to Huey Newton famous throne picture, and his mission brings up the tough question of how to handle hundreds of years of oppression, repression, and depression. T’Challa addresses Killmonger’s concerns by going to the ancestral planes and confronting the previous kings.

 

Artistically Black Panther will be remembered as a pivotal moment in cinemas history.This film marks the passing of the racial mountain Langston Hughes may have been talking about in his famous poem. Mark Dery asked the leading afrofuturist in the beginning of the movement what defined afrofuturism. Hughes’s  of “not going outside your race”, didn’t affect the profit margin at al, as black art often is watered down for mainstream audiences. Dery defines afrofuturism as,  Speculative Fiction that treats african american themes and african american concerns in the context of the 20th-21st century-and more generally, African American signification that appropriate images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future. The film nears $1 billion, and the artist and writers should be looking forward to even more and more employment doing this type of production.

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