The upcoming “Black Panther” film already embodies #BlackExcellence before release

By Dante Gonsalves

This month, Marvel Studio’s “Black Panther” will be gracing the screens of theatres nationwide.

Ever since the character’s on-screen debut in “Captain America: Civil War” in 2016, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) were excited to hear that the mythos behind the “Black Panther” character would be explored in his first solo outing in 2018.

Since the trailer and movie posters have reached the internet, fans anticipating the film are already deeming it as #BlackExcellence on social media platforms due to it being the most pre-sold Marvel film, having a black director and primarily black cast.

Chadwick Boseman will star as the titular hero alongside Hollywood’s current elite black actors Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, Forest Whitaker and Daniel Kaluuya.

Created in 1966 as the first major black character in mainstream American comics, “Black Panther” is the king and protector of the fictional African country Wakanda. The country is more technologically advanced than other first-world countries, which was used as a creative way to criticize the historical impacts of imperialism on Africa.

Stan Lee, who co-created the character, has even mentioned that the creation of Black Panther was in response to the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s.

Due to its cultural significance and relatability amongst readers, “Black Panther” helped open the door in the comic book industry for even more black characters to be created, like Falcon and Luke Cage.

It’s only appropriate for “Black Panther” to create the same impact on the big screen. Even though this is Marvel’s first film to feature a primarily black cast, it isn’t the first black superhero Hollywood production.

The 90s birthed an era of black superhero films, but many could not live up to the reputation that the Black Panther comic book had left behind. In 1993, “The Meteor Man,” grossing a low $8 million, created a comedic take on superheroes that wasn’t appropriate for the first ever black superhero film.

The beloved basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal even dawned the identity of a superhero in the 1997 DC adaptation “Steel, which was received as one of the worst and cheesiest comic book movies of all time, grossing $1.7 million.

By this time, black superhero films were considered jokes and had no potential for success.

1998 established change in the black superhero genre with the film “Blade,” based off the Marvel Comics’ character. “Blade”, starring Wesley Snipes, features the black anti-hero who has dedicated his life to hunting down vampires.

With the film’s release, it became an instant success in the box-office grossing over $130 million worldwide and lamented a new status for black superheroes. It even provided a rejuvenation for comic book films that even helped bring the “X-Men” and “Spider-Man” franchises alive before the MCU films came around.

“Blade” showcased a new direction of seriousness for black superhero films that didn’t involve comedy or bad storytelling, and overall helped with the creation of the numerous comic book films we all know and love today. Without the success of “Blade,” there would be no conception for the idea behind the current MCU.

“Black Panther” is going to be a game changer for the comic book film industry, and hopefully, like “Blade,” will allow the industry to put faith in diverse superheroes and characters.

Looking at last year’s success with  “Wonder Woman” and the potential for more female-lead superhero films, “Black Panther” will only help to bring more heroes of color on screen in the future, which is truly exciting to think of. Make sure to check out “Black Panther” when it hits theatres on Feb. 16.

1 Comment on "The upcoming “Black Panther” film already embodies #BlackExcellence before release"

  1. Guillermo Villar | January 31, 2018 at 8:15 PM | Reply

    Thanks for the history lesson on diversity in superheroes. Very interesting!

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