The Importance of Black Panther

Large+movie+posters+for+the+movie+%22Black+Panther%22+have+been+featured+all+around+the+world.+This+poster+in+London+specifically+features+Chadwick+Boseman%2C+The+Black+Panther%2C+and+Lupita+Nyong%27o%2C+Nakia
Large movie posters for the movie

Large movie posters for the movie "Black Panther" have been featured all around the world. This poster in London specifically features Chadwick Boseman, The Black Panther, and Lupita Nyong'o, Nakia

Large movie posters for the movie "Black Panther" have been featured all around the world. This poster in London specifically features Chadwick Boseman, The Black Panther, and Lupita Nyong'o, Nakia

Mini Vice, Staff Reporter

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  Ever since I first heard that the movie, “Black Panther” was coming out I was super excited. About two years ago after “Captain America: Civil War” came out, there was a small scene after the credits that read, “The Black Panther will return.” After seeing Chadwick Boseman, actor, make his debut performance as the Black Panther in the Captain America movie, I was so excited I was almost bouncing in the movie theater seat. A movie with a predominantly black cast? Sign me up! T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, is one of the main roles in the movie. He focuses on finding the killer of his father, T’Chaka, who in turn ended up placing the mantle of king and protector of Wakanda, a fictional African nation, upon his head.

  The Black Panther movie starts off seemingly right where “Captain America: Civil War” had left off. T’Challa is still settling into the role of Black Panther and King of Wakanda, which is home to the material of vibranium, which was largely untouched by colonialism. Vibranium allows Wakanda to be one of the richest and technologically advanced nations in the world.

  The main conflict of the movie occurs when T’Challa is trying to protect the country’s collection of vibranium against Klaw who seems to have some sort of “Find my Vibranium” locator app. This is where Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, comes in. The main antagonist of the movie as well as the protagonist’s blood cousin who was born in America, but is Wakandian at heart.

  Erik wants the throne to help all of his oppressed black brothers and sisters around the world and T’Challa just wants to make sure that all of his people, the Wakandians, stay protected.

  The debate is one that is currently going on in our country and that is part of what makes this movie so real. Should minorities arm themselves and take what they deserve just like the colonists of England did in the past or should they keep their heads down and keeping hoping for a better day that may never come?

  To better understand the character and the movie as a whole, it would help to divulge into the background and history of the creation of the Black Panther.

  The Black Panther was originally created in 1966 during the Civil Rights Era at about the same time that the Black Panther Party was rising. It wasn’t made to be an alter ego; It was a formal title. This superhero was an expression about what black people wanted and craved during that time. He was strong, educated, and already in charge.

  At a time where an African American family would have as little as 10 times less than a caucasian family, The Black Panther stood for more than just a king with claws.

  As one of the most successful movies in theaters to date, the impact it left on the people who saw it, was one that won’t be soon forgotten.

  “There are so many things that people see about our culture on the news that is negative, but a movie like this shows how we are all kings and queens just for being black. Family is a huge part in who we are and there is more to us than just killing and selling drugs.” Dionna Cephas, senior, stated.

  For people of color, the only superhero or comic book movies where a black superhero was featured was the likes of Hancock, Blade, and not long ago Luke Cage. Recently, the movie industry has learned that not only can POC (people of color) take the main protagonist roles, but they can thrive with them.

  “We are breaking free of the comfortable shadow of sidekicks and sacrifices, while soaring into our technological future and honoring history and tradition. I can see myself and my people’s destiny reflected in the empowering mirror of Afrofuturism.” Alex Johnson, senior, commented.

  In a recent 2017 study, Stacy L. Smith at USC Annenberg School for Communication found that in the top 100 movies of 2016 that only 13.6% of the speaking roles were black and 31.4% of the speaking roles were females.

  Representation matters and it influences people’s life choices. If you never see anyone who looks like you as a successful human being, what are you supposed to think you are going to turn out like?

  Many black celebrities have acknowledged the importance of this representation and are doing their best to share the experience. Lupita Nyong’o, actor and Nakia in “Black Panther”,  paid for 1,200 children to go and see the movie. Serena Williams, tennis player, paid for a private club entitled, “Black Girls’ Code” to see the movie. The Boys and Girls Club of America partnered with Dwyane Wade, basketball player, and Gabrielle Union, actress, for all the children in multiple cities to go see the movie. Kendrick Lamar, musician and creator of the Black Panther soundtrack, paid for 1,000 kids to go see the movie. These successful black creators know that the movie is not only inspiring, but also historically accurate in the many quotes and scenes that refer to the colonial past of America and Africa.

 In a closing scene, after the large fight scene, T’Challa tells Killmonger that he can still save him after a deadly hit. Killmonger replies, “Why, so you can lock me up? Nah. Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, ‘cause they knew death was better than bondage.”

  The colonial undertones were clearly captured, but so was the symbolism in the ethnic hairstyles and clothing options. In the movie, everyone wears natural hairstyles. Afropunk is the common look throughout the movie. There are five tribes in the nation of Wakanda and each one had a different look. It contributed to the overall feel to the movie, showing the viewers that combs and presses weren’t going to be used. Black hair is beautiful and versatile from Michael B. Jordan’s dreadlocks with the fade to Letitia Wright’s, Shuri in “Black Panther” braided buns. When it comes to the costume choices, Ruth E. Carter masters the style of afrofuturism and afropunk. She ended up creating over 700 different costumes for the movie. From the red armored outfits of the secret service of the Black Panther King that resembles the Himba & Maasai tribes  and even to Lupita’s spy outfit that is modeled after the Suri tribe.

  Not only was “Black Panther” successful culturally, but it was financially as well.

  According to Forbes Magazine, in its third week of domestic release, “Black Panther” earned $65.7 million, which is the 3rd largest weekend of all time after “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” which made $90 million and “Avatar” which made $69 million.

  The “Black Panther” movie will most likely end up between 5th and 7th place on the biggest US grosser of all time. It has already passed “Finding Dory”, which was in 10th place.

  Overall the success of “Black Panther” won’t soon be forgotten and yes, maybe Hollywood will learn. Black representation is important, not only to the African American race, but for the success of the human race as a whole.

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