Even I had to admit those memes were hilarious, #BlackTwitter for the win. I have to get in on this so I will be rocking the tuxedo James Earl Jones and Eddie Murphy wore in Coming to America; I know you all know what I am talking about. I am jumping back into my Black History bag and talking about the upcoming release of the next installment of Marvel Comics movies, Black Panther. With all the excitement surrounding this movie, its record-breaking sales of advanced tickets, the Black excellence spilling all over the place AND it being Black History Month, I would be remiss to not to talk about it. Before I kick this off let me start by saying, I am not a fan of superhero movies. I have never seen any of the Marvel or DC Comics movies. I never bought into it. Having said that, I had to do a little digging into Black Panther in order to fully understand the excitement of this premier and to be able to discuss this in detail with you. After what I’ve learned, I'm going to kick out that $17.50 and check this one out. My initial investigation discovered that Black Panther has outsold every previous superhero movie in advance ticket sales and broke Fandango’s presale record in the first 24 hours. That's huge! With the premier on the horizon, industry analysis are estimating the highly anticipated film to bring in $130 million or more its opening weekend. With all this excitement continuing to build I was still wondering why a movie would be generating such a buzz. It IS a superhero movie right? Since I am not a fan, I did some more research to get a better understanding and that's when things got REAL interesting.
Black Panther, as fans of the comic book series will know, is a part of the “Marvel Universe” which also hosts Captain American, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man. Spiderman and so on. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966, Black Panther tells the story of an African King/scientist, T’Challa, defender of the fictional nation of Wakanda. Black Panther is the first superhero of African descent in mainstream American comics. Before the Falcon, Luke Cage, or Green Lantern there was Black Panther. In movies, Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, made his first appearance in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. Lets pause for a second.
This is what caught my attention. The character of Black Panther debuted in the mid 1960s and showed a man of African descent in a position of power and capable of extraordinary things. Allow me to remind you of the state of Black America in the 1960s. We as a people were still in the midst of Jim Crow in the south, segregation, violence in the form of lynching and police brutality, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Vietnam War. Think about that... What kind of impact did seeing a Black man, real or imaginary, in a position of power and not struggling under the oppression of white America have on our community, our children in particular? As I continued to dig into this and even talked to a couple comic book fans I learned that Black Panther was nothing to play with! Some argued he was richer than Bruce Wayne, the billionaire who would become Batman and smarter than Tony Stark, the technological genius also known as Iron Man. Comic books are filled with rich white men who suffer some traumatic event and decide to fight crime. Here comes Black Panther, a wealthy black man defending his nation. I respect that.
Another interesting point is the Black Panther character appearing to take a stand on real world social injustice issues of that time. Did you know in the 1970s Marvel released “Panther vs. the Klan?” This 17-page story featured the Black Panther character battling and defeating the Ku Klux Klan and was considered highly controversial. I wonder why? SMH Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created Black Panther to address the lack of Black hero representation. Much respect to those two. Black Panther debuted just months before the founding of the Black Panther Party, and some fans of the comic and Black Panther historians have stated that the latter pulled its inspiration from the former. Now I don’t know about all that, but it does make for an interesting conversation piece.
Fast-forward to "Black Panther" the movie. Here we have an all-star cast and crew, from director to costuming, of Black excellence that will be able to tell a story of an African King, his people and his country. In order to gain a little more understanding I watched the trailer. What I expected to see was typical superhero stuff, and I was correct. There were huge explosions, fight scenes, fancy weapons, and people doing unrealistic things. What I also saw were my people in roles of royalty in a nation that wasn’t broken by poverty and systemic oppression. I saw women who were respected as Queens and fought along side their men as warriors. I saw men who defended their land and respected their traditions. What I learned was this is a major, mainstream film that will not show Africa as poor and destitute or its people as ignorant and subservient. I’m still not into superheroes, but I will be checking out "Black Panther" for the culture.
Jump down in the comments and let me know if you are going to see Black Panther, if you’re excited and why. If I missed some important facts about the Black Panther comic book series jump down in the comments and let me know. I'll be breaking out my Coming to America tux and going to see this movie, King Jaffe Joffer/Prince Hakeem style! Jump down in the comments and tell me what you will be wearing to the "Black Panther" premier. #WakandaForever