The Black Panther film is the first Marvel movie focusing on predominately Black characters and featuring a predominately Black cast. The main character has been in Marvel Comics since 1966, with his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. Black director Ryan Coogler understands just how important this movie is to our culture, and he’s using it to create discussions about race and racism.

Here are a few ways that Black Panther helps us understand race in our culture and how it will strategically #MakeBlackHistory.

1. Casting Matters

The typical experience for a Black moviegoer is that most movies have a mostly white cast. At most, there will be a small sprinkling of people of color, and perhaps one or two Black characters. Black Panther has turned this on its head by having an almost entirely Black cast. In fact, previews show us only two white characters: one, an aloof lawman played by Martin Freeman, and another played by Andy Serkis who is a villainous henchman.

There were many humorous responses to the casting, with some internet commentators noting that these two Lord of the Rings veterans are the “Tolkien” white guys for the film. However, the casting has also created serious conversations about race in movies. Some white moviegoers seemed confused at seeing so little of themselves in the previews for this big, blockbuster movie. Of course, this is Coogler’s point: that’s how Black moviegoers feel watching nearly every film! And switching the paradigm is one way that Black Panther will #MakeBlackHistory.

2. Representation Matters

Superheroes capture the imagination of children at an early age. When we ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, we are typically thinking of their future careers. However, kids waste no time saying they want to be a superhero. Sadly, there are few Black onscreen superheroes for them to emulate.

Blade was the last onscreen Black superhero that was a big hit, and these R-rated movies were out of reach for kids. Other attempts at Black superheroes were usually just drawn-out jokes, like Robert Townsends’ Meteor Man or Damon Wayans’ Blankman. Will Smith did a good job as Hancock, but the whole point of his character is that he spends most of the movie as a lazy, alcoholic mess. With Black Panther, we are finally getting a movie that kids can see with a positive Black character who is heroic through and through, another way that Black Panther will #MakeBlackHistory. Finally, a new generation of kids will want to be a Black superhero when they grow up! We also expect Black children will be inspired by technology and embrace coding as a winning opportunity.

3. Black Music Matters

Hip-hop is a major part of Black culture, producing some of the hottest songs and coolest singers. Director Ryan Coogler understood that if the Black Panther character was going to represent Black culture, he’d need an absolutely killer soundtrack in his corner.

Fans were thrilled to hear that the soundtrack is headlined by King Kendrick himself. He is accompanied on this track by Future, James Blake, and Jay Rock. Not only does this guarantee that the movie soundtrack will be fire, but it means that mainstream audiences (the kinds who go to every Marvel movie but don’t know much about Black music) are going to get a crash course in Black artists. We predict more than a few people are going to walk out of their theaters downloading King Kendrick, which is a fun and sneaky way of spreading Black music and culture to the world. We always say, you don’t have to be Black to #BuyBlack!

4. Feminism Matters – #BlackGirlMagic

Most of our attention has been on the Black Panther (played by Chadwick Boseman) and his villain, Erik Killmonger (played by Michael B. Jordan). However, recent TV spotlights have given us a larger glimpse of the Dora Milaje, who are the female bodyguards of the King of Wakanda.

Director Coogler has put strong Black women to the forefront in this movie. This simple move highlights our need for more strong women of color on the big screen. It all goes back to representation, and this gives us our first strong Black female characters in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes, #BlackGirlMagic is represented.

5. Black Money Matters

The number of views to the trailer and ticket presales for Black Panther are off the charts! The film is expected to be one of the biggest grossing movies in Marvel’s history. From films like Get Out to Black Panther, the power of the #BuyBlack Movement and our $1.2 trillion in annual spending is represented. No longer can Hollywood ignore the fact that #BlackMoneyMatters. Black Panther and Director Coogler should pave the way for more films that better represent Black culture and pride.

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25 Comments
  • Alsusia Collins
    Is there anyone besides Vivica Fox, trying to direct something back to our black communities from this films success? Since this film is grossing the highest ticket sales, has any executive of any kind, from any entity, actually used this economic power exhibited to help us? Seems all this economic strength is still basically helping the rich and powerful.
    February 14, 2018 Reply
    • Kevin D Haggard, Sr.
      Wow! You are on point. It's always good to see positive representatives of African people, However, I feel that our excitement needs to be brought down a few notches since most of the proceeds will not be enriching our beloved Black nation and culture. It is my sincere desire to see the day when Black film makers are able to finance and produce similar films like Black Panther and other non-fiction depictions. When that day arrives, we will be able to more better control how we are depicted and use the proceeds for our own uplift.
      February 15, 2018 Reply
    • Sekou
      I cannot understand why we are wasting so much time and energy discussing racism. We must breathe deeply and energize our shackras( Shaka) and break the spell. There are no "white" or "black" human beings. We continue to commit the sin (missing the mark) of judging human beings by their colors of their skin and not the content of their characters. This illusive human race is like unto an ego that is fighting against its innate inferiority by using spells, evil and downright violence to its advantage to transpose that which it fears unto its counterpart.. The dictionary is the greatest book of spell can can define you into a false sense of superiority or its other extreme inferiority. Here we are in the eternal now where the past, present and future occupy the same space in the infinite universe and we are misdirected by words ( spells) to believe in a heaven or hell that we accept by faith and does not exist. How can you believe hell is burning for ever and ever, wow that is the stretch of the imagination by an overdose of fear. We have being going through this transformation forever and ever, losing consciousness as we go to sleep to renew our minds and to get a new birth in creating for eternity. The catipillar knows it cycle and we think they don't have sense as we do. The blue prints are in the stars and only the chosen can read them.
      February 15, 2018 Reply
      • See
        Thank You.
        February 16, 2018 Reply
      • Babe R
        You don’t know the Universe or the laws of reciprocity. Perhaps when you’re more mature, you’ll have greater understanding of Biblical lessons and prophecy.
        March 5, 2018 Reply
      • Caralyn Percy
        Dang! Who are you, Seku. Such common sense and so well put.Only thing I would leave out is disrespect for another's religious beliefs. Why? Because of this quote which I had to read a few times and think over what it is saying to finally get it and say to myself, "Yes, this is right and this would cut back on the 'religious gang banging' for sure."Here it is."Faith" and "belief" do not necessarily surrender to logic: they cannot even be declared to be illogical. They can be things quite apart." [from Precept 18 - Respect the Religious Beliefs of Others www.thewaytohappiness.org]But I agree with much of what you are saying. Thank you so much.
        April 4, 2018 Reply
    • Jay
      I agree! How much of this "so-called wealth" will be spent with "bona-fide" Black-owned businneses like those found in CBP's Black Pages Worldwide?
      February 15, 2018 Reply
    • Jay
      I agree. How much of this "so-called wealth" is actually going to be spent with bona-fide Black-owned businesses like those listed in CBP's Black Pages Worldwide?
      February 15, 2018 Reply
    • joseph jones
      Well Alsusia,With all due respect this is a conversation you should direct towards your black churches and religious institutions as a whole seeing as how they bring in 14 million dollars a week collectively and NONE of them are reinvesting a dime of it back into the their own communities. The black church has been around long enough to make more than enough money to have built schools, hospitals and black owned/operated banks all across the US. So before you start judging producers like Ryan Cooglar you'd be better served to direct your questions to them...
      February 15, 2018 Reply
    • Morris Williams
      Your goal is our goal, but ignoring race while it remains the principle ticket of entry or rejection would leave our present and future in disarray. Stay blessed
      February 15, 2018 Reply
    • Morris Williams
      You are right about a discussion of whether the black rich provide the financial support to local black organizations fighting for justice in every area. While I can appreciate the NAACP, Urban League, and other such groups, it has always been those blacks that these groups don't like who give the most support from the street. Every black person whose income is upper middle class and up should send donations to these underfunded black groups
      February 15, 2018 Reply
    • Ryedell
      That has been my only issue, yes I’m pro black but the power is in the money. Yes our black people will be inspired but that black dollar not gonna circulate in our community
      February 16, 2018 Reply
  • B. Joseph
    Keep it 100 as we always should. I'm beyond excited to see a black panther! I do hope all of this positivity is represented accordingly!
    February 15, 2018 Reply
    • SHELBY. R
      WELL SAID ... B.JOSEPH
      February 24, 2018 Reply
  • IceBoiBlack
    Will Smith Was Hancock.
    February 15, 2018 Reply
    • Keigh
      Lol...thanks for correcting that, I was waiting for someone to correct it.
      February 15, 2018 Reply
  • wes lee
    It was Robert Townsend that played "Meteor Man" folks.
    February 15, 2018 Reply
  • Derrick Jones
    Thank God for, this Film.We must STAY on one accord.
    February 15, 2018 Reply
  • Keigh
    My whole family is representing!!!! We’re dressing in African Garb and making it a statement because we understand how important this movie will be to our history. Filling two rows, Thank you!!
    February 15, 2018 Reply
  • Ranza Garr Trotter
    A very influential role model in the Los Angeles area and beyond was Leon T. Garr. At the age of 76, Mr. Garr used his personal savings to save, one of the largest Black-owned savings and loan institutions in the western United States. Today the bank is known as OneUnited, which became the first commercial bank West of the Mississippi owned by African-Americans. Mr. Garr passed away at the age of 103. Our father, a role model went on to establish himself as a superhero in the Los Angeles African-American community. We regret that his family did not receive not one acknowledgement from corporate or the local branch of One United Bank.
    February 15, 2018 Reply
  • Ryedell
    I just hope we take this same pride into our workplace, schools, cities, organizations and families
    February 16, 2018 Reply
  • Keke491
    Let's get real here we all know what Black Panthers stands for in the world today. And you're showing that in the movie with only two white people. I seen a true movie on how The Black Panthers was formed, and they are not nice people in my book. A superhero is someone that's trying to change bad into good, and The Black Panther is not in that category. Making a movie will not change that. How you trying to make a good name for the black community, when you put down your own race saying Will Smith was a drunk in Hancock no good. If you want this new generation of blacks to succeed, and survive in this world teach them right from wrong, teach them to have respect for higher authorities, teach them to have their own mind,to be a leader, and not a follower. How will this #Black Panther superhero movie help the black culture now, and in the future? This movie is not making a strong statement for me to let my daughter go see it. I hate this black/white stuff let's see who can do better then the next needs to stop. We don't need superhero's to cloud our children minds we need leadership instead. I hope the message your sending is not for the wrong reasons, but for a positive reason.
    February 16, 2018 Reply
    • Ty
      Keke491...I agree with you that the whole black vs white thing is divisive and bad for building a bridge between people of different cultures. The only points you raise that I would challenge are those on the Black Panthers, Hancock and leadership in the black community. 1) The black panther party was started to defend the civil rights of Blacks that were being murdered by cops (see the 13th Amendment documentary on Netflix) and you'll gain more perspective on the BP party. I can personally tell you that I've had cops place drugs in my first car while I was having a water balloon fight in front of my house 2) Hancock was a poor representation of a Super Hero because he was not an honorable person...seeing positive images of a role model is important for young folks. Think if Superman was depicted as a drunk loser like Hancock. Ultimately, every young person also needs to see successful representation of idols that look like them. 3) When it comes to leadership in the black community I agree that it is needed but unfortunately most of the leaders in the black community has either killed or jailed (I.e. MLK, Malcolm X, Hewey P Newton, Fred Hampton...just to name a few). Overall, The big issue in the black community is that we've inherited very shitty systems (education, judicial, political, economical, etc) that will always put Blacks at a disadvantage to the majority in this country.
      March 6, 2018 Reply

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