We’ve all experienced a time when you walk into a room or a building and feel very unrepresented, whether it’s a job you’ve applied for or an event you’ve been invited to…we’ve all been there! Well Ryan Coogler’s situation was no different when he walked into a comic store as a child. The young boy that was to direct iconic films such as Creed & Fruitvale Station walked into a comic store and as a comic book fan he requested something that he felt represented him in the best way possible. The shop owner was definitely not spoilt for choice when he pointed at none other than the Black Panther comics.
Once upon a time Black Panther was just a black superhero that never left the realms of a comic book however Black Panther was soon to become not just the first black superhero film to touch mainstream but a superhero that was to change more than some box office sale figures. Black Panther first made his appearance in Captain America: Civil War; where the character was played by Chadwick Boseman. Parts of the film was set in Wakanda (a fiction nation set in Africa) & it’s interesting because in Captain America Wakanda was actually set in Lagos, Nigeria however it was only right that with the inclusion of a number of different versions from previous runs that it would represent the whole of Africa.
With a predominantly black cast Black Panther was to be a stepping stone in the Marvel Universe especially with roots deriving from Africa. Marvel fans, superhero movie fans, the black community & more was to experience a movement that would change humanity forever. Coogler, passionate about the 18th film in the Marvel Universe made the decision to go back to the place where it all started as insisted by his wife. He was on a mission to communicate a true reflection of what Africa really was. No fakes & no gimics!
Having explored the concept of what it means to be African, Coogler knew there was depth in what he had to communicate through the film. Now we all know what it means to be African - from our parents dissing us in our language to our extravagant celebration tradition at parties. So to truly represent culture in the film there had to be elements of the music, the language, the clothing & the dialect all to make sure that the connection with the audience was authentic. Not just that but even down to the fighting scenes, the weapons used and the way conflict occurred displayed a feel of Africa.
This was a test not just for the director but for the characters as well. Chadwick Boseman playing the King of Wakanda; T’Challa, knew he was taking a step up from his appearance in Captain America. Chadwick knew how significant Black Panther was going to be to culture and introducing the character and its culture gave him a role to play that would influence others. We all must have heard people say that you will never achieve greatness if you don’t step out of your comfort zone, well I can vouch for that statement and I'm sure the cast could as well. Coogler provided a platform that would challenge the actors to get into their characters in the most effective manner for example; Michael B. Jordan who played a villain in the film had to challenge his ability to get into a dark character. Also Daniel Kaluuya who with many achievements since his performance in ‘Get Out’ played the chief of security & had the role of protecting Wakanda.
Throughout the film there is a sense of women empowerment which is communicated through characters played by Nupita Nyong’o & Leticia Wright. Themes such as this tie in with a number of issues we see in today’s society such as the debate on gender pay or female equality within workplaces. In addition, other themes in the film that were also representations of the current state of society at the moment are themes such as love, family, pride as well as a strong identity element. Heritage & culture also play a big part in the film which is visible throughout the film and reflects society in todays day and age.
I believe Black Panther had a role to play within our communities and societies, which is to have an impact on our outlook on life. I could predict that this film was going to be one of them key moments that will go down in history, one of them moments that would make one proud to be black - that we would tell our kids about when we grow older and we saw this at the respective world premieres. The USA and Europe hosted premieres that displayed a sense of unity in the atmosphere as event goers from the cast to industry to influencers gathered together where some dressed in full African attire. I can say on behalf of everyone that this was definitely a beautiful feeling and reviews from critics and bloggers told no different.
"Black Panther runs so much deeper than just being a Marvel film with an all-black cast.........a film that is genuinely spectacular"
Ore Abiona, OreViews
"Black Excellence at the Black Panther premiere. The film is flipping incredible......A must see."
"My mind is blown. My heart is full. I’m changed forever. #OneTribe"
Now, don’t get it twisted there is something for everyone in this film whether you’re a white middle class man or a single mother from the hood. The key themes and elements in this film will leave important messages clear enough to have a positive effect on any audience. Black Panther represents more than what any other superhero has represented in the past which is what makes it a powerful movement rather than just a fantasy fiction film. Black Panther and it’s world represent us, the people, but more specifically the black community. I believe, in fact I know Black Panther will kill box office figures & will go down as one of the best movies of all time. If there is one common thing that Black Panther will teach anyone it is that; united we stand and divided we fall.