‘Black Panther’ is Perfect Example of Why We Need Diversity in Movies
I haven't been this excited about a new superhero franchise in a while. From the trailers (and his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War), Black Panther was something completely different from what we've seen before. This is a guy who has more money than Iron Man, a fighting style that rivals Captain America, and is an actual King to the most technologically advanced society on the planet.
If you're just here for a review of the movie, I'll say this: the movie is 100% as good as any movie Marvel has put out and, in some regards, it's better. They've taken a character that not a lot of people were familiar with and turned his film release into a box-office shattering event. Every future Marvel film should follow the blueprint established by Black Panther. You can have a compelling origin story and a sympathetic villain. You can go to (literally) different places and get the audience invested in a entirely different culture. Black Panther is an incredible film and one everyone should see.
With that said, I'd be doing the film a disservice if I didn't mention how important this movie is to the African-American community. It's an incredible display of African culture. Even though Wakanda is a fictional place, they infuse culture from actual places in Africa. They have characters with lip-disks and the royal guard is comprised of warrior women. The costumes are all inspired by traditional African styles, albeit with a bit of Vibranium thrown in. This movie is important because it shows how successful and how compelling a movie can be when you go outside the box. The cast and characters are 99% African-American. It's super cool to see this in a big-budget superhero movie.
The role that race plays in the film (and the importance of it outside the film) has been divisive with some. And that is unfortunate. After viewing the film, I went on Facebook and saw someone posting how they didn't want to see Black Panther because it seemed "overhyped." That's an opinion someone can have. There are tons of movies that were hyped-up only to not turn out very good. However, when I went deeper into the comment thread, I was greeted by thinly-veiled racism as to why this person didn't want to see Black Panther.
Normally, I wouldn't engage someone being so close-minded and ignorant, but I decided to turn this into a teaching moment. It went about as well as you think it would which is we aren't friends now. If you're the kind of person that feels threatened because of the diversity in this movie (and the fact that there only two white characters in the entire film), you need to take a good look at yourself and figure out why that bothers you. You're going to miss out on a lot of cool stuff if you stick to that mindset.
Black Panther is important because it gives black kids someone to look up to. Finally, they've been represented in a big-budget Marvel movie. The way that other kids have looked up to Captain America for almost a decade, now black kids have someone to look up to that looks like them; someone who shares their culture. It's incredible.
Black Panther shows why diversity in film is so crucial. Yes, there have been movies in the past that have had primarily African-American casts, but a lot of those are the typical "hood" movies. Those movies are great but than you have a film like Moonlight or Black Panther that tell the stories no one else is telling. That's what I want. I want more diversity because I want to see stories I haven't seen. I want to explore other cultures. Hopefully, Black Panther is just the beginning.