While superheroes in movies sure come in all shapes and sizes, they didn’t always come in all colours or genders. They were all mostly male, monochromatic characters with a bloated sense of self-importance and righteousness.
Then, last year, Wonder Woman transcended the pages of comic books to become a deeply inspiring cultural phenomenon. Not only was Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman the first female superhero to get her own movie in either of the two shared universes from rivals DC and Marvel, she also lassoed the first female director of a studio superhero movie.
This Friday, the release of Marvel’s Black Panther will mark major cinematic milestones for African, African-American and popular culture. It is the first film in Marvel’s — now decade-old — Cinematic Universe to feature a black lead and a black director. And going by its early reviews and predictions, we may be in for another bonafide cultural phenomenon.
Chadwick Boseman stars as Black Panther aka T’Challa, the king of the wealthy African nation of Wakanda, a technologically advanced modern metropolis enriched by a mineral with extraterrestrial origins. In the Ryan Coogler-directed film, this futuristic land represents a fantasy of an Africa unsullied by white colonialism and exploitation. Lupita Nyong‘o, who plays the Wakandan warrior spy, Nakia in the film, said at the premiere, “Marvel has a way of really affecting popular culture, and to have that popular culture informed with things that are of African origin…is powerful. Hopefully it changes the general idea of what being an African is. Too often times we see Africa as a place that is wanting, and here it’s a place that you want to go.”
Watch the trailer for Black Panther below:
Wait and watch.>