The Significance of Black Panther

As audience members, we want to be able to connect with what we’re watching. To see the characters on screen and be able to identify with at least one of them. To understand them and their experiences. We want to see ourselves in them; in that movie.

For years, white audiences, especially men, have never had a problem with this. Most films, most actors, and most stories are written from white, male perspectives. That has just been the simple reality of film and media in the United States. However, in recent years, attitudes have been changing. The realization that representation on screen matters has become an issue in Hollywood and audiences have responded.

Black Panther is a step in the right direction. Unless your name is Will Smith, or you’re in a Tyler Perry movie, black actors are often cast in supporting roles. The opportunity to play a lead role does not come up as often as it should and it’s noticed on screen, but it’s even rarer to have an entirely black cast, or almost entirely, for a blockbuster. There is no doubt that Black Panther is made for black audiences and that is exactly what we need in 2018. It’s a great film and does justice to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, breaking records and taking its place as one of the best Marvel films in its history. It has become an opportunity for audiences to come together and celebrate a film.

Courtesy of Marvel Studios
Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Throughout Black Panther, the audience is able to enjoy themes of African tradition and mysticism. The vibrancy of the colors, designs, and costumes are on full display. The film honors the rich history and culture of Africa.

Kendrick Lamar’s soundtrack for this film is an even blend of rap and storytelling. It guides the story forward and compliments it. The album is worth listening to in its entirety, as the explicit lyrics could not be included in the movie.

The film is especially important for black women. The women in Black Panther, while all playing supporting roles, are independent, strong, and prominent characters. They are able to stand apart from the men in the movie and each bring their own qualities to the story. At no point do they rely on their male counterparts and, at times, they are proven to be stronger or wiser than some of the men.

Courtesy of Marvel Studios
Courtesy of Marvel Studios

It is my hope that we see these characters again, and again, in their own stories, and not just as supporting characters in other Marvel movies, such as the Avengers. It is my hope that black actors and filmmakers will continue to be recognized in Hollywood, allowing them to create more interesting and exciting films. It is my hope that women, especially women of color, will continue to be portrayed as strong and independent characters.

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