Marvel’s Black Panther is finally rolling into theaters with steam and anticipation built from months of hype, trailers, sneak peeks and interviews from the cast. While Black Panther for some may just be another chapter in Marvel movies, for the Marvel Cinematic Universe it represents a change in a fundamental status quo. February 15th marks a new chapter in the MCU with the rise of the Black Panther.
Chadwick Boseman’s reincarnation of Black Panther was last seen in theaters when he took the throne of Wakanda from his late father and made a forceful impact in the Marvel community after the events of Captain America: Civil War.
Jalen Carter, a current junior at Da Vinci Communications High School (DVC) and comic book enthusiast notes,“Seeing Black Panther in Civil War was exciting for me.” He then added, “He made a really big impact in the movie in terms of storytelling and action and definitely added a lot of depth to the film.”
In the first installment of the Black Panther franchise, T’challa returns to Wakanda after the events of Captain America: Civil War and the death of his father to succeed the throne and take his rightful place as king of his technologically-advanced nation.
Isaiah Cornelius, a current senior at DVC expressed his excitement for the film,“I think it’s early 100% score rating speaks for itself, the movie isn’t even out yet and it already has such a huge fanbase.”
Ryan Coogler, the director of Black Panther, told Empire Magazine that the experience was deeply personal for him, as he recalled his older cousin who was a major comic book fan and who influenced him directly. Coogler went on to say that he grew up a major X-Men fan, but he was looking for something that speaks directly to his demographic.
He then goes on to recount walking into a comic book store when he asked the clerk for a superhero who looked like him and the guy pointed him to Black Panther. Coogler said,“to have a dude with his own comic book named after him and he had this whole run and this pretty cool history– I thought it was amazing.”
The lifestyles of Black and African communities have long been degraded with countless negative stereotypes and misrepresentations in films and in the media. This dominant narrative has been discredited time and time again by the Black Panther comics.
“Sometimes growing up I wasn’t always able to relate to movies or TV shows because they never showed people who looked like me,” said Tekeste Tekeste, a junior at DVC and Native of Eritrea. “So seeing how popular Black Panther is while having cultural roots and paying homage to things I knew and grew up with makes me that much more excited to see it.”
Black Panther remains culturally and socially relevant in the Marvel Cinematic Universe because it explores the existence and relevance of other communities inside the universe but outside of America and Asgard. Despite being perceived as an isolationist, third world country, Wakanda continually triumphs extreme capitalistic values, white supremacy, and western imperialism.