It’s finally here: Black Panther premiers worldwide this week!
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no comic book fanatic. My knowledge of the difference between the Marvel and DC Universes boils down to Justice League and X-Men, and I was never into any of the animated series growing up.
But, I distinctly remember every black and brown superhero I saw fly across my TV screen. Storm, Green Lantern, the Red Power Ranger, Cyborg, and Blade were among my favorites, and even though I didn’t understand the full scope of their powers or backstory, I was excited to see heroes who looked like me kicking ass in dope outfits.
(That leather coat, shades and high top fade combo on Blade? YES AND MORE YES!)
I had heard of Black Panther back in the day and saw a couple comics on the shelves of Barnes & Noble, but it wasn’t until the character showed up in the Avengers movie series that I took notice. The announcement of the Black Panther movie last year with its all-star cast of black stars solidified my obsession which includes Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, and my favorite, Chadwick Boseman in the title role.
Not only has Black Panther caused a worldwide buzz but has broken records before the official release, having sold more pre-sale tickets than any other superhero movie released by Marvel Studios. The film comes at a time where discussions on race and culture are brimming with tensions on all sides with little chance for resolution on the horizon. Yet, the film's glowing reviews highlight not only the depth of the plot and characters but how social and racial conflicts are accurately and uniquely reflected between the fictional African nation of Wakanda and the outside world.
In addition to a great cast and storyline, the film has an accomplished director in Ryan Coogler. The 31-year-old Oakland native has proven himself a master storyteller with his past two award-winning projects Fruitvale Station (2013) and Creed (2015) both of which featured Michael B. Jordan in lead roles. From the promotional photos and trailers I’ve seen, the cinematics and costuming in Black Panther are second to none. There is a unique mix of modern and traditional African dress and hairstyling from the intricate braided styles and shaved heads of the female “Dora Milaje” warriors, and the high-tech super suits and weaponry of Black Panther and his nemesis Erik Killmonger.