Seems like the new Marvel Comics movie Black Panther, has everyone chin-wagging, and is certainly the hottest movie in the theaters.
It has received critical acclaim for its stunning visuals, well defined characters, striking costume design, thrilling action sequences and riveting performances by a mostly black cast.
It grossed $242.1 million in the US on opening weekend, which was the second highest of all-time as well as the biggest debut by an African American director.
The lead up to its release was like the slow gathering of dark swirling clouds and the low rumble of an impending downpour ready to burst into the theaters amid a storm of hype. The amount of underground buzz among the fans inside the Marvel Cinematic Universe had me stoked and ready to get soaked!
It seems that moviegoers were more than ready to experience a movie that featured not only a leading black superhero (versus the usual sidekick) but also one that features black women in a positively strong light and in a non-sexual way.
We movie lovers were all geared up, getting our popcorn ready and waiting with bated breath to become honorary Wakandans, if for only a couple of hours. All of us were set except for Rachael. Po’ thing was blissfully unaware of the approaching gale and didn’t catch wind of what was going on until the day before, while shopping at Costco.
A Marvelous Discovery
In the check out line at Costco, the cashier enthusiastically asked Rachael and I, if we had plans to see the movie when it premiered the next night. Before I could give him the appropriate “are you kidding me, heck yeah” response, Rachael sided-eyed the lively lad and said, “Um…is there a particular reason why I need see this movie?”
I thought, “Is there a particular reason why you need see this movie? Are you kidding me?”
“This is Black Panther we’re talking about honey!”
As we walked off I tried to explain to her the magnitude of what she had said, and we laughed together all the way to the car! When she told me she’d never even heard of the film before, I knew then that I hadn’t done my job to prepare her for what the comic book nerd world knew was going to be a blockbuster movie phenomenon and the impact a film like this could have on the Black community and on the nation at-large.
Let’s backup a minute.
Beginning to Marvel
Starting a little over a month ago, I began showing the girls other superhero films to get them pumped for the main event. I’ve already seen all the other Marvel movies but I queued up Captain America: Civil War, and Spider-Man: Homecoming for them.
We’d already taken them to see Wonder Woman – Marley and Journey liked it, but Delaney loved it, so I was pleased to know that I had at least one budding comic buff in the family.
It had donned on me that other than seeing Wonder Woman in the theater, Rachael hadn’t been present (most likely by choice) during our Marvel movie marathons.
Hey, what can I say? These are not typically her kind of movies. But I’ll tell you this much, she really loved Black Panther!
We saw it on a Sunday afternoon. We’d purchased the tickets online to avoid any mishaps, got there super early and still had to stand in line. Rachael left the line to get the popcorn, and after about 20 minutes we made our way into the theater and sat in our usual spot…about 5 rows up in the center and slightly to the right.
Rach came outta that movie hyped up!
Here’s what she had to say: “I was unsure what to expect based upon consistent historical misrepresentation of people of color, particularly women, but I left proudly…yes, they got this movie right.”
Not bad for a woman who claims to have “seen” several other Marvel movies while roving throughout the house doing everything BUT watching. And however, I completely agree with her assessment.
As parents, it is important to us that our 3 little brown girls see men and women who look like them, represented in a way that is uplifting and empowered! The feminism aspects of the film were not missed by my girls – Delaney gave me the thumbs up sign every time The Dora Milaje did something amazing.
When is the last time you’ve seen a superhero accompanied by a group of women bodyguards?
A Marvelous World For All
It is so important for us to ground our girls in the sense of confidence that comes from knowing that they are already strong, intelligent and beautiful. We want to impress upon them that the color of their skin is in no way a limitation or a reason why they cannot achieve great things in the world.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Brigitte Vittrup, an associate professor of early childhood development and education at Texas Woman’s University said, “Kids are not colorblind. There’s a lot of structural inequality in our society, and kids are noticing that. By not mentioning it, by not talking about it, we’re essentially preserving the status quo.”
When they see a black president, black teachers, gold medalist, writers, composers, musicians, directors, main characters in books and superheroes on the big screen, this helps to reinforce the self-pride Rachael and I wholeheartedly promote daily at home.
This film does a marvelous job of speaking to the fact that representation truly matters.
Great article! I’m not a comic book superhero reader at all, but I enjoyed you and your family’s response to the movie.