Positive Representation in “Black Panther”

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Iyana Jones, Staff Writer

Marvel’s “Black Panther” has been one of the most anticipated releases of the year for good reason. It is the first Marvel film starring a mostly black cast, coming at a time where the representation of people of color in movies has been poor.

But the genuine cultural significance of seeing a diverse cast in such a distinguished way has not been lost on the black community.

When the trailer for “Black Panther” was released last October, social media was, and still is, saturated with Black Panther memes and parodies. Twitter has been filled with pictures of flights to Wakanda, the imaginary African country where the movie takes place, with captions expressing how ready they are to go to this far-off land.

I knew this film would take over social media,” said Kiana Quinonez, who saw the film on opening weekend. “You have almost every black person, alongside Marvel nerds, and movie junkies excited to see this film. It was going to take over regardless. The only way you could not see ‘Black Panther’ content everywhere, is if you lived under a literal rock.”

And take over it did. According to Vanity Fair magazine, “Black Panther” made $404 million worldwide within four days of being in theaters, making it the fifth highest opening for a film. Ever. According to Moneyish, African Americans make up about 15 percent of superhero movie audiences, but for “Black Panther,” they made up was 37 percent. Clearly, black audiences wanted to show their support for the film. In order see more movies where there is a diverse cast, the film must do well financially, which it clearly did.

“It changes the way I view superhero comics because they don’t really advertise the black superheroes and now there’s a movie doing just that,” said senior Mitsouki Sanchez, who plans to see the movie soon.

This movie has changed the way African Americans  see themselves on the big screen. Africa, for once, is depicted as a beautiful, rich country with technology advanced far beyond the rest of the world. It shows people with hair textures that are often not accepted by Western society. It shows a black male lead as the peacemaker and hero. It shows a young black woman as the face of STEM in the Marvel universe, outsmarting counterparts, like Tony Stark.

“Black Panther” is more than just a superhero movie. It is a depiction of African Americans in an empowered and intelligent light, which is  hard to find in movies. The film received so much support because this is how black people can show Hollywood that their voices and  stories matter, too.

“After this film I hope that Hollywood will depict black people in a better light,” said Sanchez. “Instead of as thugs, drug dealers, robbers and deadbeats. Black peoples are heroic, smart, intellectual, motivating and inspiring, too.”