Not Just a Superhero Movie to Us

By Vanessa Rivers

2 September 2020

I originally wrote this in 2018 as a response to an opinion piece in my local newspaper after the “Black Panther” movie was first released. Due to the passing of Chadwick Boseman, I thought it would be fitting to repost it.

At that time, I didn’t realize that the success of the movie was not only for the reasons previously stated, but also because of the man, Chadwick Boseman, who embodied the characteristics of his character, “T’challa”. His strength & gracefulness, which we now know, was a man fighting cancer, while still living his life on his own terms, doing what he loved to do, makes him that much more special & sorely missed.

Thank you Mr. Boseman, Rest In Power!

17 February 2018

I read this article that was prompted by the upcoming “Black Panther” movie which was titled “Film history of black superheroes not so super”.  It was highlighting the problems in previous movies with black superhero’s and the “jubilation” for the “Black Panther” movie.  It got me to thinking about how other people, who aren’t black are experiencing this phenomenon, and are they missing the reason why this movie is groundbreaking as the author of this article had done.

Black Panther is much, much more than just a superhero movie, it’s a glimpse of what could have been, if only African’s, were left alone to their own devices.  The premise of “Wakanda”, a country within the continent of Africa, with all its natural resources, riches, technology and strong leadership, of both males and females, that wasn’t ruined by the colonization by Europeans, is like a dream come true for many black people.  The movie allows black people to get a glimpse of what our lives could, and should have been, if the slave trade hadn’t changed the trajectory of our history.    It reminds us that the problems in advancement that plague our African nations were directly influenced by the kidnapping of its most valuable resources, “its people”.  This injustice which left gaping holes throughout the continent is still being felt to this very day.   “Black Panther” allows black people worldwide to openly and unapologetically show pride in being black.  There are “red carpet” type events planned for the opening weekend, and large groups of people who’ve had their tickets for weeks, are going to the theater to watch the movie together.  Black people are planning to wear all “black”, and some are making Afrocentric costumes for the expressed purpose of viewing this movie.  I myself, unlike other black people, which I’ve seen in theater lobbies, are taking selfies with the movie poster to commemorate this event because there aren’t many movies where the actors portraying the characters look just like you.  This may not mean much to whites, but for us a lack of representation is repressive.

Maybe the success of “Black Panther” will make the studios think twice about continuing the practice of not giving so called “black movies” large budgets, based on the myth that our movies don’t make money.  It has been proven time and time again by past box office stats that these movies are successful, but we still have no assurances that we will ever see another movie of this magnitude, made with a majority black cast in the future.  This is not just a superhero movie to us, it’s much, much more!


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