MARVEL’S BLACK PANTHER

BY: KIMBERLY ALSUP

Black Panther coming to theatres is like when Barack Obama became President. As a community we needed this film, we need this win. For it to premiere during Black History Month is an even bigger win. We deserve so much more for the culture, but Black Panther is a big deal.

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Black Panther will give all shades of Black people an opportunity to see themselves become the center of the most fantabulous movie from Marvel. I’m not sure if White America knows the magnitude and the effect it will have and will continue to have for years to come. To have celebrated Change in 2008 only to have it taken away by 2017, by a white supremacist at that, a film filled with all this Black excellence is something that everyone in America should celebrate. The fact that we have to say that America should celebrate this film, and we are still celebrating firsts in the Black community says something about the society we live in. Yes, we know this is a fictional story about fictional characters, but once those lights go off in the theatre it’s our moment, it’s our time to escape from what is currently going on in society, challenges, and any stress we may be going through. Once those credits roll and the lights come back on we will exit Wakanda and return to reality.

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Black Panther first hit the comic book pages in 1966 by Stan Lee (writer) and Jack Kirby (artist). The original Black Panther was in a slinky suit with claws and ears and ran with the Fantastic Four in Wakanda, powered by a mystery metal, vibranium. In decades since the original concept, Black Panther has undergone a variety of costume changes, some under filmmaker Reginald Hudlin, and recently, author Ta-Nenisi Coates.

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Black Panther was first introduced on screen in 2016 in Marvel’s Avengers: Civil War where he appeared alongside Iron Man, Spiderman, and Captain America. Written by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, Black Panther brings the story to the present, sketching his past and looks to the future. Directing will be done by Ryan Coogler as well, who directed Creed and gave the Rocky series an African-American feel with a champion played by Michael B. Jordan. For Black Panther, Coogler reunites with Michael B. Jordan yet again and some former crew members including Rachel Morrison, the Director of Photography on his first film, Fruitvale Station.

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Black Panther is the first time that a major studio has greenlit a Black superhero movie with an African-American director and a primarily Black cast. The all-star cast begins with the title role played by Chadwick Boseman, my honey dip Michael B. Jordan plays the villain. Academy Award Winners Forest Whitaker and Lupita Nyong’o, Academy Award nominees Angela Bassett and Daniel Kaluuya, and Emmy award-winning Sterling K. Brown round out the amazing cast.

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“I think progress comes in ebbs and flows. I hope things continue to open up. As more content gets made, more opportunities like ours can come about for folks. But, you’ve got to put your foot on the gas when it comes to that or things can go back to where they were.” – Ryan Coogler

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“Representation matters. It is a powerful and important thing for people to know they are seen and to see themselves reflected in our films and the stories we tell. In terms of gender diversity, we’ve done very well. When it comes to diversity reflecting color and ethnicity, I’d say yes, you will see more.”
-Alan Horn, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, which owns Marvel.

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Ryan Coogler visited Africa before he began shooting Black Panther for the first time.

“I have to go if I’m making this movie. I’m not qualified just because I look like this.”

“For me, in retrospect. I realized a lot of what I deal with as an artist is with themes of identity. I think it’s something common among African-Americans. For us, we’ve got a strange circumstance in terms of our view of ourselves.”

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When Coogler was asked if he thought a White director could have done this film.

“Well, it’s possible for them to make it. It could be yes. Would they have his perspective? Probably not. It wouldn’t be nuanced in the same way because they wouldn’t have the same conflict. They don’t have the African-American conflict that exists. Whether you’re conscious or not, you have an ancestry that is very hard to trace.”

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Playing Black Panther Chadwick Boseman had to enter a boot camp to understand the character physically and emotionally. He worked with a dialect coach to perfect a South African accent, and he took a DNA test to learn his own origins.

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“To be a part of this project and to really be the main example of that representation on this scale, it’s a cool feeling. You’re very proud. You’re really very honored to be a part of that storytelling, that history-making. At the same time, in the back of your mind, there’s a pressure to make sure it’s successful so we can see more projects like this.”

Michael B. Jordan on playing a villain:

“For me, this is a chance for me to go furthest away from who I am. Erik Killmonger is really dark, even though you empathize with him and understand his point of view. I think that the greatest villains are the ones where you can see their point of view. This character took me to a dark place. I can’t really go through all I went through to get into it because I want to keep that close to me. But, it stuck with me afterwards.”

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What Jordan wants the audience to take away from the film:

“I think it’s something for everybody there’s a love element, there are pride elements, there’s a family element, there’s an identity element that I think everybody can relate to. I just hope people take all of those things wrapped in one. It’s an all-Black cast for the most part, and it’s set in Africa, but it’s universal in so many ways to everybody around the world, so I feel like it’s something that everybody can take something from. There’s a bit of wish fulfillment and fantasy and action to it. It’s a well-rounded movie, I feel like everybody’s gonna enjoy.”

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I am excited about this film. It has already surpassed box office numbers in pre-sales.

MAKE SURE YOU GET OUT AND SEE THIS DYNAMIC FILM. OPENING 2/15/18.

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