I was at a BBQ recently enjoying the company of good friends. Over a few drinks we started talking about Captain America Civil War. The airport scene, the car chase, the final fight, yes! grown men geeking out around a BBQ stand. The topic changed to focus on Black Panther. A casual movie goer (close friend) commented that Black Panther should represent “us as a people”. Basically Ryan Coogler should “Malcom X” the hell out of this movie and then some. What???
For the record I didn’t want to argue with the dude…he’s built like a rhino. So I let him ride that wave.
Lack of diversity in Hollywood has taken on a new form now. The issue (lack of diversity) has moved from a serious one to a trendy topic over drinks. The reason I’m entertaining this is because unnecessary pressure is placed on a movie that has nothing to do with “us as a people”.
I’m a black South African who was raised on the bread and butter of “us as a people” so read on before you jump to any conclusions.
Let me make this article uncomfortable; Is Kevin Feige making a “black movie”?
Let’s define a “black movie” in this context:
12 years a slave
Country of my skull
Sarafina (if I lost you on this one please google it)
Are you picking up what I’m putting down?
I don’t know Kevin Feige personally, I’m not part of the Marvel think tank but the answer is no, he’s not making a “black movie”.
Reports are coming in as to who is joining Chadwick Boseman in Wakanda, and the names are boss! Michael B Jordan and Lupita Nyong’o are some of the stars announced recently. This is a great cast hands down, but I should not be expected to put my fist up when the credits role. That should be reserved for other movies that set out to get that reaction.
I agree that the cast should reflect the world of Black Panther and mirror our times culturally. For black roles, cast Africans no matter how small the role is. I was surprised and delighted to hear T’Challa speak Zulu. This shows that Marvel is moving into uncharted territory in terms of cultural diversity. Get more Zulu speaking people in the movie for authenticity.
So if I didn’t chicken out on challenging the rhino at the BBQ stand, I would’ve said Black Panther has to be a Marvel movie first before anything else. By this I mean, the film has to give us T’Challa’s point of view on the world outside Wakanda’s boarders. Is Iron Man going to attack Wakanda to capture Captain America? Is Michael B Jordan’s character Ulysses Klaue’s partner? Is Black Panther classified as a superhero, or a king who does what he must for his people and country? Must a new king bend to the will of his people to prove his loyalty? Can Iron Man be trusted?
In closing, “art imitates life” and Marvel Studios got the right artist in Ryan Coogler to carry this film. I think the importance of Black Panther will live on in the real world because of what the character will represent to black and white alike.
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