BY EMMA PRESBERG – STAFF WRITER
With a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and worldwide box office earnings of over one billion dollars, Black Panther and the Wakandan people have taken the world by storm and become an inspiration to people everywhere. As the next installation in the Avengers series, Marvel’s Black Panther is considered one of the most influential movies in recent years and has set the bar high for future superhero films.
The film owes its success to the remarkable people who made it happen. From African-American director Ryan Cooger to the predominately black cast including Chadwick Boseman, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright, the film not only represents people of color, but also celebrates African heritage.
“Well generally I was so excited for the movie because of how much I love Marvel movies,” sophomore Zamirah Hussain said. “But I was also excited by the casting choices. I think it’s been such a big hit because people do want narratives written by and starring people of color but there are such limited productions. So for this huge superhero movie to star mostly black people with amazing high tech and intricate details, it’s a big deal.”
In an era of institutional bias and an increasingly aware public, a high-profile movie that both celebrates African culture and puts it at center stage challenges the assumption that representation is unimportant. In a high-tech community full of individual personalities that cover a range of human qualities including loyalty, humor, courage, strength, and bravery (just to name a few), an argument for equality and representation rings loud, and is impossible to ignore.
“I loved the movie. It was engaging and extremely well written and directed,” sophomore Emily Shields said. “Ryan Coogler has changed the tide of Marvel with this movie. His characters and the world he brought to life have carved a space for themselves across the world that says, ‘We’re here and we’re not going anywhere.’ Movie producers can no longer keep spreading the narrative that movies featuring black actors and black experiences won’t do well on a national or global scale. Walls have been torn down.”
However, despite this forward momentum and the monumental success of the film, steps remain to be taken to continue improving representation in Hollywood. In one of his interviews, Coogler spoke on how this film is just the beginning. “I think progress comes in ebbs and flows,” said Coogler. “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.”
With two more major films coming out in 2018 (Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp), Marvel has their work cut out for them to continue this level of success. “I think that Black Panther definitely raised the bar for all future Marvel movies,” said Hussain. “It’s going to be a little more difficult to make every Marvel movie from now on as detailed and well-written as this one. In fact, I think that they won’t be able to do that for all the movies they have planned but I also think people should go easy on them about that because Black Panther just happened to have an amazing director, writer, and cast.”