3.0 / 5
Black Panther is a film that has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds, receiving worldwide coverage and critical acclaim. Amidst the hype and excitement, all of which is arguably well deserved, are a number of positive societal ripples that go beyond the financial success of the film. This article will seek to address the social and cultural significance of the film, in addition to what it’s financial success means for the film industry.
The movie stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa (Black Panther) who following the death of his father, returns home to the technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king.
The action-packed sci-fi feature explores the complex themes of grief, identity, conflict, and in true Marvel fashion is littered with perfectly timed one-liners.
In addition to impressing the critiques, the film has also had a significantly positive social impact.
The most apparent of these is representation. One only has to look up the “what black panther means to me hashtag” on Twitter to recognise the importance of such representation.
Having a superhero who “looks like them” has been a call to many children around the world to aspire to greatness.
Representation in this film goes beyond black people. Black Panther is a superhero movie that is first and foremost for comic book lovers. This move towards greater diversity is as much about inclusion and celebration of this love of comics as it is about representation.
The ripples of the film’s impact can be felt by a wider audience who view it as hope for greater representation of other minority groups.
The social media buzz surrounding the film even prior to its first screening has truly made it one for the record books as a celebration of black excellence. While representation is important for the cultural identity of black people, the positive way that black people are depicted is equally if not more important. The positive imagery depicted in this movie has the potential to begin rewriting the persecution of black people in the minds of others; that is powerful.
The way people came out in support of the film can only be seen as something to celebrate, with the film offering much-needed empowerment at a time of politically and social uncertainty. The cast was made up of American, British and African actors uniquely positioning the film as a united victory for black Hollywood as a collective.
But the film didn’t just exceed our expectations on the social and cultural front. It also smashed records at the box office.
Black Panther was allocated a budget of $200 million and made,$242 million in the US over the four-day weekend–the second-highest opening second only to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and the biggest ever debut for a black director.
Online ticket retailer Fandango reported that advance ticket sales for “Black Panther” outsold all other superhero films in the company’s history.
The numbers this film has achieved and will continue to achieve has opened up the film industry to the financial success that can be achieved when representation is adequately addressed.
However, some are wary of what can be argued to be a double-edged sword. Some have argued that major celebration surrounding such films, only serves to perpetuate the idea that this is not the norm. Equally, others have suggested that such films may be used as a carrot relied upon every few years to appease those calling for greater diversity without making any substantial change to the film industry.
While there is some validity to those arguments, the positivity surrounding Black Panther is undeniable and therefore should be viewed as a step in the right direction at the very least.