It's pretty clear that Black Panther has more meaning for race and diversity than your average Marvel superhero movie. This movie means a lot in terms of black pride and representation - and has much cultural significance in America as a whole.
Personally, I loved the diversity and representation. However, I disliked how the plot centered on a Wakanda-Wakanda conflict. I realize that this movie was based on a Marvel comic, but I wish Marvel could’ve picked a different storyline for the first Black Panther movie. Many people take Wakanda to represent beautiful Africa. Outside of Wakanda’s fictional reality, there is already so much negative publicity around intra-African conflicts, wars, and struggles. I don’t like the fact that the movie fictionally reinforced the stereotype and narrative of African conflict. I would’ve appreciated it if Black Panther fought off an external villain in defense of a unified Wakanda. Such a narrative would’ve had a more positive impact on racial dynamics and diversity, especially given the power of such a blockbuster movie and story. I know the realm of the Marvel universe and saga has its course including the tie-in with the rest of the Avengers, but portraying a story with a unified Wakanda would’ve been that much more inspiring. Black Panther is just so impactful given the current state of movies and society. Overall, I think Black Panther did a fantastic job with the natural representation while still being an exciting superhero movie.
I was so happy that there were such strong black women depicted in the movie. Seeing the character of Shuri, Black Panther’s little sister, shine as a technological genius was empowering. Not only was she feisty, but she was also smart, sharp, and loyal. Watching Okoye’s character was also inspiring. I appreciate how the movie showed both her soft and loving side as well as her top-notch warrior spirit and skills. The way she balanced the conflict of her internal values was very noble and relatable for all. I thought the movie portrayed women of color in a very nuanced and meaningful way.
Not only was Black Panther an excellent superhero movie, but it also brings diversity to the forefront. The reason this movie is so significant for diversity is because it’s the only one. Specifically, it’s the only feature superhero film with such a diverse cast (diversity is defined as an approach away from the typical all-white cast). The fact that all the main characters and stars are black is pretty epic. Because of the rarity of such stories, people take Black Panther to represent so much more than just an action film. In contrast, any film with an all-white cast in traditional European clothing would not be taken by people to represent all of Europe, because such stories are ubiquitous. We need more movies and stories with diversity so that wholesome representations of all humans can be the new normal! Overall, Black Panther did a pretty great job in terms of both action and diversity.
Originally Published: July 12, 2018