Now that Black Panther has cracked into the top 3 highest earning movies of all-time there are a couple things we have to consider. Firstly, based on the film’s success you’d think it would lead to an uptick into the development of material with a POC-audience in mind, right? Secondly, in the grand scheme of Marvel’s cinematic universe the center seems to have settled somewhere between Tom Holland’s Spiderman, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange. With that being said, is this next phase of Marvel going to be able to continue the success of the last decade or so?
Earlier this year I (along with the rest of The Nexcrew) hosted a Black Panther event at Dragon’s Lair in Austin. One of our big goals in planning the gig, was that we really wanted attendees to gain a genuine appreciation of who and what Black Panther is. I felt like the ‘preview’ of sorts fans got in Captain America: Civil War was solid, but didn’t do a whole lot to establish who T’Challa was. Thankfully, one of the biggest compliments we received about the event was how informative it turned out to be. People really enjoyed the history and cultural importance of the character.
Now during the success of the movie’s run in theaters (which is still going as of this post), a number of Hollywood execs have started to believe the movie’s triumph a sort of fluke. A billion dollar fluke, apparently. Marvel is a trusted brand in the realm of cinematic entertainment now, so some believe they could have turned any IP into a billion dollar movie.
Thor, Ant Man, and Dr Strange all say hello, by the way.
The criticism may be valid on some terms, but it completely overlooks one crucial aspect of what Black Panther so appealing to some many people.
What is Iron Man? A rich white guy in a crazy, tech-suit.
What is Captain America? A soldier with a big, noble heart and super-human abilities
Spider-man? Nerdy kid with spider-based powers
Black Panther? King of a sovereign nation who is forced to take over after the death of his father, the former King. Oh yeah, and he’s also the super-powered, super wealthy, highly trained protector of his people.
It’s no secret that there were thousands (if not millions) of moviegoers who went to see Black Panther who hadn’t watched a single Marvel movie prior to. And why’d they go. Because of the sheer hype the Black Panther press tour generated. The stars, director, and producers were so visible and so likable that it convinced people who were otherwise on the fence to see the movie.
Not only that but the African culture and mystic that surrounded the film cast the whole project in a more uplifting and positive light. Instead of gang bangers and dope pushers–we were getting warriors, kings, and a what’s essentially a sci-fic action adventure. We as black people were so ecstatic to see ourselves in such a way, that the presale of the movie’s tickets also made history.
So then..why do Hollywood execs think the movie’s success is a fluke?
Because it’s discrimination, you twits! Remember the Sony email leaks of yesteryear? (2014?) Hollywood already doesn’t think black movie stars aren’t profitable. Of course they think set design, music, brand (Marvel), and big budget are the reasons for the billion dollar earnings. They also like to pretend other Marvel stinkers like the old Hulk movies and the mostly forgettable Ant Man and Thor sequels don’t exist too. Granted the budgets weren’t as big, but Thor has 3 movies!? THREE? Keep in mind rumors of a Black Panther movie had been around since 2005. So we get 3 Iron Man, 3 Captain America, and 3 Thor movies before one Black Panther? And Black Panther outperformed them all?
How about 2-3 more Black Panther movies, a Static Shock trilogy, and a Blue Marvel run? NO? Why not? Let’s stop asking ‘why not’ and instead hold these studios accountable. One way to do that is to show overwhelming support for this kind of diversity. Thank god Chris Evans (my favorite Marvel actor) is done after Avengers 4. Now hopefully, the spotlight can be shone down on characters like Captain Marvel and Black Panther, Falcon, War Machine and the Dora Milaje. And god save the queen if we get a Iron Heart (Shuri) in this cinematic universe! *Cues God’s Plan* It would be…MARVELOUS. I’ll stop.