So about two weeks ago the world was introduced to Captain America: Civil War and by extension most of the world got to see an African (Wakandan) king by the name of T’Challa, aka the Black Panther. I finally went to go see the movie last week and I have to say…IT WAS AWESOME. I mean the whole movie was great, but Spiderman and of course Black Panther really stole the show. It was great seeing a Black man playing a superhero in a big budget movie, and watching him take down those in his way and spit wisdom the whole way. Black Panther is just one symbol of how popular Black heroes are (and can be), and if his success is any determining factor, how much us black and nerdy people have to look forward to in the future. Man, what a time to be alive.
Let's get a couple things straight first. Black Panther NOT Marvel's first or only Black Superhero, nor will he be their first Black hero to get his own film (never forget Blade). Either way though, Black Panther is doing something groundbreaking. Being a part of the MCU, the series of films that are the reason there's three superhero movies a year, Black Panther has the possibility to change how people view superheroes. A big budget Marvel film with a cast full of beautiful Black and African people set in a technological African paradise promises to be lit AF and maybe even open the door for more superhero movies where people of color are at the center. For those of us Black nerds and geeks who have loved superheroes for years, this is a big thing. Even better? It erases any excuse Marvel (or really any other company) had about not taking a chance with heroes and/or villains of color. Marvel just recently got into some stuff because they turned an Asian character white, claiming as most studios do that “But, but, Asian actors aren’t a draw!” They do the same thing with Black actors, gay actors and characters, female leads, or any combination of the three. Black Panther's popularity and the inevitable success of his movie really makes it hard for these companies to NOT take advantage of their underrepresented characters, and if it happens that step forward is worth acknowledging.
But we all know that the chance of either big comic book studio changing that dramatically is about as likely as Sleepy Hollow ever being good again. Let’s face it; if there’s anything that could overrule these companies love of money it’s their hatred of any sort of change to their status quo. So after these companies write off Black Panther’s (and Storm’s, and Luke Cage's, and Falcon’s, and Cyborg’s…) success and popularity as flukes and go back to "all straight white male everything", we're gonna have to have somewhere to find these great Black characters we love. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of Black centered stories on the indie front, and Black Panther’s success could help us as well. Black Panther bringing Black skinned heroes and African culture to the mainstream could encourage moviegoers and comic/book readers to search for more of what they saw on the silver screen and when they do, they find us. As nice as it would be to see the mainstream take notice and make a change, we can't rely on them. We can't wait for the next Milestone to show up to get absorbed by DC when there is an ever growing community of Black geeks and nerds hungry for good characters that look like them.
And honestly at the end of the day we all just want to see ourselves reflected in the media. No matter how we classify ourselves, we wanna see people who look and act like us in the media that we love so much. That’s how you get Blerds, Gay Geeks, Girl Nerds, and the like. We all just get tired of having to try to shoehorn ourselves into media clearly not made for us. And to see that maybe, just maybe, things are changing is amazing. I teach kids everyday who grew up loving the X-Men, anime, and the Justice League, and many of them are embarrassed to tell other people about their interests because they think that they have to compromise their blackness for it. I saw not just myself reflected in Black Panther’s shiny suit, but them as well. I saw their desires for characters they could connect to on that movie screen, and felt the hope rising that maybe those characters we’ve spent our lives waiting on are FINALLY on the way. Even as I stan out over Black Panther I realize that this is only a step in the right direction, but damn its a step that's a long time coming and one I personally plan on using to my advantage as well. Now if we can just get somebody to treat Storm like the African goddess that she is we’ll be set…
What did you think of Captain America: Civil War? Are you excited for Black Panther and his movie or any other Black heroes? Be sure to leave your questions, comments, and concerns below and don't forget to like, share, and subscribe!