“Black Panther”: A Different Marvel Movie

No spoilers.

“Black Panther” is an incredible superhero flick made for everyone — it’s just made for some of us more than others.

“Black Panther” tells the story of newly crowned King T’Challa, who has taken the throne of fictional African nation Wakanda after his father passed away during the events of “Captain America: Civil War.” He defends his nation from outside influences, while expanding the horizons of a reclusive nation.

If I am being honest with myself, I had some trepidation about seeing the newest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). If I am being really, really honest with myself, and even more honest with you, the audience, I’d say I felt trepidation because I am a racist.

Not a racist-racist, but racist enough to feel a little hesitation, to feel like maybe I would not enjoy this movie at all.

That’s because up until this point, every MCU movie has been tailored made for me, a straight white middle class man. Minorities in the MCU feel less common than white boys with superpowers, and I saw something of myself in all of them.

I might never be as rich or as smart as Tony Stark, but I could have his haircut. I may never be bitten by a radioactive spider, but I love Peter Parker because I relate so strongly to the high school nerd vibe he puts off.

With the exception of War Machine and Falcon (who, let’s face it, are not the pinnacle of cool superheroes), black characters in the MCU have been nearly non-existent. “Black Panther” is a movie that is not only full of black actors and actresses, but is a movie that attempts to fully embrace a black culture.

It is not a movie made for me. I understand that in this film, I am Martin Freeman, the token white character who is not allowed to speak before the tribal chiefs, much like the stereotypical token black characters who have come before.

Here’s the good news: it doesn’t matter much. It was an incredible superhero movie and I walked out imagining myself putting on that awesome necklace that transforms King T’Challa into the powerful Black Panther and ashamed I’d thought for a second I would not like the film. It’s a movie for everyone, even if it is a little more for black people.

The fight scenes are incredible and it has one of the most dazzling cast of characters in any MCU film. Every actor seemed to steal the stage at any given point, one-upping each other in terms of performances.

It was also one of the most beautiful MCU films created, leaving behind much of the gray blandness prior MCU films have suffered from and embracing a much more vibrant and colorful atmosphere. It really is only topped by the first two “Iron Man” films and the first “Thor,” which were both shot on film and not digital.

My hope with this movie is that Marvel will see new diversity in their films, allowing more and more superheroes to take center stage so different people can better see themselves “suiting up,” and the fear that Marvel will lose their white male audience can dissipate.

This movie was unique from other MCU films, and I credit that to the influx of diversity this movie brought into the universe. I really hope that continues. Until then, this is a movie to watch in the theaters.

Story by
Andrew Leavitt

Photo courtesy of
Marvel Studios