Why Marvel’s Black Panther is so Monumental
Image being a kid during the 1950’s and running to a local comic book store after school to get the latest edition of your favorite comic. You open the crisp cover, read it page by page, and finish it before dinner. During dinner, your dad asks you about the comic and you tell him about the exciting adventures your favorite hero had, the great dangers he faced, and the triumph he experienced. After brushing your teeth, you hop into bed and your father tucks you in.
You tell him how badly you want to be like your favorite comic hero and he tells you can be anything you set your mind to be. You reply, “I could never be my favorite hero, he is White and I’m Black. There are no Black superheroes dad.”
This was the reality my own father experienced as a child. During the 1940’s through the 1970’s Black characters were under-represented, the consequences of most comic book writers and artists being white during that time. There were Black creators, but not many. At one point the major companies would only hire one or two Black artists.
The first known African-American comic book artist Clarence Matthew Baker (Matt Baker) worked during the Golden Age of comics as a co-creator of The Phantom Lady. These types of artists paved the way for comic artists such as Reginald Hudlin, Darryl Banks, Christopher Priest, and Aaron McGruder.
Although there were a few Black comic artists, all portrayals of Black people in comic books during that time were unimportant or racist. For the two major comic book companies, Marvel and DC, a Black superhero was not created until 1966. Two White, Jewish first-generation American creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby revolutionized the comic scene.
They introduced the first ever Black Superhero the Black Panther. The Black Panther first appeared in the Fantastic Four comics. In 1969, The first African-American superhero, The Falcon was created to partner up with Captain America. This breakthrough led to the creation of popular characters we know today such as, Luke Cage, Blade, Storm, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Black Lightning, and Cyborg.
The Black Panther will be the first solo film starring a Black superhero. Creed and Fruitville Station director, Ryan Coogler has gathered an amazing cast, so guess who you will be seeing, yes that’s right Michael B. Jordan. Alongside the talented Michael B. Jordan is the King and Black Panther himself Chadwick Boseman, the beautiful Lupita Nyong’o, and Black television royalty Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker.
The original soundtrack for the film will be produced by rapper Kendrick Lamar and Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE). The music will be inspired by the movie and the soundtrack will feature Kendrick’s collaboration with SZA “All the Stars.” When talking about the soundtrack for the film Ryan Coogler said, “Artistic themes [in the music] will align with those we explore in the film.
Am I the only one super excited for this film? It seems I am not the only one, expected opening weekend sales are around $120 Million, securing the biggest debut at domestic box offices of the year so far. This film is important for the Black community, art and culture, and our commitment to diversity as American people. The Black Panther Movie will be revolutionary!