By VANISA CLAY
While I am not a comic book fan, I am a true lover of film. When the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, Ironman (2008), was released I wasn’t too excited about it, although it seemed everyone else in the world was. A lot of things have changed for me in the past decade, which has softened my resolve when it comes to comic book movies, one of the most prominent being the release of “Black Panther.”
In 2012, I found myself in the middle of a comic book convention in Atlanta called Dragon Con. A friend and myself decided, on a whim, to drive down to Georgia and get the author of the “Sookie” novels, better known as the “True Blood” novels, to sign a copy of our favorite book from the collection. Little did we know, this was not just a book signing but a full-blown fantasy convention complete with costumes, symposiums on comic book culture and a lot of fans. It was quite overwhelming, but what struck me the most was the amount of black people at this convention.
As a black woman, I did not know that so many black people are fans of fantasy. Nor did I know how wide spread it was. Since 2008, I’ve heard time and time again, “where are the black superheroes?” Given what I saw at Dragon Con, I can see why the question arises every time a new comic book movie comes out. While comic book characters such as Nick Fury and Catwoman have been played by black actors Samuel L. Jackson and Eartha Kitt and more recently by Halle Berry, respectively, they were originally white characters in comic books. Marvel’s Avenger teammate, Falcon, Marvel’s Luke Cage and Storm, a member of the X-Men, are all popular black comic book characters but have never had their own feature film.
Catwoman did have a feature film in 2004, with Halle Berry as the lead, but it bombed at the box office. This also fed into the widely held belief in Hollywood that a black lead could not carry an action-packed fantasy movie. In my opinion, the movie bombed because it just sucked. The CGI was horrible, the story line was bad and the plot was non-existent. Michelle Pfeiffer could have starred this movie and it still would have flopped.
On February 16, 2018, many fans of comic books from all backgrounds, finally got an answer to that question. “Black Panther” (2018) opened in theaters, to sell-out crowds. Black Panther is a Marvel comic book character that made his debut in a Fantastic Four comic in 1966, appearing in his own solo in 1977. “Black Panther” is the story of a young king, T’Challa, who fights to protect his isolated and scientifically advanced African nation of Wakanda. He combats these conflicts with his alter ego, Black Panther.
The story, while it may take place in Africa, is a universal story of living up to one’s potential. With a well-written story that makes a fine addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the movie was done very well. The cast was full of not just African-American actors, but black actors from around the world. The cast includes Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o and my personal favorite, Danai Gurira, known best as Michonne from the “Walking Dead.”
Coming out just in time for Black History Month, “Black Panther” is a must see for all races. Check it out to see creative black history in the making.