“Black Panther” Cast and Crew Discuss Why It’s Already Become a Cultural Phenomenon
Black Panther hits theaters on Friday, and it’s already the most anticipated superhero movie ever, according to advance ticket sales.
Tony Stark, it seems, is no match for Black Panther at the box office, and the reasons for that are myriad. It is the first superhero film to feature an African hero, an almost all-Black cast, and a Black writer and director at the helm (Creed‘s Ryan Coogler). The fictional, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda depicted in the film also appears to be as badass as anything we’ve seen before in the Marvel Universe. And if the wildly enthusiastic reaction to the premiere two weeks ago is any indication, people are going to love this movie.
So yeah, there’s a lot of hype.
The world has a lot to say about this groundbreaking flick, as fans share their enthusiasm, costumes, opening night plans, and pleas for donations to Black Panther-related fundraisers over social media.
The stars themselves — along with the director and producer of the film — also recently weighed in on the cultural phenomenon, chatting with the New York Times about what working on the film has meant to them.
Michael B. Jordan plays Erik Killmonger, the villainous foil to Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa, also known as Black Panther. Jordan described how the film has the potential to set an important precedent when it comes to telling Black or African stories on a grand scale.
“Moving forward, everybody’s going to start to have the courage to tell bold stories that people didn’t think were lucrative, didn’t think that anybody wanted to see,” Jordan told the Times. “All of that, I feel, is getting ready to dissolve.”
For Boseman, the experience of playing a fictional Marvel superhero in some ways felt truer than previous roles.
“A lot of times, being [a Black man] in Hollywood, when you get material you’ll read it and you’ll be like, “That’s not us.” The team behind the film, he said, had the courage to “give Black Panther its true essence and put somebody behind it that would have my same passion for what it could be.”
Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o plays Nakia, a spy and T’Challa’s love interest. For her, and likely for a wide swath of the film’s audience, what really hit home was the deep and often unspoken contemporary connections between Africa and America.
“Seeing it yesterday, I’m even more excited about the celebration of pan-Africanism, because this movie is really about a contemporary Africa relating very intimately with a contemporary America via the characters of Black Panther and Killmonger.”
Director Ryan Coogler spoke about how the film uncovers erroneous and racist myths about Africa as a primitive backwater.
“…the truth is that some of those places that people might refer to as backwaters — and these recent comments [by Donald Trump] definitely aren’t the first time somebody has said something like that — were the cradle of civilization. They were the first places to do anything that we would consider to be civilized.”
With a $200 million budget, a superstar cast, and a mission that goes way beyond mindless entertainment, the film Coogler presents to the world this Friday promises to be anything but primitive.
We can hardly wait.
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(Photos via Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty + Marvel)