On -isms: T'Challa's Coming

By | Thursday, July 13, 2017 2 comments
Last August, I wrote about how I thought Black Panther was going to stoke a lot of pride and excitement in the Black community. To quote myself...
Any success that movie has -- critical, box office, whatever -- will resonate very loudly and strongly with them. If you talk to any Black geeks or nerds about the movie, you'll see an excitement behind their eyes. Restrained, perhaps, because they know it could all go to shit between now and the movie's release but the anticipation is there.
In the past almost-a-year, we haven't learned a ton about the how the movie's going but we do have a teaser trailer that was very well-received and just this week Entertainment Weekly released a bunch of cast photos. And every time a new snippet gets released, I see a bunch of Marvel fans going "This looks awesome!" and a bunch of people of color forcibly restraining themselves from just running around the room in circles squeeing at the top of their voice!

Remember when Ghostbusters came out, and a lot of women were very openly thankful that they finally had a movie like that to relate to? And the LGBTQ community was thrilled to see Kate McKinnon steal just about every scene she was in? Multiple that level of excitement by a hundred.

The film not only stars a primarily Black cast, but so is director Ryan Coogler. And so is Joe Robert Cole, who co-wrote the script with Coogler. And so is costume designer Ruth E. Carter. Not everyone involved in the movie's production is Black, but a very good number of them that have a significant impact on the story and visuals are. That is a lot more representation than we saw in Ghostbusters or Wonder Woman, and that has a lot of POC excited.

Really excited.

When the trailer was released during Game 4 of the NBA playoffs, the trailer garnered more social media attention than the game itself. "The real-time reaction to the Black Panther trailer was overwhelmingly positive on social media; reaffirming what the success of Wonder Woman has already proven — that fans of Marvel and DC movies are hungry for representation," Jonathan Cohen, principal brand analyst at Amobee noted at the time. He went on: "Audiences want to see superheroes onscreen that reflect their own diversity, and when that does occur, there's a heightened level of excitement and nervousness that the movie is going to measure up to expectations... Based on the audience's reaction to the teaser, it appears fans have gone from cautiously optimistic about the Black Panther movie to feeling February 2018 can't come soon enough."

This is all last month's news. But from the other conversations I've had, I don't think most people have an inkling of just how big this will go over in the Black community. Those women-only showings of Wonder Woman? Expect at least as many Black-only showings of Black Panther. I know Black people who are planning their whole week of the movie's opening now. My wife, who has never been in a theater in the almost ten years that I've known her, who hasn't seen any of the Marvel movies (including the one I'm actually in!), who doesn't even like the superhero genre, has asked me if there's any way I can get advance screening tickets to Black Panther. Regardless of where it is. She's willing to fly to New York or Los Angeles or wherever just to see this movie as soon as possible.

(As an aside, seriously, I know it's early, but if anyone can help hook me up with advance tickets, that would be really fantastic! And that "any city" comment isn't hyperbole either.)

There's still a lot of opportunity between now and February for something to go sideways, though, and all the POC that I know are trying to keep things cool. But I'm telling you, they are just keeping things in reserve for now. As we get closer to the opening date, things are going to get more and more lit. Excuse my attempt at contemporary slang, but that's really the best descriptor here. I genuinely think white people will be taken aback by how big this will get for Black people; I'm telling you now to expect it. There is a metric ton of excitement that is barely kept from exploding all over the internet right now; this will be big.

Yes, there will be jackasses protesting Black-only screenings. Yes, there will be reviewers panning the film for being "too Black." Yes, there will be a call for a boycott of the film. And Black people will collectively (and rightly) tell all those assholes to fuck all the way off.

I'm saying now that this is predictable and expected. This is not Beyonce creating an entire album in secret; we know T'Challa is coming. Don't be one of those fools writing a "clever" "think piece" about how Black Panther "unexpectedly" tapped into some zeitgeist of Black culture. You'll see those pieces next February, too. Tell the people who write them to wake up for once and pay attention to something outside their little privilege bubble.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

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Matt K said...

Well really, I'm sure lots of white men are feeling left out and impatient; "when is Hollywood going to make a movie for us?"


A film full of black people and they're not slaves. Shouldn't they be escaping or at least suffering? I'm not following this at all. Perhaps it would have helped if they cast people of colour with very light skins ... and then we could all enjoy it.


btw Are we in 2017 yet?