For a while, there was a straight up formulaic equation that could predict the Next Big Superhero Movie. Conventionally attractive straight white guy + conventionally attractive white female lead + Harrison Ford, somewhere.
Such is not the case with The Black Panther.
And although it’s a work of art and has the strong cast of Lupita Nyong’o, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, and Forest Whitaker to name a few, on paper: some box office execs might be surprised that it’s a hit.
This is because of the deeply homogenous nature of most of the action movies of the past ten years. Most Blockbusters with a capital “B” don’t boast a black protagonist, let alone an all-black cast.
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As we’ve seen unfold in an unfortunate way time and time again, the entertainment industry is one that is undeniably ruled by a small group of overwhelmingly white, cisgender men, and the movies reflect this. But we need to be doing better, not just for the children of color who need role models who look like them to look up to, but for the adults of color that never had them growing up.
On Tuesday afternoon at the Tumblr headquarters, Lupita Nyong’o spoke about how “Black Panther” is the exception, given its activist nature. She spoke about how in the entertainment industry, “the dollar speaks louder than the culture.” The movie’s success implies that action movies with predominantly black casts can perform well, she said, and pushes the industry to continue to produce these types of movies.
When cast mate Danai Gurira was asked about her take on the movie’s immense success, she matter-of-factly said, “I’m not that surprised” and after pausing for a moment continued to ask, “Is that weird?”
Guriri went on to comment on the fact that because Black Panther is the first movie of its kind for this generation with regard to representation, “the world has been starved for it” and has been without it for “no good reason”, and because of this “when it actually happens, it’s resonant.”
Clearly we’re all in agreement — the movie made $25 million during its Thursday night previews alone, and had the fifth biggest opening weekend in Hollywood history.
Black Panther is out now in theaters, go see it with your families and be a part of the change you want to see.
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