Afrofuturist superhero movie Black Panther breaks new ground in more ways than one

Black Panther poster

As well as being the first mainstream black superhero movie, it’s witty and includes plenty of leading women.

It’s clear almost from the start of the latest Marvel adventure Black Panther that the title character is not your run-of-the-mill superhero. Did Captain America or Wonder Woman have to drink a purple potion while being buried in red sand, only to emerge in the long grass of the Ancestral Plane, where fiery-eyed panthers doze in the trees under a pink sky before metamorphosing from cat to human? They did not. It is only one of several dozen instances during which the more reflective cinemagoer has cause to wonder if there is anything separating the movie from, say, Yellow Submarine or the psychedelic Monkees film Head. Black Panther is, in every sense, a trip.

There are numerous ways in which the picture breaks new ground, none of which would count for very much if the film itself didn’t work some wonderful miracles within the confines of its genre. It is the first black mainstream superhero movie, the most expensive studio project ever made by an African-American director (take a bow, Ryan Coogler, who only made his debut, Fruitvale Station, five years ago) and the first picture of its kind to be populated almost entirely by black actors. Relatively new faces including Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) and Michael B. Jordan (Creed) mingle with veterans such as Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker.

It is just as notable, however, for tipping the gender balance of its leading characters in favour of women: T’Challa, aka Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), is protected by an all-female security squad from his birthplace, the technologically-advanced African country Wakanda, where the infrastructure and aesthetic provides a good, working, one-stop definition of Afrofuturism. Those bodyguards, known as the Dora Milaje, are headed …read more

Source:: New Statesman


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