Chadwick Boseman, right, star of “Black Panther,” is surrounded by onlookers as he poses on the carpet at the premiere of the film at The Dolby Theatre on Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

A revolution is defined as “a radical and pervasive change in society and the social structure, especially one made suddenly and often accompanied by violence.” Marvel’s new movie, Black Panther, may not be a physical revolution, but its content is powerful enough to spark an artistic one. Although the blockbuster is set in the fictional African country of Wakanda, it fuses together some real characteristics of modern African cultures with a hint of futuristic vibes to add to its vibrancy. For instance, some characters speak the language Xhosa, which widely spoken in South Africa. There is also a strong presence of ancestral appreciation and connection.

As a society we are in an era where Afrocentrism is being popularized, fantasized and romanticized. A key observation to make about differences in generational representation is the historical roles of most black people in the film industry. In the past, images of black people on screen were either subservient, scandalous, or in the background. In Black Panther, the characters range from warriors to royalty and even the villain Killmonger has a complexity that makes it difficult for the audience to completely condemn him. Besides the cast being majority Black, and recognizing that each character has dimension by not being a demeaning or narrow-minded representation of black life, this film is pivotal. The main reason it will stand as one of the visible markers for the beginning of an artistic revolution is because of its audacity to display Black strength while maintaining its commercial appeal to the masses. This will be an inspiration for other Black filmmakers to reach this pinnacle of success and gives young Black audiences the opportunity to see the normalization of people that look like them with positive and dynamic presence on television. This association has the power to gradually produce higher self-esteem in black communities nationally and internationally.

A large misconception is that the characters T’challa and Killmonger are metaphorical satire on the legacies of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. Such a popular yet unsupported claim is blasphemous and appalling to make since most of these people misconstrue the ideologies of both figureheads, who held drastically different viewpoints than these modern fictional characters. Some try to compare T’challa to Martin, but he is a king who favors separatism to protect his kingdom. Killmonger believes in violence but Malcolm X stood for self-defense in times of being attacked and black nationalism. In this aspect he would be more like T’challa in that he believed in self-sustainability among Black people. However, this film is purely fictional and imaginative in that it proposes political questions about the black struggle and how it could be different in an alternative world.

Wakanda is an African country that has been untouched by both Western colonization and imperialization, giving it the opportunity to possess the wealth and resources that real African countries once had during ancient times. If a country existed like this today would it be able to help bring black people on every continent out of systemic and racial bondage? In fact, this is not the question most people really want to ask because they are scared to ask the other question, how? In a time where entertainment is becoming a necessary source of support to get through current tragedies, this film meticulously delivers an action-packed performance while inciting relevant conversations.

Comments Welcome