The highly-anticipated Black Panther was released to cinemas worldwide last week. It features a majority of African-American actors in its cast, including a huge list of stars such as Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Daniel Kaluuya and Michael B Jordan.As the latest Marvel superhero film, Black Panther is set to make history in both the box office as well as Hollywood.
Director Ryan Coogler could follow in the footsteps of other black film directors who have had increasing box office successes. Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins, had an astonishing 260 award nominations and won a credible three Oscars. In addition to this, Get Out and Girls Trip were hailed as some of the most successful films of 2017.
With 2018 marking the 10th anniversary of Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is quite surprising it has taken 10 years to feature a mainstream black superhero and protagonist.
As critical praise and social media mentions build, Black Panther is being acclaimed as something more than just a box office action movie success. The mega-production, with a budget of $200 million, is said to have had the highest advance sales of any superhero movie, making it unsurprising that many cinemas sold out on the day of the release.
Student Josh Edeki, who attended the screening of Black Panther on its release, believes the film is a sign of Hollywood racial acceptance. “The film was mad. Superheroes have literally taken pop culture by storm,” commented Edeki. The student also believes that the success of Black Panther will make way for more diverse productions and celebrate more successful black directors, “It has made so much money. There is such a huge audience for it.”
The African-American cast shows more opportunities and acceptance for aspiring actors. Hollywood has often been criticised for its predominance of white actors and production teams, therefore, Black Panther has set a precedent for diversity and opportunity.
Meanwhile, Troy, a new series produced by the BBC and Netflix, has also cast local Cape Town actors to play Greek gods and selected a black actor to play Zeus. Despite the negative social media response, the casting of these actors highlights how roles are becoming more diverse and are a positive step forward that both Hollywood and the film industry have made.
Black Panther’s triumph is in part due to its varied target audience and the film being seen as an ‘experience’. Fifi Olumogba, 19, enthusiastically commented that the movie had exceeded her expectations. “Not only did it fulfil its purpose of being an action film, it also consisted of underlying themes of feminism, empowerment of black people and inclusion of the African diaspora,” said Olumogba. “I believe the film will make strides in increasing diversity in Hollywood as it has open the door for many minority actors and actresses to showcase their talents.”
Not only was the film credited for its cast and writers, the soundtrack was also curated by renowned hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar. The 14-song soundtrack features a variety of successful hip-hop artists, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 chart.
Kendrick Lamar also made headlines for his generosity, hiring out entire cinemas for children to go and view the film free-of-charge. Many fans also dressed up when attending screenings of Black Panther: wearing dashikis and printed pieces, celebrating black culture and African pride.
In addition to the Marvel and superhero fans, many people are said to have watched the film due to its celebration of diversity. Videographer Kaiiy Hibbrt, 22, admitted to initially being unsure about the film due to its Marvel storyline, but had a change of heart thanks to its mainly African-American cast and writers.
“To be honest, I wasn’t too excited to see the film as I am not a big fan of superhero films,” said Hibbrt. “But as a black woman actively working in the film industry, this film needs to be celebrated as it’s a stride forward towards diversity so I will be showing my support by watching this film.”
Black Panther is on the road to becoming a real cultural movement, probably changing the future of Hollywood casting forever.