Black Panther was the first black superhero in mainstream American comics when he debuted in the 1966 issue of The Fantastic Four and is the alter ego of T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, a mythical and technologically advanced African country. Today the Black Panther movie has had a four-day opening weekend of $200 million one of the best ever for Marvel, the movie industry (e.g. film director) predicted that it would comfortably reach the $900m mark after a worldwide release, more than 50 years after he first appeared.
Originally a film version of the comic starring Wesley Snipes was scheduled as early as 1992, however, despite several attempts, a script never came to fruition, with further attempts to get the production of the ground never materialising. The comic was so popular amongst the young black population that it would really only be a matter of time before the film would become a reality.
As cast members came together in 2016 director Ryan Coogler a lifelong devotee of the Black Panther comic series was recruited to take the up the helm of this production, principal photography started in January to April 2017 with the first premiere on January 29th, 2018.
Ryan Coogler’s track record also included Fruitvale Station (2013) for which he won the top jury and audience prize at Sundance, the film then screened in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes 2013 and won Best First Feature. Other film credits include Creed (2015) and now Black Panther, all three films he has worked alongside his collaborator and muse Micheal B. Jorden.
Past cinema portrayals of Africa have depicted a place that is often destitute and in a state of disarray and famine, Wakanda provides the polar opposite with a technologically advanced continent that supersedes everyone else and continues to prosper as it manages to keep the outside world at bay.
There is a sense of history and remorse for those who did not live in Wakanda or left the secret land and have suffered because of this, here is a land that was never ravaged, looted and drained of its natural resources and wealth, resulting instead in a vibrant and beautiful Africa that is a secret superpower.
What happens when the world and society deprives you of opportunity, society deprives you of family and love and you’re a young man growing up trying to find your place when you could have been king and now you are struggling when people look at you as a criminal and someone of destruction and still respecting what that persons experience is – Forrest Whittaker
But there is also a bigger more important message about humanity and love for the human race that is addressed and depicted through the character of Erik Killmonger, played by Micheal B. Jorden who provides a compelling villain for the King.
There is also a huge recognition of the female power in this film and the women, the King has his own personal army of female warriors led by Okoye played by the Danai Gurira and the Queen Mother Rhomoda played by the wonderful Angela Basset. Women are warriors, queens and inventors in the land of Wakanda.
Black Panther Box Office
As Black Panther gathers momentum it joins a host of recent successes from Ryans contemporaries Jorden Peele and Ava Duverny who are telling stories from a black cultural perspective, not only does it give young black audiences the kind of representation they have been yearning for but is also reflected in some stunning box office returns.
Hollywood has ignored the power of these markets and can no longer argue that films and story of colour do not have a big enough audience to be profitable, in fact, it was Hollywood that didn’t actually have a strong enough imagination and especially in the way they have cast characters of colour in the past.
Black Panther is the result of a hugely talented cast, director and crew that have bought this vision together, a well made and enjoyable film that has already become a worldwide phenomenon already and is likely to hit the $1bn box office mark.
As the film breaks all sorts of records following a remarkable 4-day opening weekend and rumours that Chadwick Boseman has signed a five-picture contract with Marvel, a sequel is probably in the works as we speak.
So what storylines do we have available to us?
Black Panther actually goes on to fall in love and marry Storm another popular and high profile black character from the Marvel Universe. Their wedding is attended by almost all the characters from the universe and they go onto have a son named Azari.
However, after six years of marriage – or four months in comic book time – the two lovers found themselves on opposite sides of a fight. Storm supported the X-Men over the people of Wakanda and Black Panther found her act unforgivable. So, he secretly ended their relationship and asked the high priest to annul their marriage without telling her. Eventually, he broke the news to her during a face-to-face battle in AVS: VS Vol 1 #5.
Throughout his journey, he is loyal to Wakanda and this remains his first priority.