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This past Saturday, Entertainment Weekly released an interview with Chadwick Boseman where he talks about his upcoming Black Panther. The film, directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station), focuses on Boseman’s King T’Challa of Wakanda. T’Challa, also known as Black Panther, first appeared in the MCU in this year’s Captain America: Civil War, to widespread excitement and acclaim.
In this interview, Boseman describes T’Challa as “an anti-hero, sort of.” He goes on further clarify, “I feel like although he is a superhero, he is a super anti-hero.”
This goes hand in hand with other statements Boseman has made regarding the tone of the film. Speaking to Comic Book Review at SDCC, he stated:
“It’s funny, because on one hand, the Marvel movies that I’ve liked the most are the ones that are funny. I love “Ant-Man.” But for me, most of the time the darker superhero movies are the ones that I gravitate towards, that I love the most. So I’m glad that I’m not in an “Ant-Man.” I’m glad that the tone of [“Black Panther”] may be a little grittier. I just wanted to establish that from the beginning, that that’s what we were doing. That that’s what I intend to do. I feel like we’ll end up in a place that I’ve always wanted to be when I look at superhero movies. Those are the ones I like the most. It’s exciting to do that.”
Boseman’s Panther added a lot of gravitas to a movie that sorely needed it.
Providing a similar catharsis as Batman did in this year’s Batman v Superman, he chooses to show mercy to a villain who really does not ‘deserve’ it. Instead, he says:
“Vengeance has consumed you. It’s consuming them. I am done letting it consume me.”
Fine words for a fine character.
Black Panther continues to shape up to be a pivotal film for the superhero genre. As the second, after Halle Berry’s much-maligned Catwoman, major superhero picture with a black actor in the title role, people will scrutinize every decision made with a fine-tooth comb.
This comes out of a lack of superhero properties that focus on black characters. Audiences and critics alike expect high quality for them in a way that they just don’t for films focused on white men. A similar problem exists for female-led franchises.
The solution, of course, is to make more superhero films — and more films in general — that focus on people of color and/or women. A very recent USC study found that 33.5% of speaking roles in film and TV go to women, and 28.3% of roles go to people of color. The numbers are even worse behind the camera.
Black Panther doesn’t perpetuate that problem, with both cast and creative team dominated by black voices.
Boseman will star alongside Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) and Michael B. Jordan (Creed). Black Panther will premier July 6, 2018. No details on plot have so far surfaced, but Ryan Coogler also wrote the screenplay.
Overall, Black Panther signifies a departure from the norms of both the genre and the industry. It has the potential to spark a new wave of films for black superheroes. Should it succeed, we could see something like a Storm film in the next decade.
For audiences, this can do nothing but good.
Suicide Squad proved that a market exists for audiences of color. Forty-one percent of Suicide Squad’s opening gross came from that market.
I’d argue that that makes the success of a movie like Black Panther a win for the industry, as well.
Of course, we have to wait for two years until its release. I, for one, look forward to it with bated breath!