More than just a movie

Black Panther helps expand representation in Hollywood


Marvel Studios

Black Panther is the newest Marvel movie that features a majority black cast.

Brooke Colombo, Editor-in-chief

In the midst of Black History Month, Marvel released a majority-black cast movie, Black Panther on Friday, that’s expected to gross at least 150 million at box offices in its opening weekend in the U.S. and Canada.

In the wake of black power movements like Black Lives Matter, Black Panther has been highly anticipated by those frustrated by a lack of representation of people of color in media and movies.

“I feel like there’s a lot of under representation in Hollywood,” senior Sisi Simo said. “There needs to be more roles with a strong, black female lead, and not just putting black women in roles of the funny girl instead of the love interest. It’s important to show kids that there is black excellence, and Black Panther portrays black excellence and it oozes black culture; It’s like the pinnacle of representation.”

Black Panther’s release is significant to senior Dajaun Gibbs.

“We celebrate white culture almost every day with politics, movies, classrooms, neighborhoods, social status,” Gibbs said. “There’s always been obstacles to stop people of color from just succeeding in life. For us to have a superhero movie with a brand this big is really impactful.”

Black Panther may not be the overall first majority-black cast movie, with films like Tyler Perry’s movies, Moonlight, and Straight Outta Compton, but it is expected to have more of an impact with its projected gross revenue.

“They started off with Iron Man, then Captain America, the Hulk, and all of those, so [Black Panther] already has this brand that shows people the movie is gonna be good, because it’s Marvel and Marvel doesn’t disappoint,” Gibbs said. “It helps shift the culture into being more diverse rather than looking into stereotypes.”

Another thing that sets it apart from other black movies is its depiction of black people as royal and strong in comparison to other movies.

“People make jokes out of Tyler Perry movies now, because you see the ghetto grandma, or ghetto this, and black people in poverty or in the hood, and they show black people struggling,” Simo said. “Even though we do have our problems, we’re very rich in culture. Not only is it a superhero movie, but it showing African royalty; it’s about culture and bringing to light how beautiful our culture is.”

Some believe the success of Black Panther, with the movie grossing 25.2 million dollars opening night, that the rest of Hollywood will soon follow suit with more representation. In addition, Black people are 21 percent more likely to see movies than the general market, which could further entice more movies to increase representations.

“For us to have a superhero movie with a brand this big is really impactful,” Gibbs said. “It just shows taking a step in the right direction and a step towards more equality.”

For mother-to-be, Precalculus teacher Kortney Smith, this representation of heroic blacks can be essential to young children.

“A lot of times little kids growing up of color, they don’t see people who look like them, and then they don’t know how to dream bigger,” Smith said. “The fact that my child and kids after my kid will see that somebody of color can be a superhero, can be technologically advanced, can do all these great things, it’s very inspiring, because as a little girl I didn’t have that.”

Even though black representation may be on the rise, Simo stresses that the impending changes are just a sign of equality, not superiority.

“I feel like it’s time for us to all just share the wealth and embrace the culture, not take anything over,” Simo said. “This movie isn’t saying we only like black movies now and that everything should be black, but it just feels good to be in the same position as movies like La La Land and others are.”