I go to the movies to be entertained, not to be a movie critic. The point for me is mindless entertainment — to give my non-stop mind a break and let something else fill the void.
Black Panther did not disappoint. And after the movie was over, my mind went into overdrive about what this movie means.
The Marvel (owned by Disney) superhero epic earned an estimated $387 million in its opening weekend — it’s already the highest-grossing film of all time by a black director (Ryan Coogler, who also directed “Creed”).
As Jamil Smith wrote in Time magazine, “For a wary and risk-averse film business, led largely by white film executives who have been historically predisposed to greenlight projects featuring characters who look like them, ‘Black Panther’ will offer proof that a depiction of a reality of something other than whiteness can make a ton of money.”
I watched the movie with a white friend who listens religiously to news radio. He remarked that until he listened to all the news and commentary surrounding the movie, it never dawned on him the significance of a mostly Black cast.
Times are a-changin’.
The worldwide success of “Wonder Woman” last year rid the movie business of the long-held notion that female superheroes don’t sell.
And speaking of women — I appreciated the numerous roles of strong women in Black Panther.
The lead character, King T’Challa, is surrounded by an elite force of women warriors called the Dora Milaje, led by general Okoye. She is tough and fiercely loyal. T’Challa’s love interest, Nakia, is a warrior goddess and spy. His sister, Princess Shuri, is funny and possibly the smartest woman in the world and his mother, the Queen, played by Angela Bassett, is stoic throughout the film as the matriarch of the kingdom.
And it’s interesting to note too that the main female characters are all dark-skinned Black women, bucking colorism — the discrimination, bias, or prejudice leveled against folks with darker skin tones. By having this many dark-skinned women centered in the film, “Black Panther” represents a group of women that is historically disregarded in all forms of media.
There’s no white savior in this movie either. In fact, one of the best lines in the movie is, “Great! Another broken white boy for us to fix!” uttered by Shuri, played by Letitia Wright.
As for Asians, there’s a little something in it for us, too. The red and gold costumes of the Dora Milaje were partly inspired by Filipino artifacts. One of Marvel’s senior visual development illustrators, Anthony Francisco, was born and raised in the Philippines. In an interview, he said that he took inspiration from his relative’s home, which was filled with African artifacts and Filipino tribal decor.
Hollywood, take a cue from Disney.
The new “Star Wars” movies (Disney owns Lucasfilm) have been paragons of diverse casting. Rogue One topped $388 million worldwide. “Coco” by Pixar (also owned by Disney) centered on the festive Mexican holiday honoring the dead and with characters voiced by an all-Latino cast. Before that came “Moana,” which gave Disney a Pacific Islander princess.
Diversity and inclusions sells.
Now, for Crazy Rich Asians….