Refreshing Representation: Black Panther’s Impact On Hollywood

Samantha Higgins, Staff Writer

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This weekend is an especially vital weekend for Marvel Studios with their highly anticipated movie, Black Panther. The fast-paced action superhero movie follows T’Challa, the King of Wakanda and the Black Panther himself, who returns to his home after his father is murdered and attempts to reclaim his status as King of Wakanda, an extraordinarily advanced African nation. While the synopsis sounds thrilling, the most exciting part of Black Panther is that it predominantly features black cast, a first for Marvel Studios.

Black Panther is bound to have a successful opening today; overwhelmingly positive reviews have already begun to roll in — an effect similar to Wonder Woman’s premiere. With an astounding Rotten Tomatoes rating of 98%, it is evident that Marvel Studios has hit a home-run through a captivating and entertaining film that deviates from the formulaic superhero genre.

Junior Max Wilson remarks that, “up until now, for some reason, all the Marvel movies have had a very grey tone to them, and they’ve had a very limited universe. But now with Black Panther, they’ve changed up the palette so it’s going to be more colorful, like Wakanda is going to be very interesting visually.”

What many fans of Black Panther have noted is that Wakanda currently holds all of the world’s vibranium. Vibranium is an extremely valuable, fictional metal in the Marvel Universe. )True Marvel fans will know that the metal vibranium is what makes up Captain America’s impenetrable shield.) The addition of the King of Wakanda will certainly create some interesting plots and conflicts for the other Marvel movies.

In terms of race, Marvel fans and movie-goers alike will be thrilled to see the refreshing representation in Black Panther. Senior Michelle Yu thinks “it’s really an excellent time to show or make this movie with a predominantly black cast just because of this movement we’re going through where we’re all about representation”; Black Panther’s casting “goes to show how we’ve progressed as an entertainment industry and as a society.”

What does this mean for the future of Hollywood movies in general? Given the continued success and progressive nature of Marvel films, DC Comics, Marvel’s biggest rival, might be facing some very tough competition ahead of them. Hopefully, Marvel’s lucrative films led by underrepresented leads will motivate other studios to do the same with their movies. Senior Pooja Balar believes that the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) may “already be scheming to hop on this bandwagon and start making movies like this in the future.”

It is clear that Marvel has made yet another box office hit and was able to create an engaging and diverse addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The future for Marvel movies certainly looks promising.