Black Panther and the Birth of Afrofuturism

Scenes from the movie

Black Panther, which premiered in January, has taken the movie world by storm. Hitting the $700 million mark within a fortnight of being released, it is one of the fastest selling comic-based movies ever to be released. While just about anything comic-based is always a huge hit, and has even spurred on the release of online casino and other games that focus on the topic, Black Panther brings something different to the table. What you find an online casino has to offer will be more your standard super hero fare, rather than what you’ll see in this incredible new movie. For now, any way.

It wasn’t only the response from the United States that stunned, but on opening throughout the world Black Panther was the third largest movie in South Africa, and the biggest in the movie industry in both East and West Africa. This surprised many critics who believed that a movie with mostly black actors, a black writer, and a black producer, would not be as well received as other mainstream movies.

Reach of The Black Panther

The movies reach is so much more than simply changing the mind-set of the Hollywood elite, and the potential the movie has to inspire and motivate underrepresented groups, specifically black Americans and Africans has been recognized by some very influential people.

Imagine for a moment a black child, who has never seen a superhero, or a technologically advanced black nation fight, win and overcome obstacles, which they can relate to. A child who has never seen a super hero who looks like them. Young girls who have never seen a powerful black woman portrayed as a weapon’s specialist, or a princess. Suddenly there is a group of people who can watch a person with their skin tone, fight evil and save a nation, be portrayed in a positive, beautiful, and strong light, where people can watch an African country as the happiest, most advanced place on earth.

When last was an African country portrayed as anything other than a pit of starving humanity? A movie highlighting anything other than a black nations struggle? Black Panther has broken the mould and is a celebration of success and incorporates many of the political questions the world is currently struggling with. It does all this without trying to force an opinion upon the viewer.

This has not only been effectual for people of colour, it also has the potential to give new perspective and influence young children of other races as well. From this perspective, this movie has the potential to be so powerful that a GoFundMe campaign was started to assist kids to go and watch it.

Black Panther has not just been enjoyed by black moviegoers; the demographic of viewers has been diverse across all creed and colour, forever knocking out any belief that a black hero-based movie would only sell to a predominantly black audience.

The Storyline

Black Panther is set in the fictional African country of Wakanda, and focuses on a young son of the dead King. Wakanda is viewed as a poverty stricken, insignificant, backward village. When in truth, Wakanda is a city so advanced it chooses to hide itself.

So much of the movie draws from African culture, including the use of a King and his young son off to fight the good fight. The use of African music and even African languages really has the power to break down barriers and inspire. Not to mention the triumph over evils, where failure could result in global disaster. At a time when the African continent is looking for a leader, it is a fitting release.

Black Panther’s Popularity

The excitement surrounding the release of movie is only the most recent in a conversation that has been taking place for a while and a surge in black popular culture. There is a focus on telling the stories that expand on black people lives. This is exciting, as there is a shift away from the focus on black people as slaves in historical movies, or as gangsters, struggling in the inner city. For a long time, the Hollywood focus has been the African American in a supporting role. Making the release of a movie with an almost entirely black cast, centred on a futuristic African story, a welcome and long overdue addition to the cinema menu.

Black Panther accomplishes all the above under a franchise banner that is basically a money-printing machine. It has accomplished it well, pulling in fans based on genre alone; more fans attracted to the cultural back-story, and every day movie goers, looking for ‘something that looks good’. It’s been a real game changer and it’s set the stage for a whole new genre of movies to come to the fore.

YouTube: