Since premiering two weeks ago, “Black Panther” has garnered a record, breaking near $700 million in worldwide ticket sales and $400 million in domestic sales, but has the movie succeeded for the right reasons?
Considering most of the revenue came from American audiences, it is no surprise that many have started trying to determine why exactly “Black Panther” has managed to gain so much attention. Breaking Marvel movie records is more important to pay attention to when Black Panther as a character is much lesser known than say, Thor or the Incredible Hulk.
Many have turned to blaming the film’s success on the social climate in America. Large portions of Americans have been listing the president as a racist or a bigot, and there have been more occurrences of racism cropping up in 2017 than in years past. There have even been reports of assaults outside screenings of the movie, though these have been almost entirely debunked. So an almost entirely all-black cast has no doubt drawn eyes and audiences to screenings.
The issue, however, is that most believe that the sole reason many are traveling to theaters to see the movie is specifically because of its almost entirely all-black casting. The question being raised by these complaints is ‘Is it OK for a movie to draw in fans strictly because of its cast’s race or gender?”
In short: Yes, of course it is OK.
“Black Panther” is an envelope pusher, and deserves every bit of praise for going out of its way to promote diverse casts in American films. Hollywood has been lowering the artistic ceiling for decades by showing a lack of diversity in film. Those who question success because of a cast’s race or gender need to reassess, because they have clearly focused on the wrong aspect of film.
If a film’s ultimate goal is to make the viewer think, then “Black Panther” excels on every level.
Furthermore, any who have seen the movie will recognize the immense talent found in each member of the cast. Michael B. Jordan finds more depth and character in Killmonger than any Marvel villain before him, and the supporting cast kills it in every second of screen time. If anything, the film’s lead is the weakest point of the movie by bringing an occasionally dull performance. Even then, star Chadwick Boseman has moments of true unforgettable badassery.
One viewing makes it clear that these actors are not just in the film because of their race; they are here because they are performers that would even make P. T. Barnum proud.
It is hard to think a cast’s race in film is anything worth sparking controversy over, but there will always be those looking to start an argument.
Some have also pointed out their belief that “Black Panther” does not deserve the mountains of praise it has received because it has been ‘overhyped.’ Put simply, some do not like the movie.
From a subjective stance, it is OK to just not enjoy a movie. This movie does not feel like any Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie before it, so those hoping to get more of the same will likely be disappointed. Its connections to the MCU are rare, giving it a feeling of isolation.
This is exactly the kind of thing pushing for large ticket sales though. Almost the entire movie takes place inside Wakanda. Wakanda in and of itself is secluded and hidden from the world, so if anything, it makes sense that Captain America or Iron Man never come in to disrupt the movie.
“Black Panther” is fresh, not only in the context of the MCU, but it is game changer in the context of American filmmaking as a whole. Whatever someone thinks about the movie, there is no argument that it is one of the most different films movies have seen in quite a while. In art, it pays to be different for the sake of a message. Different is unique, different is new, different is original and different is what pushes artistry forward.
“Black Panther” is different, and it is a better movie for it.