Despite only playing a supporting role in Captain America: Civil War, the prince T'Challa, aka Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, was a well-written character. Audiences quickly latched onto him as a new favorite. It's no surprise the clamor for the Black Panther movie grew louder than ever after Civil War.
Black Panther sits atop many Marvel fans' list of most anticipated movies, with good reason. This is not only because Black Panther will continue the character's story, but because of what he may do for superhero movies and fans. As the actor behind T'Challa said, Black Panther is going to be a "big deal." Here's why.
T'Challa Will Help The MCU Grow Up
Marvel movies are often dismissed as glorified Saturday morning cartoons due to the lack of stakes and the preference for spectacle over story. As fun as Ant-Man or Guardians of the Galaxy may be, seeing the same heroics over and over again gets tiring. If not for Netflix and the Russo Brothers, some people would have given up on Marvel. Not because the movies were bad, but because they don't want another wisecracking hero saving the day from another boring villain with no motivation beyond world domination/destruction.
Chadwick Boseman apparently shares this opinion, and told CBR that Black Panther will be entertaining, yet different from other Marvel movies.
"I love 'Ant-Man," Boseman said. "But for me, most of the time the darker superhero movies are the ones that I gravitate towards, that I love the most. So I’m glad that I’m not in an 'Ant-Man.' I’m glad that the tone of 'Black Panther' may be a little grittier... It’s exciting to do that."
Most Marvel movies are entertaining, but few are actually groundbreaking. The Winter Soldier and Civil War showed that when given to daring creators, Marvel's superheroes could be deeper than expected. By addressing real world politics and themes like guilt or remorse, the two Captain America movies by the Russo Brothers proved that Marvel's typically child-friendly fare can mature while keeping audiences glued to the screen.
Unlike other Marvel movie heroes, T'Challa bears the dual responsibility of ruling a nation and fending off villains from his rogues' gallery. This alone hints that Black Panther may be a more serious and personal Marvel movie, and this is more than welcome. Add in Boseman's descriptions that paint T'Challa as a flawed individual, and audiences may be in for a different kind of Marvel hero.
...That he does have a heroic aspect at the heart of a hero; of a leader. You can pull for him, because he’s merciful. And it leaves room also for him to do things that are not necessarily perfect.
From the revisionist The Dark Knight to the raunchy Deadpool, superhero movies that strayed from the formula are those that become the most influential and memorable. If Black Panther succeeds, the MCU's shift to mature territories may finally gain steam and credence.
Black Panther Represents A Diverse Future
Contrary to what a vocal minority claims, moviegoers are more open to diverse casting choices and stories than ever before. This was proven by The Fast And The Furious' continued success thanks to its diverse cast and equally diverse audience, both of which helped transform the once-minor drag racing series into one of the highest earning franchises of all time.
Black Panther is set to bring this successful formula to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with one of the most diverse casts ever seen for a superhero movie. Chadwick Boseman will be leading this roster, making him the first person of color in a Marvel movie lead role. The Black Panther star had these optimistic words regarding the movie's audience:
It’s going to be a big deal because there’s not just black people or people of African descent that want to see it [Black Panther], I think everybody wants to see it. That’s the beautiful thing. I truly believe there are more people who want to see it than don’t want to see it, especially after being here.
Diversity is no longer a dividing factor, but rather a lucrative selling point and a major draw for audiences. Given Marvel's popularity and Black Panther's African heritage, his movie may be the turning point the superhero genre desperately needs.
People of color have continually been ignored by mainstream blockbusters that are not period pieces or about slavery, but things are different now. Society as a whole is a lot more mixed than some would acknowledge, and Hollywood is finally catching up to this reality. Now, superhero movies like Suicide Squad are successfully leading the charge when it comes to giving equal opportunities and choices to both talents and audiences of color. Suicide Squad may be problematic but one thing it got right was its cast, and audiences shared David Ayer's love for a racially diverse Task Force X.
Representation is important, and helps determine a film's popularity and impact. Audiences are attracted to movies that reflect the world they live in and the people they know. The more viewers relate with the characters and events onscreen, the better the reception. Long story short, diversity sells.
It's up to director Ryan Coogler (who last made Creed) and everyone on board to make sure Black Panther lives up to its potential. Right now, what matters most is that people are more open to possible game-changers like Black Panther and the message it sends: anyone can be a superhero and nobody can say otherwise. Hopefully, Marvel realizes the importance behind one of their most anticipated movies and seizes the opportunity to make Black Panther something truly different instead of making just another superhero adventure.