We have heard the maxim “style over substance”, yet in some cases there is no need to choose one over the other, when you can get both in equally healthy portions. The Los Angeles premiere of Black Panther, the latest Marvel super hero movie, had style to spare so let’s start there.
Beauty and poise were on display with the attendees coming out dressed like royalty: African royalty–let that sink in for a moment. The vibrant colours, tantalizing styles and tastefully form-fitting cut gowns and suits of the premier were representative of a culture all too under-represented in Hollywood and world media in general.
The display was more than just eye-candy but served as a positive challenge to our expectations as to what “looking good” looks like. Admittedly, there was much embellishment and free license with the styles and accessories. The outfits were not merely “traditional” African dress, which is fitting, as the fictional country of Wakanda is the work of a creative, futuristic African-Stylized vision of which much more could be said…
Instead, let’s now look at the substance. Black Panther is based on a Marvel comic book that happens to share the same name with the African-American quasi-militant political group that mainly operated in the 60’s and 70’s. The comic has nothing to do with the Black Power group yet is poised to leave a comparable mark in history with the release of the Black Panther film. The hero is Prince T’Challa, the soon-to-be king of Wakanda, a fictional near utopian African country.
Historically it is the first “all black” film with an unprecedented budget and backing of Hollywood. According to lead actor Chadwick Boseman, “Its not just a movie, its become its own thing. It’s a movement.”
The significance of having the director, writers and vast majority of the cast be of African descent should not be understated. Yet, Black Panther is not a “black” film. It is an international big budget film which is an historic step in the right direction that announces to the world that this is how you treat a people and a culture right in media.