Press "Enter" to skip to content

‘Black Panther’ blockbuster is game changer for African American entertainment

Damaris Lewis does a selfie with kids after watching the movie, Black Panther. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova / Daily BreezeRichard Bass, 7, gets his free poster after watching the movie, Black Panther. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova / Daily BreezeChizzy Madu, 9, stands in line after watching the movie, Black Panther. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova / Daily BreezeA boy runs past a movie poster at a screening in Long Beach. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova / Daily BreezeKennedi Bryant, right, holds her arms up along with Owin Ayala, left, and Isabel Dehoyas, front, at an IMAX screening in Long Beach. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova / Daily BreezeA group of kids holds their popcorn and sodas before entering an IMAX theater in Long Beach. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova / Daily BreezeLawrence Carter, 22, a mentor with HOPE Culture, a San Bernardino, has started a GoFundMe account to take neighborhood children to see “Black Panther.” Courtesy of Lawrence CarterMovie goers walk by a poster for Black Panther outside Harkins Theater in Redlands. Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio/The SunShow Caption of Expand
There is an African drum beat across the land this weekend that is so powerful, so popular and so purposeful it could change entertainment as well as our hearts and minds.
It’s a story of what it means to be black in America, how each one of us can triumph over adversity, the enduring legacy of slavery, the importance of leading with wisdom and forgiveness.
Surprisingly, it’s also a Marvel movie.
Yes, this game changer is both heavy-weight fable and a rock ‘em sock ‘em special effects blockbuster called, “Black Panther.”
If you haven’t heard the commercial drumbeat, you haven’t turned on your television. Deadline Hollywood on Saturday projected “Black Panther” to bring in over the four-day Presidents weekend a staggering $213 million.
African American organizations are buying blocks of tickets for families and holding discussion groups on what the movie means for individuals as well as for this nation.
Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles hosted a screening on Saturday. Rapper T.I. and Walmart collaborated and handed out free tickets for five screenings. Fandango, the online ticket website, reported the film was fourth in all-time early ticket sales.
Sitting among a packed and diverse audience Friday night, 11-year-old Payton Jones shuddered when a bad guy won a fight, rooted for the superhero, Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, and clapped and giggled when Black Panther and his girlfriend finally reunited and (oops, spoiler alert) kissed.
At an after-movie gathering at Christ Our Redeemer Church in Irvine, Payton said the movie reminded her, “You don’t have to look or act a certain way.” Another theme she found was, “Don’t leave your people behind.”
Yes, this $200-million movie is indeed like no other blockbuster.
First, it has an actual storyline, several storylines in fact and each one runs deep. Second, there’s, like, two white guys, one an evil Afrikaner, the other a sweet CIA agent played by a former hobbit.
“I felt exhilarated,” 88-year-old Evelyn Whitlock exclaimed after seeing the movie. She recalled watching movies as a little girl in which caucasians appeared in black face, when dark-skinned African American actors were usually portrayed as scary or dumb and lazy.
Over the years, Whitlock allowed she’s seen more African American actors in lead roles, but usually they are light-skin. “Black Panther” actors have deeper hues, she said, and hailed the film as “a lecture in a theatrical format.”
Payton Jones’ mother, Hannah, puts it a differently. “When I was little, it was bad to be African. Now that’s erased.”
But don’t get the idea “Black Panther” is preachy. It is action-packed, romantic at times, cinematically beautiful and boldly sly.
Actor Winston Duke as M’Baku, leader of the fictitious Jabari mountain tribe, plays with old-school stereotypes when he threatens he will feed the CIA agent to his children.
After a tense pause, M’Bakui roars with laughter and makes clear he’s joking.
“We’re vegetarian.”

‘Black Panther’ comic before ‘Party”
If you were around in the 1960s, it’s difficult to believe that a mainstream movie released by Walt Disney Co. — of all companies — would ever be called, “Black Panther.”
In 1967, two-dozen members of the Black Panther Party marched on the capitol in Sacramento carrying rifles. They were disarmed and taken away by police.
But what is sometimes forgotten is that the marchers had broken no laws, were released and given back their rifles. That legal demonstration of defiance was typical Black Panther Party.
While in some circles the Black Panther Party is remembered for violence, the party was very much about helping. In Oakland, for example, the party offered “Free Breakfast for Children.” With leaders such as Angela Davis, it came to embrace women empowerment.
Ryan Coogler, the first black director to helm a Marvel movie, doesn’t steer away from the party in “Black Panther.” Instead, he embraces it.
In honor of spoiled give-aways, I will only mention the film has bookends in Oakland that echo the Black Panther Party.
Still, the homage to the Black Panther Party is all Coogler.
Marvel Comics creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby gave birth to the Black Panther character in July 1966. Bobby Seale and Huey Newton formed the party three months later.
Back then, the Black Panther comic character was way cool. But today, he’s even more cool and far more high-tech. So is the fictional land of Wakanda where high tech matters.
Alyssa Simmons is 15 years old and loved the movie. Her favorite character was Black Panther’s half-sister, Shuri, played by Letitia Wright.
Why Shuri? Simmons said she admires Shuri’s genius-level IQ, her skills as a physician as well as being a high-tech expert and her sense of humor.
The punchline in one of Shuri’s scenes comes when she first sees the battered CIA agent.
“Another white boy for us to fix up.”
Money matters
Regardless of how well the film is executed, what matters in Hollywood is money and whether it can continue to hold audiences. In previous Marvel movies, return viewings by fanboys has guaranteed box office success.
Will fanboys flock to “Black Panther?” I think so.
On the movie website, Rotten Tomatoes, professional critics gave it a whopping 97 percent rating. Audiences, however, only rated it at 74 percent.
But online ratings mean nothing. Many of the audience ratings on Rotten Tomatoes are from people who admit they haven’t seen the movie and are only waging a racial  battle.
One hate group earlier this month, Variety reported, urged for Facebook and Rotten Tomatoes campaigns to dismiss the film. According to the British news organization, The Independent, Twitter this weekend banned online trolls falsely claiming they were beat up at movie showings.
These asinine efforts appear to have fizzled. RelishMix, a social media analyzing company, reports that since the film opened Thursday night, Twitter hashtags for #BlackPanther and @TheBlackPanther have set a movie record.
Derrick Lyles is director of youth programs at Christ our Redeemer Church in Irvine and lived in Ghana for six months. After the film, we discussed how the film shined a light on differences as well as connections between African Americans and those who grew up in the motherland.
To demonstrate, Lyles brought his hands together and intersected his fingers. “As people with different backgrounds, the movie helps show us how to deal with our blackness.”
A few years ago, I visited with Stan Lee at his home in the Hollywood hills, rode with him for several hours and, together, we did an onstage question and answer.
Lee was especially proud of his ground-breaking Black Panther character, and he’s made it clear he is especially proud of this film.
What do I think of the movie? Five stars.
Source: Oc Register

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: