Why 'Black Panther' Matters
I am a black nerd. I grew up in the suburbs, I listen to Alternative music, I have been to San Diego Comic Con and I love all things pop culture related, especially cinema. I studied film theory at Wright State University. My passion runs deep for the craft of creating media for the masses, but it has never felt as personal as Black Panther.
Images provided by Marvel Studios
To be honest, I have found it depressing to love something so much and feel like it doesn’t appreciate and love you back. This is often the case with films telling black stories. Slavery and oppression have been in the zeitgeist since filmmaking began. 12 years a Slave, for example, was fantastic, but I cannot say I enjoyed the experience. It is taxing to always leave the theater sad and angry. I will always support creators of color, but I didn’t know how much I needed Ryan Coogler’s work in my life. Creed was a cool sports movie which spoke to me, someone who had never seen a Rocky film all the way through. I have since, because I became invested in Rocky’s world, thanks to Creed.
In Black Panther, Coogler created a narrative that expresses the emotions I have felt as a minority in this country in a beautiful, well developed, digestible Marvel film. Black Panther's characters have complicated internal struggles, but they are not portrayed as weak or without agency. They make choices that speak to who they are and why.
I have seen Black Panther twice. The second time felt much more intimate. I appreciated the actors’ nuances and the subtle drama that unfolded inside of an Afrofuturistic world. For the first time, and hopefully not the last time, a filmgoing experience was created for me. As I thought back on the film, it made me remember growing up and listening to 70s funk with my father and the appreciation for artists who take pride in Pan-African history. Groups like Parliament Funkadelic showed pride in being of African heritage, of what our history was, and what it can become in a thought- provoking way. I feel as though Black Panther has its origins rooted in that style of storytelling. My expectations are now high for more stories told stories told from this perspective. I may even do it myself. I want to see a black, female, disabled super hero, like me.
Dara is a film critic, podcast host and contributor at reelcultured.com