I have been a fan of comic books for quite some time. Seeing people use their special gifts and talents always made me feel like I could do anything. The problem, however, is that many of the characters I grew up watching (and reading about) didn't look like me. Some of them were blue, green, red, and even gray, but most of them were "white." I guess in the minds of the "powers that be," the idea of having heroes who were "black" or "brown" was just too far fetched for anyone to believe.
Fast forward to the announcement of a stand-alone Black Panther film. The anticipation quickly began to build, even among those who were not typically into "super-hero" movies. Everyone involved in the film, from the actors to those working behind the scenes, were all incredibly respected, but how would it all come together? Then, the screenings started to happen. Unlike other films, people weren't just providing their opinion on the movie, they were expressing the importance of it. I didn't really get it until I actually had the chance to see it.
From the opening scenes, my wife and I were definitely fixated on everything Wakanda (the fictional place in Africa most of the characters are from) had to offer. The film was entitled, "Black Panther," but it was about far more than the character Chadwick Boseman played. Each character was diverse, and at some level, we were able to witness some of the internal conflicts they had to deal with. All of the characters had layers, which made each of them relatable.
There were moments in the film where the conversations the characters had seemed to be lifted from my life. Those moments gave me the opportunity to reflect on my own personal battles. Generally, "comic book movies" don't cause you to have to deal with your emotions, but Black Panther certainly did that on many occasions. The emotions I had to deal with were not all sad, though. I also had to contain myself as I dealt with an almost overwhelming abundance of joy from what I was watching. Characters of color were not stereotypes in this film. Black men weren't the egotistical, dumb, non-sensitive, inarticulate brutes we are normally portrayed as. The women were nowhere near being the weak, bitter, angry, desperate people who couldn't get along with each other. They were also not the ones who always needed saving. Without giving anything away, I will say the Wakanda would not be where it is if it weren't for the women.
All of this factors into why this movie was so important; it positively speaks to people who are often not represented and overlooked. It shows that we, as people of color, should be proud of where we're from. It shows we're brilliant and impactful. It confirms it's okay for us to be expressive with our emotions as we deal with our problems. We are not second-class citizens, and our voices are not to be ignored. Our value in this world will no longer be diminished, and the excellence displayed in every aspect of this cinematic achievement of wonder, is just a sign of things to come!