— Chadwick Boseman (@chadwickboseman) July 24, 2016
What Wonder Woman lacks in color, Black Panther more than makes up for in straight up blackness. At Comic-Con this weekend, the movie’s director, Ryan Coogler, announced that supporting Chadwick Boseman in the flick’s title role will be Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, and Danai Gurira.
Jordan will play Erik Killmonger, with Nyong’o starring as Nakia, and Gurira taking on the tole of Okoye. That talent lineup makes Black Panther’s cast 90% African or African-American and, honestly, the last time we saw a feature-length film this black with this much buzz was The Butler. Given the stark contrast in narratives –subservience versus super heroism — black audiences are already waiting in anticipation to not only witness the feature for themselves but also the reception from national and international audiences.
Coogler knows what a big deal the movie’s casting and the support of Marvel Studios is. Speaking to the task before him this weekend, he said:
“As a Black comic-book fan, I couldn’t help but to be excited about that. And it’s really overwhelming to think about, honestly, but I’m really excited about us opening up the world a little more.”
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige also made it clear that this move isn’t just a one-off to pacify audiences demanding more diversity on-screen.
“As the comics have done, we want everyone to recognize themselves in every portion of our universe,” he stated. “With the Black Panther and Spider-Man casts especially, it really feels like this is absolutely what has to happen and continue.”
Yes it absolutely is. While the appeal of rom-coms with mostly all African-American casts has been demonstrated with the success of movies like The Best Man Holiday and Think Like a Man Too, Black Panther presents the greatest opportunity to lay claims that you can’t sell a movie with a black lead to a wide audience unless the actor is Denzel Washington or Will Smith — and further that an all-black cast is completely unmarketable — to rest. Marvel comics are a billion dollar movie franchise — $7.7 billion in the U.S. alone and $18 billion worldwide. If Boseman, in all of his superhuman blackness, is as well received with his all-black supporting cast as he was in Captain America: Civil War this summer, it might not be so far-fetched for audiences and Hollywood studios to also open up to the idea of seeing our humanness in other lead roles on the big screen.
And let’s not forget the blackness with this series doesn’t stop at this film or with its cast. On the actual comic book side, “Ta-Nehisi Coates is teaming up with Roxane Gay, Yona Harvey, and Alitha Martinez for a second monthly Black Panther comic book, Black Panther: World of Wakanda,” The Inquisitr reports. This marks the first time Marvel has had two Black women writers for a series and another black woman, Afua Richardson, will also be contributing artwork for the comic. Basically, it doesn’t get any blacker than this.