The countdown has begun to one of the most anticipated superhero films in movie history. Marvel’s Black Panther hits theaters Friday, February 16, 2018. This game changing history making film is breaking advance ticket sales records and showcases pretty much an all-black everything. This movie is blackity-black and folks are loving it. In case you thought this major movie event couldn’t get any better, check out this cheat sheet or primer if you will pulled together by Kevin E. Ross, Chief Brand Manager (and all-around badass) for Twoguard Media Group. Some folks were confusing the Black Panther Party with the Marvel superhero film, so Ross decided enough was enough and to pull together a short guide so we won’t be out here looking and sounding all crazy.
As you pull together your cosplay gear in preparation for your slow and steady strut into movie history Thursday night if you’re lucky and Friday thereafter, make sure you check out Kevin’s primer of Black Panther – the movie and comic. It’s short, sweet and like T’Challa, packs a powerful punch. See you at the movies. – Nsenga
So why is Marvel’s “Black Panther” really such an important film?
* As of today, the movie has pre-sold more tickets than any other superhero film in history.
* It currently carries a critics rating of 95% positive, which is almost unheard of.
* It is also the first big-budget superhero film to feature black heroes (Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o), black villains (Michael B. Jordan, Winston Duke), a black filmmaker (Coogler also gave us the brilliant film “Fruitvale Station” and the electrifying “Creed”) black screenwriters (Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, of American Crime Story), a black executive producer (Captain America: Civil War‘s Nate Moore) and an overwhelmingly black supporting cast and crew.
* 90% of advance ticket buyers, regardless of race, said they are looking forward to a “different kind of superhero film” and to the movies “positive imagery and messages” (source: Fandango)
I’ve had recent conversations with a number of people who, though willing and excited to support the movie, really don’t have much idea about it aside from the pre-release hype and information.
So, being that I am a Black Panther and comic book fan (cool nerd), here is an abbreviated cheat sheet for those who may need it:
1) The Black Panther (real name:T’Challa) is the first mainstream black superhero ever. He was created by Marvel Comics and the team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the same two responsible for heroes like Thor, the Fantastic Four, and Captain America.
2) Created in 1966 during the turbulent Civil Rights era, he is the first black superhero not created as a “token”, a dependent, or a sidekick. This was considered extremely controversial for the time period. He predates Captain America’s Falcon (1969) and Luke Cage (1971). He also preceded the revolutionary activist group the Black Panther Party by 3 months (he was introduced in July of 1966, and the Black Panther Party in October of 1966. They were not connected)
3) T’challa ( his real name), is also the ruler of a fictional African kingdom called Wakanda (population 6,000,000). Wakanda is considered one of the wealthiest nations on Earth as well as one of the most technologically advanced. Imagine if Disney World’s Tomorrowland and the Rainforest Cafe merged.
4) Wakanda’s wealth is the result of a meteorite that crashed on to the continent 10,000 years ago. Composed of a rare alien material called Vibranium, the metal is sought by many in the world for its scientific applications and its military capabilities. Vibranium is only available in Wakanda, thus the country keeps itself closed and shielded from the outside world. Vibranium basically absorbs any energy directed towards it and holds it like a sponge. Imagine buildings that wouldn’t crumble under the force of an earthquake, or soldiers protected against explosions from grenades and other explosive devices. Wakanda does export other commodities such as coal, diamonds, and technology, which contributes to its worth.
5) Wakanda has tons of Vibranium in underground storage. One gram of Vibranium is worth $10,000. That means Captain America’s 12-pound shield, which is composed of the material, is worth just over $54 million dollars.
6) Being the monarch of the world’s richest nation also makes you rich. T’Challa’s net worth is $90.7 trillion dollars, which makes him richer than Batman‘s Bruce Wayne (9.2 billion) or fellow Marvel running mate Tony “Iron Man” Stark (12.4 billion). By a lot.
7) In the comics, the Black Panther is also one of the most well-respected men in the world. He is a combination of nobility (Thor), patriotism (Captain America), and superior intellect (Iron Man). He is also an Oxford graduate with a PhD in physics and considered one of the top 15 minds on the planet.
8) The Black Panther is more than the special costume he wears. He is also a world-class athlete who was trained in martial arts, judo, wrestling (a popular Wakandan sport), and all forms of hand-to-hand combat. He also has enhanced healing properties, strength, speed, agility, and tracking senses. This is the result of ingesting a special heart-shaped herb that grows only around the site of the crashed Vibranium meteorite. The radiation from the meteorite produces the plant which, once ingested, gives the recipient the aforementioned special abilities. Only those in the royal hierarchy and heirs to the panther mantle are eligible to use it. This means that the Black Panther has absolutely no problem going toe-to-toe with Captain America, who is considered the world’s best hand-to-hand combatant and fighter.
9) Steeped deep in African tradition, Wakandans worship Bast, a female deity known also as the Panther God. The symbolic mythology here is also directly connected to ancient Egypt. She is revered as a protector and defender of the nation. This makes the Black Panther her agent outside of the spirit realm, and thus more than a hero, but a true mythical figure. Imagine if the Pope wore a costume, had superhuman abilities, and defended the Vatican from its enemies both foreign and domestic.
10) Because of Bast, Wakandan women are highly respected. The king’s personal guard, the Dora Milaje, are an elite female fighting force. T’Challa’s younger sister Shuri is a genius level intellect and considered one of the smartest women on the planet. Not only did she invent the Black Panther’s technologically-advanced suit, but also other inventions to help further her country’s technological dominance. While Tony Stark, who is considered one of the smartest men on the planet, graduated from MIT at age 17, he did not invent the Iron Man suit until age 42. By contrast, Shuri is only 16-years-old.
11) In the comic books, the Black Panther was briefly married to Storm of the X-Men (remember Halle Berry?). Storm was from Wakanda’s African neighbor Kenya.
Enjoy, and see you on February 16th
Follow Kevin E. Ross on Instagram: @krosschicago @twoguardmediagroup
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This post was curated by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual or @TheBurtonWire.