March 1 2018 11:00 AM

‘Black Panther’ claws its way to record box office numbers


MSU student Ci’Tyra Howze, says she was never a fan of Marvel movies, or superhero movies in general, until one came along that focused on a black protagonist.

There have been black characters featured in Marvel films before, such as the Falcon, but weren’t given the treatment of a stand alone picture.

“’Black Panther’ exceeded the hype it was given,” Howze said. “It had the right amount of action, and I especially enjoyed that the cast was heavily black, unlike your typical superhero movie.”

In just two weeks at the box office, “Black Panther” is already nearing the billion-dollar mark. By comparison, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy“ (2014), collected $773 million over a five-month span.

Early box office reports show theaters, nationally and globally, have sold-out throughout the week. Many are saying they’ve seen the movie twice, or even three times, in order to send a message to Hollywood about its lack of diversity.

The narrative of “Black Panther” is rooted in the black American experience. Its villain, Erik Killmonger, usurps the throne of the fictional African nation Wakanda, over its failure to address the struggles faced by black people globally.

Killmonger’s alienation and feelings of betrayal have made him relateable for many. In fact, it is common for viewers to question whether the “villain” was right all along.

It’s not only the multi-faceted characters but also dominance of a black cast and a strong portrayal of black women and culture that has earned the film near universal praise.

Moviegoers like Howze find many superhero movies to be predictable, due to repetitive storylines, but were enthralled by “Black Panther.”

“The representation of the ‘Black Panther’ history, African-American history, black women empowerment, all while having an intriguing villain was something I’ve never seen,” said Howze. “The movie was a 10 out of five in my eyes.”

Unlike Howze, there were also people in line just to see another Marvel movie, uninterested in the hype and not as invested in its cultural weight.

Lansing resident Jonathan Seals has been to all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, and for him, the day was like any other.

“I was just there to enjoy another superhero in action.

I wasn’t there trying to read into the movie too deep or break down every line,” Seals said. “That takes too much energy and doesn’t give me any enjoyment.”

Seals agreed that the movie is excellent but added that he believes the “overhype” is not necessary to convey the film’s message to any particular demographic.

“All races will enjoy this movie,” Seals said.

Black moviegoers have shown their support for the film by attending dressed in African prints, scarfs and outfits.

MSU student Truelove Arhin, whose parents moved to the United States from Ghana, expressed joy over seeing blacks wear African tribe prints.

Others argued that it was disrespectful, pointing out that that some of the prints were out of context in the film.

“I loved how blacks are represented properly, and to me, it was done out of a sign of respect,” said Arhin. “Wearing the prints shows support either way.”