On 'Black Panther' by Dilan Gunawardana

Reviewed by
June-July 2018, no. 402

On 'Black Panther' by Dilan Gunawardana

Reviewed by
June-July 2018, no. 402

The Marvel film Black Panther has currently earned more than US$1.3 billion dollars at the box office worldwide since its release on 13 February 2018, which places it high among the most financially successful films of all time. Such an achievement isn’t necessarily indicative of quality – the Fast and the Furious and Minions films are on the same list – but countless column inches have been devoted to Black Panther’s engaging narrative, its eye-catching aesthetic, and its complex heroes and villains. Moreover, the film was directed and co-written by Ryan Coogler, an African-American man, and features a cast almost entirely comprised of black actors. Its success has reconfigured conventional depictions of black people in large-scale blockbusters, and recast them beyond one-dimensional Hollywood thugs, sidekicks, buffoons, action film fodder, or objectified and exoticised bodies. It is also noteworthy in that its story originates from a comic book – a medium once derided as trashy and lowbrow.

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