It was Friday, June 9th, 2017.
Lebron James’ Cavaliers were taking on Kevin Durant’s Golden State Warriors in an epic NBA Finals match-up. Just like the 2016 Finals, Lebron James and Kyrie Irving were orchestrating an EPIC comeback from a devastating 3-0 deficit—a series that was going to be a blowout.
All eyes were supposed to be on Cleveland. But instead, everybody was buzzing about the brand new trailer for the upcoming superhero film Black Panther that was released during a commercial break.
The trailer was an instant hit, generating more buzz than perhaps any other movie trailer in recent history.
Between 9pm and midnight on Friday June 9th, people tweeted the hashtag #BlackPanther a 109,000 times. The hashtag #BlackPantherSoLit was tweeted 15,400 times. And as of June 12th, within only two days, the official teaser trailer has racked up over 17 million views on YouTube and over 31 million views on Facebook!
Wow. Marvel’s The Black Panther has become an instant viral smash hit. The reaction to the trailer has been swift, strong, and incredibly positive.
But is it worth the hype?
The answer is a resounding HELL YES.
In every aspect, Black Panther is worth the hype. And that is coming from someone who watches a lot of trailers for movies and is rarely excited to see any of them.
As a moviegoer, I’m a tough critic. I’ve seen a lot of super hero movies since the original Tobey Maguire Spiderman came out. I’ve become so numb to seeing them at this point, that I am rarely impressed.
But “Black Panther” gets a hearty round of applause from me—maybe a standing ovation. I love what I’m seeing so much that, a year before this movie comes out, I’m willing to say that it’s going to be The Best Movie of 2018.
And here’s why:
A Very Captivating and Unique Concept for a Super-Hero Movie
When I first saw Chadwick Boseman make an appearance as Black Panther in Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, I was naturally excited to see not only a black superhero jump into the fray, but an African superhero. As someone who hails from the continent of Africa, I was definitely pumped to see the introduction of Black Panther into Marvel’s cinematic universe. And judging from his performance in 42, Chadwick Boseman is very impressive actor. So I definitely felt that they made the right choice with casting him.
But since I never read the Black Panther comic books, which Stan Lee created in the 1960’s, I wasn’t fully hyped to see this movie until the trailer came out 2 days ago. The trailer is striking a chord with all sorts of people— people who read the comics and others who didn’t—because the concept for Black Panther is one of the most original, unique, and captivating ideas for a superhero. Ever.
Batman is a wealthy philanthropist who was orphaned as a child and spends his nights protecting the city of Gotham from wrongdoers. Superman is an orphaned alien from a planet called Krypton who uses his Godlike abilities to fight crime. Ironman, also a wealthy philanthropist, uses self-invented robotic suits to fight evil. Spiderman, who was accidentally bit by a radioactive spider, uses his web-shooting abilities and superhuman strength to bring criminals to justice.
All of those concepts are interesting. But Black Panther strikes has to be one of the most intriguing ideas for a superhero that I’ve ever seen.
The Black Panther, otherwise known as T’Challa, is the king and protector of a country called Wakanda—an African country that is secretly the most technologically advanced nation in the world. A long time ago, a meteorite made of vibranium—the same substance Captain America’s shield is made of—crash-landed in Wakanda. The Wakandans were able to use that valuable resource to create super-advanced technology. But in order to protect this resource, they have kept these advancements a secret from the world with a strict policy of isolationism.
T’Challa wears a bulletproof suit made of vibranium, invents his own gadgets, and fights wrongdoers with more skill than Batman. So not only does T’Challa fight crime, fight evil, and fight for justice, he also fights to protect the mysterious, beautiful, and super-advanced country of Wakanda from being discovered. It’s a combination of Batman, Ironman, and Thor into one epic story that takes place in the context of Africa.
Now THAT is an interesting concept for a superhero movie. It includes mystery, science-fiction, action, suspense, and drama. And it’s visually stunning.
There are plenty of reasons to be hyped about this movie. But when it comes down to it, it’s just a damn good concept.
An INCREDIBLY Talented A-List Cast and Director
Here’s another reason why people everywhere are geeking out over this trailer: the cast.
The cast for Black Panther is one of the most star-studded lineups that we’ve seen.
Chadwick Boseman is obviously one of the best actors in Hollywood. And the supporting cast is as talented as it gets.
Lupita Nyong’o and Forest Whittaker are both Academy Award winners. Danai Gurira stars as Michonne on The Walking Dead. Michael B. Jordan has done knockout performances in The Wire, Fruitvale Station, and Creed. And he is one of the most promising black actors in Hollywood, who some would say is our generation’s Denzel Washington. Daniel Kaluuya starred in the recent smash hit Get Out. Angela Basset is an industry veteran who has been starring in popular films since the 90’s. Martin Freeman played Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit trilogy. And Andy Serkis played the voice of several well-known movie villains including Gollum from The Lord Of The Rings series.
Black Panther has brought together the best black actors that Hollywood has to offer. And on top of that, Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit and Gollum from The Lord Of The Rings are back together for another epic adventure.
What more could you really ask for?
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ryan Coogler for his directing chops. Creed is a 2015 Rocky sequel film directed by Coogler that stars Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone. I saw this film for the first time recently. And I have to say, I could not have been more impressed by the writing, intensity, emotion, acting, and overall choices that Coogler made for Creed. It’s honestly my favorite sports movie ever made. Coogler also directed the award-winning and critically acclaimed Fruitvale Station from 2013. And he is only 31 years old.
There is no better choice that Marvel could have made for director than Ryan Coogler.
So I’m already predicting that this is going to be The Best Movie of 2018. Because with a cast and a director like this, you just can’t lose.
It’s going to be really cool to see Michael B. Jordan play the villain for the first time in his movie career and epic to see Andy Serkis, who was Gollum, star as another villainous character. And of course, the gorgeous Lupita Nyong’o appears to be starring as T’Challa’s main love interest. So there’s A LOT to look forward to.
A Celebration of African Culture Like You’ve Never Seen Before
So other than the captivating concept and the star-studded cast, there’s another factor that is drawing peoples’ attention to this movie trailer: it’s a celebration of African culture in mainstream American cinema—the likes of which we have never seen before.
Hollywood and mainstream media outlets have not been kind to Africa. Mainstream American media has stigmatized Africa with stereotypical images of blood diamonds, poverty, disease, warfare, corruption, and disarray.
As a citizen of both Kenya and the United States, this is a problem that never sat right with me. It got to the point that I was able to earn an A+ on an English paper back in college about the American stigmatization of Africa.
Because of this problem, Black Panther is a big deal. This is the first mainstream blockbuster Hollywood movie in my lifetime that has celebrated African culture is a positive light.
The country of Wakanda is fictional. But the culture, the clothing, the names, the customs, and the tribal traditions that the movie celebrates are very real. And the technological advancements of Wakanda are a complete contradiction of the stereotypes perpetuated in the media.
So Black Panther is a victory—not just for Africans, but for everyone. Because the world deserves to see a balanced portrait of what Africa truly is. And for the first time, we’re seeing a blockbuster movie come out of Hollywood about Africa that doesn’t involve blood diamonds, poverty, warfare, disease, or corruption.
It’s a representation of Africa that we just haven’t seen in Hollywood before.
That’s a victory for all of us.
The combination of the uniquely intriguing concept, the incredible people involved in making the project, and the celebration of Africa is more than enough for me to crown this movie as the best of 2018.
Whether or not The Black Panther lives up to that title, you can bet one thing is for sure: I’m going to be buying my tickets in advance for this one!
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Image source: screen-shotted from the official trailer for The Black Panther