• Lives of Colour

From the Archives: Black Panther, A Tale of Representation

23.03.18

Florence Nyasamo

Until recently the only superhero film I had watched was Superman and I’d never heard anything about the Marvel film franchise. Since the release of Black Panther, I feel better informed, and watching it in the cinema a few weeks ago was quite an eye-opening experience. It tells the tale of a fictional country in Africa, Wakanda, which has been protected from colonial rule and allowed to flourish with the help of a powerful metal Vibranium. The new king T’Challa must navigate the trials and tribulations of ruling such a powerful country.


The depiction of Africa as the land of wealth, knowledge and power is a new phenomenon, something that has not been the norm within western media. The visual effects in terms of fashion, landscape, culture and the predominantly black cast delivered the storyline without compromise. The portrayal of female characters as powerful and strong and a predominantly black cast including a black director, Ryan Coogler, was not only refreshing but outstanding. This movie has answered any doubts about the benefits of an inclusive cast in Hollywood films, with it taking in $292 million in its first-weekend box office sales in North America. This news comes amongst the recent Hollywood Diversity Report 2018 which confirms that diversity within the industry is slow for women and people of colour. The success of this film goes to show what great creations can be made when money or time is invested in projects created through the lens of people of colour.


Through GoFundMe the film has raised to date $775,000 for children globally to watch the movie via the #BlackPantherChallenge fundraiser, children who might not have felt included in the existing Hollywood narrative of black people. It goes without saying children worldwide have been inspired by the film and will be able to aspire to be world leaders, scientists and heroes of their own world. Without pretending to be a film critic, I find this amazing as it seems to have started a movement, not only in Hollywood but also worldwide, in how important representation is in film.

My hope is that whether it is in film, music, or the arts,  we can all recognise that our differences make us stronger as we bring new perspectives to the institutions that surround us.


So what does representation in the media mean to you? Comment below!

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