This weekend, hundreds of thousands of movie-goers across the country lined up to get a taste Hollywood’s most thrilling and provocative film of the year. And no, I’m not talking fifty shades of “finally ending this super uncomfortable franchise”. More like Marvel’s latest superhero release: Black Panther.
As ticket holders patiently awaited their chance to see the newest addition to the “Avengers” series kick some serious butt on screen, many were met with something even better:
Organized by the Electoral Justice Program, an arm of the Movement for Black Lives organization, the Wakanda the Vote campaign seeks to register black voters in line to watch Black Panther. Wakanda, the fictional land from which our Black Panther, T’Challa, hails, re-envisions reality by creating a land in which poverty, chronic illnesses and racism does not exist. Kayla Reed, Jessica Byrd and Rukia Lumumba, leaders of the Electoral Justice Program acknowledge that while this country remains fictitious, Wakanda is the type of nation we deserve and must fight to construct on our own. As the spring and November 2018 midterm elections roll around, #Wakandathevote is taking every opportunity to engage communities across the country in a conversation of electoral justice. Check out campaign instructions here to create your own event!
The Wakanda the Vote campaign is just one of the many reasons why Black Panther is paving its way to success. Rooted in African culture and starring a stellar cast of black men and women, this movie is certainly overdue for the Marvel franchise. As the film is already proving to be a major success at the box office, critics are celebrating Marvel for finally shattering myths about the overseas viability of movies rooted in black culture. However, critics such as Todd Boyd ask us to dig deeper into our celebration of this film. While he agrees that the success of Black Panther is certainly chipping away at the Hollywood notion that casting nonwhite actors posits a bigger risk for the success of the film, he continues: “To me, there is real change afoot when diverse actors are cast in roles that are not inherently diverse.” In other words, let’s not pat ourselves on the back too early, Hollywood.
The overwhelming success that this film has already accumulated should come as less of a surprise to the film industry and more of warning: the time of taking the minority movie-goer for granted is long over. If you want to create successful, engaging films, do not overlook these groups of people and do not attempt to overshadow their stories. If anything, Black Panther is one of the most overtly political comics and film adaptations in the entire Marvel series and its success draws directly upon the moral and political questions it contemplates. Particularly in 2018, it is crucial that films do not shy away from social issues but instead, make the central to the architecture of the film’s narrative.
From the moment trailers were released, I knew that this movie was something that I absolutely had to see- and I’m beyond satisfied that I had the chance to do so today. I implore you, whether you are registering voters or not, go support this movie in theatre’s. It is something I am positive you will not regret.