‘Black Panther’ emphasizes connections of fantasy, society

Representation is the ability to serve as a counterpart or image of someone or something. Grasping the identity of an entire culture is no easy task, especially when you have society ready to judge. At the same time, an awareness is necessary to put biases aside and accurately embody the culture you are there to represent.

Lately, there’s been a rise in minority representation within the media, specifically black culture. Which brings us to this weekend’s stellar release of “Black Panther,” a film that has not only broken records, but also cultural barriers. On its weekend debut, the film reached a domestic gross of $192 million, scored 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and earned the highest debut for a February film. Most importantly, the film is the highest-grossing film ever by a black director, Ryan Coogler.

The director leading a mainly black cast and black superhero protagonist led to major media attention for the film. Being strategically released during Black History Month, the superhero has brought hope to children of color and beyond. Breaking through the stereotypical image of what a superhero looks like or has to be, T’Challa (Black Panther), demonstrates his love towards his people and culture by defending them at all cost. The diversity and new perspective the film hosts is source of the popularity it has gained as it deviates from what an audience is used to seeing on screen. “A black superhero and crazy-tough women is a nice departure from the Marvel blueprint,” critic David Edelstein said.

A hero created in 1966 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby still makes a statement on society 50 years later. Coogler surpasses the expectations and completely showcases the beauty of African-American culture— captivating the audience with brilliant colors, music, views and choice of wardrobe. The dualistic significance of the film brings together real-world issues and fictional inspiration. The white audience consumer culture did not hold back Coogler from thriving in the presentation of this widely admired comic-book character.

Furthermore, the director showed the importance of women in the black community. They are strong, valiant and can save themselves without the need of a man. Once again, this aspect is new to the world of Marvel, as typically women only serves as motivation for the hero, while in this film they are part of and contribute to the victory.

All in all, the director brought to life a world many dreamed of and others never saw coming. Coogler has a bright future ahead of him by representing cultures that have fought for their place in history for many years. He keyed into his own values and imagination to speak to an audience that was pleasantly surprised by being so accurately represented. As for the film, I’m positive it will continue breaking records and establishing prominence within theaters. This is only the beginning of the momentum this powerful superhero is about to release on a society that has been craving this radical change.