'Black Panther' Stars Discuss the Film's Cultural Impact

It's only a few months before Black Panther debuts in theaters, and while the film is set to leave quite a mark on the Marvel Cinematic Universe's landscape, it isn't just the MCU that Black Panther will touch. According to two of the film's stars, the film is going to have a cultural impact as well.

In a recent interview with Teen Vogue, Lupita Nyong'o and Letitia Wright opened up about what the film, which has a predominantly black cast and crew and is about an African hero, will mean for not just the black community but for other minority communities as well.

"I'm excited for what Black Panther is about to do, not just for young black boys and girls, but for everyone," Wright said. "There's a black superhero, but then we're going to have more Asian superheroes and more from India. The solution to the problem being: We don't have enough of this, so we're going to make more. I'm excited!"

The value of representation, particularly in terms of Black Panther, isn't just limited to the race of the characters portrayed on screen. The film's setting of the fictional African nation of Wakanda is itself important, as it represents a world untouched by Western traditions and influence. Nyong'o, who plays Nakia in the film, has previously explained that making Black Panther as an African woman living outside of Africa was very personal for her and in the Vogue interview, she went even further, explaining who Black Panther would impact and help foster "a more mainstream cultural consciousness."

"In Kenya, I grew up watching Mexican soaps, Australian soaps, and American stuff," Nyong'o said. "I didn't feel like TV was so diverse -- but I just too it in stride. What's really exciting about this is if I can project my humanity onto people who don't look like me, from cultures that aren't like mine, why on earth shouldn't it be the same in reverse? What we're talking about is the prominence of this particular film and how it is entering into a more mainstream cultural consciousness."

And how would the film do that? According to Nyong'o, it's because of the place superhero films have in culture generally no matter what the race or ethnicity of the characters.

"Superhero movies are our modern folklore -- and folklore is important," Nyong'o said. "It informs our sense of oneness. The beauty of cinema is you all go into a room together and agree to suspend your disbelief and share this experience of another world. For that moment, you are all one in that space, experiencing the same thing. It reinforces our sense of community. These big blockbuster superhero films appearing in moments when we're so polarized are some of the few chances we all get to be on the same page."

Black Panther opens in theaters on February 16, 2018.

Other upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movies include Avengers: Infinity War on May 4, 2018, Ant-Man and the Wasp on July 6, 2018, Captain Marvel on March 8, 2019, the fourth Avengers movie on May 3, 2019, the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 5, 2019, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2020.

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