Black Panther doesn't hit
The film, which has broken advance ticket sales records and is currently sitting at a perfect Rotten Tomatoes score, is not just the next installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is a cultural turning point for many. Starring Chadwick Boseman as the titular Black Panther and directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther is the first MCU film to focus not just on a black superhero, but to be set in a (fictional) African nation, be made by a predominately black cast and crew, and is set to be unlike anything seen before in the superhero genre.
Black Panther is so culturally significant that there have been multiple campaigns to ensure that children in underserved communities will have an opportunity to see the film and even the film’s stars have spoken out about how excited they are for the film to represent what an Africa untouched by Western influence or interference might look like. Boseman told CNET the consideration of how the film presented even the smallest of details -- such as T'Challa's accent -- mattered.
"People think about how race has affected the world," Boseman said. "It's not just in the States. Colonialism is the cousin of slavery. Colonialism in Africa would have it that, in order to be a ruler, his education comes from Europe. I wanted to be completely sure that we didn't convey that idea because that would be counter to everything that Wakanda is about."
With so much hope and anticipation pinned to Black Panther, Black Girl Nerds took to Twitter to ask fans to share #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe and the responses were powerful.
Read on for some of the best of #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe.
When I was a kid, movies and TV shows were full of black characters that were pimps, drug dealers, and slaves. Even Black Lighting (from the Super Friends) was LAME.😐February 6, 2018
#WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe ..images like this and knowing these children and countless others now have mainstream heroes that look like them and aren't drug dealers, parodies,convicts,sidekicks to a non poc character or plot devices BUT proud, intelligent, powerful and VERY cool pic.twitter.com/iLdxluJy4K— ChocolateCityComics (@ChocCityComics) February 6, 2018
It's less about what it means to me and more what it means to our little ones.
Young black boys and girls seeing themselves widely represented as the heroes.February 6, 2018
Finally seeing Africa depicted in a powerful and positive light, free from the effects of colonialism, with characters that look like me having motivations beyond the portrayal of “black pain” on screen.#WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe pic.twitter.com/nTEFHQM279— Andrien Gbinigie (@EscoBlades) February 6, 2018
When I saw the cast of women, all my complexion or darker, none sexualized or demonized because of it, and it wasn't a film about slavery or drug addiction, I cried.— MSOSullivan (@BlyssfulStorm) February 6, 2018
It's everything really
To know that kids can walk down the toy aisle and see an action figure that looks like them
That Black Women can be warriors too
That communities are coming together to make sure underprivileged kids see it
It's us celebrated#WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe— #Kingstees (@MrRandyWATTsun) February 6, 2018
When my 9 year old son sat in the movie theater SHOOK seeing a black superhero on a big screen. And the emotion I feel as a life long superhero fan seeing the same thing at the same👏🏽damn👏🏽time👏🏽👏🏽#WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe pic.twitter.com/SvECF5n6rG— Rashida Parrish (@chefshida) February 6, 2018
Black Panther opens in theaters February 16.