The release of Black Panther has unleashed a swarm of new definitions of the “new superhero”. Decidedly different from other Marvel ventures, the movie has been one of the highest grossing movies this year.
From ‘to infinity and beyond’ to ‘Flame on!’, everything has evolved. No longer do we have Buzz Lightyear coming to our rescue. We no longer search for “Hulk Smash!” collectibles – we have grown up and so have our superheroes. Yet, once in a while we live to see Captain America swing his shield and Iron Man be just, pure plain genius. And of course nurse our dream of hanging on to Spider-Man’s suit someday. Yet, somehow, the tide has changed.
2018 has already proven to be a good year for superheroes. The Black Panther has broken boundaries everywhere, from stereotypes about typically white superheroes to big-budget films with an Afro-centric cast to being one of the highest grossing films this year, beating Deadpool last year by a huge margin. Lauding the film’s extraordinary box office success, host Jimmy Fallon mentioned how the film “crushed” the other films at the Oscars. Such movies herald the beginning of greater diversity in our films and hence a redefinition of our notion of “the man (or woman) who saved the day”. Supported by an excellent cast (Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyongo, Michael B. Jordan) the film weaves together a richly vivid story of doubt, drive, and determination. What’s more, the fans have embraced the movie hungrily, precisely because it is shaking off the dusty old tapestry of white men in red capes.
Harshita Sethia, Miranda House student by day and Marvel ambassador by night, firmly says, “You don’t have to be a Marvel fan to watch Black Panther. You’ll love it anyway.” And therein lies the true value of the movie. While drawing upon a familiar cosmos of characters and technology, it moves away from the oh-so familiar over-the-top CGI and frenzied, power-hungry villains. It moves away from a black-and-white ending and from heroes that feel too good to be true. Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) are wonderfully complex, conflicted characters. We are thus confronted with a new superhero: one that is not so sure of himself but who is nevertheless aware and able to perform his duty. A star that doesn’t feel so unreachable. Ironically, we see the creation of a superhero who is not just visually ‘unconventional’, but one who is more human.
Wakanda is also a delicious backdrop to the movie, it’s tribes breathing in colour to the scenes. Tridisha Thakuria, confirmed Shuri fan, claims that she loved the film because the existence of strong, female characters in the film helped break stereotypes. Moreover, the extensive work on the setting, the location, the costumes made Wakanda and it’s people into living, breathing humans rather than mere two-dimensional illusions. There is no doubt that there is greater need for such movies that shatter the glass ceiling.
There is more to come for the fans this year. Deadpool 2 will bring the sarcastic, gore-hungry, and yet adorable hero back to the screens on May 18th as well as the classic ensemble of Avengers: Infinity War on the same day. Other movies lined up for this year includes Ant-man and the Wasp (16th July), Venom (8th October), X-men: Dark Phoenix (2nd November), Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse (14th December), Aquaman (21st December) and The Incredibles (15th June).
Feature Image Credits: Marvel