Jack Kirby's family says the iconic comic book artist would have been ecstatic about the overwhelming response that Black Panther is currently getting. Ryan Coogler's contribution to the extensive MCU portfolio, the movie officially introduces Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa as the new king and protector of the technologically-advanced nation of Wakanda. It also stars a slew of brilliant black actors such as Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o and Danai Gurira.
Created by Kirby and Stan Lee in the mid-'60s, Black Panther first appeared in the Fantastic Four #52 in the Silver Age of Comic Books. The character is the first superhero of African descent in mainstream comics and paved the way for more diversity in print stories. Similar to how groundbreaking his first introduction was back then, his full big screen debut is also expected to have a ripple effect in terms of racial representation in media.
Jack's son, Neal recently spoke with Heat Vision regarding the enormously positive response that Black Panther is getting and he reveals that his dad would undoubtedly thrilled about it. Creating one of the earlier Marvel characters at a particularly controversial time with regard to racial appropriation in the United States, the younger Kirby shares that his father even received death threats due to his creation, but nothing fazed the legendary artist:
"Fifty years ago, he could have never envisioned the statement that this movie is making and the way it is being embraced by everybody. In terms of a message, that was always his intention, but he could have never envisioned reaching this size of an audience."
"I recall during the winter or early spring he asked me what I would think of a black superhero in the comics. Of course he was very much for it, as we all were at the time. My father was a very social liberal person. He would have been the Bernie Sanders of his day. He very much believed in social justice and equality, so he honestly thought it was time. Why shouldn't African-Americans have their own superhero?"
The Kirby family, however, is mostly thrilled that their patriarch is getting the credit he deserves. It's no secret that the late artist had issues about not getting equal acknowledgment as Lee, with whom he co-created dozens of Marvel's iconic characters. "My father was always very frustrated that recognition wasn't there. And that's just natural for anyone. It was a difficult situation for years and years," Neal admits. But he knows that for his father, just the thought that his creations are being properly adapted on the big screen would be enough "regardless whether he saw his name up there or not." adding that "to their credit, Marvel has been very good about [properly crediting Jack Kirby]. We have had a very good relationship with them for the past couple of years."
The Black Panther fever is just starting as we can only imagine that as more people experience it, the film's buzz will only intensify. Outside of its social and racial impact, it's a well-crafted film with the perfect mix of comic book fun and high stakes drama and it proves that these superhero blockbusters can offer something more than the generic CGI action set pieces. Poised to break box office records during its opening weekend, the Coogler film is also one of the highest rated superhero films on Rotten Tomatoes.
Source: Heat Vision
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