Mild spoilers for Black Panther
Mirroring the ending of Black Panther, Walt Disney is donating $1 million dollars to help open new STEM centers across the nation. The success of Black Panther so far has been staggering, as the movie’s status as a cultural event has helped elevate it to new heights at the box office. Black Panther won its second weekend in theaters by breaking even more records, once again topping The Avengers. The movie sits above $700M worldwide as of today and seems to be driving a lot of return visits to the theaters.
Part of the movie’s success is undoubtedly due to the superb crew and cast assembled, with multiple award-winners helping to craft the action film. Add in the Marvel name and the popularity of the character, and Black Panther was also destined to do well. But its atypical setting for a blockbuster and focus on African culture – paired with a majority black cast and creatives – has given many people around the world a film like they’ve never seen. And when it comes to young people, the character of Shuri in particular has become a huge inspiration for those interesting in science and technology.
Black Panther ends on a scene of T’Challa telling Shuri that Wakanda will be reaching out to the world, which will include her leading a science initiative from a new facility in Oakland, CA. Now, ComingSoon is reporting that The Walt Disney Company will help life imitate art and will be donating $1 million to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, so that the organization can expand its STEM program.
Short for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, STEM programs have been a great way to get kids into those fields and help lead future innovation. Schools and private organizations have been increasing their focus on STEM over the years, especially when it applies to underprivileged kids who may not have access to the same resources and halls of knowledge as those who typically go into the fields. Disney’s donation will see BGCA expand their own STEM initiative, which will also see them build facilities all over the world.
The opening of a STEM Center of Innovation in Oakland, CA is especially of interest, as it mirrors the location in the film where Erik Killmonger grew up and where T’Challa eventually decides to open Wakanda’s facility. Oakland is also where director and co-writer Ryan Coogler grew up, so the move has some key connections to the movie. The money will also help centers open in Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Chicago, IL; Harlem, NY; Hartford, CT; Memphis, TN; New Orleans, LA; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Washington, DC; and Watts, CA.
It’s rare for a film, especially a tentpole comic book movie, to render actually change in the world. But superheroes at their best have always inspired people, especially the young. Shuri and Wakanda are just the latest set of role models for kids, joining the likes of Tony Stark and Peter Parker. Similarly, Disney will be pushing another young genius with the Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur animated series in the works. And with Black Panther continuing to dominate in theaters, expect more real-world events to be inspired by the movie.
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