Black Panther director Ryan Coogler opens up about the importance of the film to him personally as it tackles African identity. Starring Chadwick Boseman in the titular superhero role, the upcoming blockbuster follows the new king, T’Challa, of the hidden advanced nation of Wakanda as he comes home after the tragic death of his father in Captain America: Civil War. The young royal is then faced with making an important decision that could potentially change the course of his country and its people’s fate.
The 18th installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the first from Marvel Studios in their 10th anniversary year, Black Panther is already shaping up to be a huge hit. It has become the fastest selling superhero film when it comes to pre-release tickets. Box office projections are equally impressive with the blockbuster tracking to pocket $120 million during its opening weekend and projected to reach $400 million domestically in the entirety of its run.
Coogler spoke to Sydney Morning Herald for Black Panther and revealed the Marvel film is perhaps the project that he has the most personal attachment to. Quite interesting considering that it is about a fictional superhero, not to mention that he also did two more grounded projects that also tackled social issues in Fruitvale Station and Creed. The Bay Area native explains the reason by sharing his experience making the blockbuster:
“This film is possibly the most personal film I’ve made to date.To me it deals with the answer to a question that I’ve been asking myself since I was very young – what does it mean to be African? That idea, that concept, I was very interested in and drawn towards.
I was able to explore that in making this film. It enabled me to fulfil a longlife dream of going to the continent of Africa – researching – for the first time. The things that I learned about the continent and the things that I learned about myself were invaluable. I tried to put some of that energy into the project.”
When it comes to the bigger picture, Coogler highlights how important it is that every kid sees a reflection of themselves in media, especially with the power that films and TV have thanks to their popularity. The Marvel project, which boasts a stellar mix of veteran and rising Black actors, certainly has the ability to further social awareness and representation in Hollywood content:
“Representation is something that can be very powerful. It definitely has the potential to make particular markets who feel under-served in terms of the superhero genre feel like they’re being included in something.”
With just under two weeks before it premieres, Black Panther is already shaping up to be a massive hit for Marvel. The significance of the film goes beyond the franchise it belongs to but in the big and small screen landscape as a whole. And while there are some people who don’t feel particularly thrilled with the kind of racial impact that the Coogler film will have, the majority of people are actually stoked about the positive effect it will have regarding representation. The good word of mouth from the premiere and early junket screenings are expected to bolster people’s anticipation of the movie.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
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