Editor’s Note: Babble and Marvel are both a part of The Walt Disney Company.
When Black Panther finally hit theaters last week, I was first in line to see it with my husband and our daughter. Our family is biracial; so the idea of seeing an entire film cast comprised of people of color felt exciting and important. (Plus, it was Marvel! I mean, who doesn’t love a good Superhero movie?)
As we took our seats in the theater, something about it felt different. From the first opening scene to the final end credit, the entire theatre was buzzing with anticipation, excitement, and positive energy. But here’s how you really know a film has left a lasting impression: As soon as the credits rolled, no one left the theater. I mean not one single person. We all stayed — parents, children, teens, and adults, clapping and cheering the names on the screen, in support of such inspiring work of cinematic art.
If I’m being honest, there are actually 100 reasons why I’ll be taking my daughter to see Black Panther again. But in the interest of time, here are 10 of them …
1. It’s a superhero movie with an all-black cast, which is nothing short of groundbreaking.
There is great power in seeing a superhero who looks like you on the big screen. It’s true what they say — representation matters — and as the white mom of a brown child, I’m acutely aware that my daughter’s pop-culture role models are few and far between. Seeing Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) all suited up, looking every bit as heroic as Iron Man, Spider-Man, or Captain America sparks a totally new kind of magic in the hearts of black children. I witnessed it myself with my own daughter, who was absolutely entranced during the movie every time I looked over. And let me tell you, seeing her proud reaction first hand was enough to make this mama’s heart burst.
2. It shows kids what an inspiring (and positive) leader looks like.
To see an inspiring leader who practices the type of politics that bring a nation together and celebrates diversity is more important now than ever. One of the most powerful lines from the whole movie was when King T’Challa said, “Now, more than ever, the illusions of division threaten our very existence. We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers.” A leader who knows that our differences are what makes us stronger was refreshing to see.
3. It showcases bold and brilliant women of color like never before.
There’s a new Disney princess in town and she is more than just a pretty face. Shuri (Letitia Wright) is T’Challa’s little sister, and she’s not only beautiful, but insanely intelligent. She’s also funny, confident, and just so happens to be the technological mastermind behind the Black Panther suits and gadgets that save her brother’s hide on more than one occasion. Watching her smarts (and sass) in action was super enjoyable, but it was also very relatable for my daughter. We’re looking forward to seeing a lot more of her in future Marvel films. (Hint: Stay for the end credits.)
4. It offers a “cool” take on STEM (which kids don’t always find so cool).
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math are all featured prominently in Black Panther, and they’re shown in a positive and “cool” light, which was awesome to see. Cultivating the alien element Vibranium to create the Black Panther’s nearly indestructible suit to parts of the Wakanda transportation system, no doubt will be igniting a spark for this new generation of girl (and boy) scientists. My daughter leans into these subjects in school and in her everyday life so to see them highlighted did not go unnoticed.
5. The female warriors are straight-up badass.
Okoye (Danai Gurira) is not just one of the Doras, top military of Wakanda, she is the general, the head honcho, the commander in chief. Her army is made up of the most fierce women in the world. It comes across very clearly that she is in charge and she will stop at nothing to protect her people. Loyal almost to a fault, but brave beyond belief. She brings the heat (without guns) and embraces her true badass self, which is bald and beautiful.
6. It shows black men in a positive light.
It’s important for my daughter to see men who look like her black father portrayed positively on screen, just as it is for every child. Featuring male characters of color in ways that go beyond the stereotypes of gangsters, rappers, athletes, pimps, and instead showing them as real men with courage, strength, intellect, and compassion is something we all need to see more of, not just my daughter.
7. The Wakanda style is on point.
I’m not exaggerating here: The hair (or lack of), the clothing, the accessories; the whole look and feel of Black Panther was PHENOMENAL. It’s no wonder then that the film’s iconic looks are inspiring audiences everywhere. People are already dressing up in their #WakandaStyle finest and going to the theaters in droves. Although my daughter has never ever wanted to dress up as a princess (she’s more into comic book cosplay), I’m pretty sure when we go back to see Black Panther again, she will absolutely dress for the occasion.
8. Seeing a white actor play “the sidekick” was an awesome way to flip the stereotype on its head.
It’s not every day you see the white guy as the comic relief. Although this distinction is likely not on my daughter’s radar yet, it’s good for her to see a white person playing the smaller part to the African-American lead. In reality, it’s not always the white man who comes in to save the day. Sometimes it’s the black man, sometimes it’s a woman, or sometimes it’s another hero of color. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to watch that narrative change in Black Panther.
9. It reinforces positive family values.
The family that rules Wakanda together, stays together! These characters rise as a family and fall as a family. The struggles they go through are heartbreaking and deep-seated, and to see this tight-knit unit overcome them together is encouraging. I welcome movies that embrace the importance of the generations, and the significant role like Ramonda (Angela Bassett) play in all of our lives.
10. The soundtrack is epic (as if you didn’t already know).
Kendrick Lamar, Sza, and The Weekend are just some of the talented musicians who are featured on the Black Panther soundtrack, and their songs help create an impactful musical backdrop to the film that can’t help but make you feel things. The music is the soul of this picture, and incredibly instrumental in bringing you along on the journey. (It’s no big surprise then why it’s currently No. 1 on the Billboard charts.)
It’s already clear just how historic this film is, on many levels; but I honestly feel that its larger affects — not just on me and my daughter, but on society as a whole — are yet to be seen.
Black Panther is more than just a movie — it’s a movement. One that my family will continue to support again and again.