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Film Review: 'Black Panther' is a Game-Changing Cultural Work of Genius

Director Ryan Coogler has successfully shown the world what Black excellence means.

"Black Panther" director Ryan Coogler / YouTube

For Black people living in the United States, it's not enough to be good or great. We have been taught that we must be exceptional to counteract unconscious bias, prejudice or just plain old racism in order to get a seat at the table. From our appearance to our speech, we are constantly judged.


The superhero film "Black Panther" is exceptional in every aspect.

Director Ryan Coogler had the weight on his shoulders of orchestrating an unprecedented Marvel Studios movie. He has successfully shown the world what Black excellence means.

Coogler's debut film was "Fruitvale Station" in 2013 based on the police-related death of Oscar Grant. At age 31, he both directed and wrote (with Joe Robert Cole) "Black Panther," incorporating all of the elements of an action-packed Marvel blockbuster film that will delight fans, like me, and audiences across the globe — but the film goes further in ambition.

The multidimensional storyline highlights the future of African Americans and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through the character of Shuri, brilliantly played by Letitia Wright. The beauty and grandness of African nations is celebrated through wardrobe, music and scenery. Themes of social justice are woven into the film. There's even a parallel made between unity and disunity within the Black community.

Yes, all of this goodness is wrapped up in a movie based on Marvel Comic character Black Panther, whose real name is T'Challa, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the 1960s. T'Challa underwent a renaissance in 2005 through the writings of director and producer Reginald Hudlin, which set a precedent for Coogler's on-screen T'Challa.

Wakanda is a fictional African nation that is technologically advanced and chooses to be isolated from the rest of the world. T'Challa, wonderfully played by Chadwick Boseman, with much swagger, must succeed the throne after the death of his father and become the King of Wakanda. But he must deal with skeletons in his family closet and confront archrival, Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan. Jordan's performance will give you chills. Forest Whitaker skillfully plays Zuri, who Coogler calls the religious and spiritual figure.

The beautiful, strong women of Wakanda, including Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye and Angela Bassett as Ramonda, are at the forefront of protecting the nation — kind of like what Black women have done in U.S. elections.

All Marvel films incorporate humor. What I found particularly delightful is the way T'Challa swoons over Nakia. She definitely has Black Girl Magic.

"Black Panther" is a game-changer. It is a big-budget film with a Black director and a predominantly Black cast, which has already surpassed Marvel's pre-release ticket sale records. Opening weekend ticket sales are projected to reach $170 million or more.

"Black Panther" will clearly and definitively show what UCLA's 2017 Hollywood Diversity Report found — films with relatively diverse casts have the highest median global box office receipts and the highest median return on investment.

Hollywood no longer has any excuses.

Last week, when #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe trended on Twitter, I spoke with Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color Of Change, which has long been an advocate for diversity and inclusion in front of and behind the camera.

"Black people are used to being disappointed by Hollywood," Robinson told me. "The excitement around 'Black Panther' shows that there's a real hunger in our community for authentic, empowering Black stories."

I, too, had a hunger for more empowering films. But when I left the Marvel Entertainment screening of "Black Panther" in New York City, my hunger was satiated and I felt full.

"Black Panther" is produced by Marvel Studios (a division of The Walt Disney Company, No. 36 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list)

The film opens nationwide on Friday.

Run time: 2 hours and 15 minutes

Rated PG-13

The Walt Disney Company Announces Additions to Management Team, Conditional Upon Closing of 21st Century Fox Acquisition

"We're pleased that these talented executives will be joining our incredible team of studio leaders once the acquisition of 21st Century Fox is completed."

REUTERS

Originally Published by The Walt Disney Company.

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) announced that several senior film executives of Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. ("21st Century Fox" —NASDAQ: FOXA, FOX) are joining Disney's Studio Entertainment management team, conditional upon closing of Disney's pending acquisition of 21st Century Fox.

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Disney Plans to Aggressively Invest in Content Creation for Its Direct-to-Consumer Platforms.

REUTERS

Originally Published The Walt Disney Company.

The Walt Disney Company has consented to Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc.'s ("21st Century Fox"—NASDAQ: FOXA, FOX) decision to tender or sell its 39% stake in Sky plc as soon as allowable under terms of Comcast Corp.'s £17.28 per share offer for Sky. The current value of Fox's Sky stake is more than $15 billion.

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"The impact of this new club will more than double the number of members served by The Boys & Girls Club and provides a safe place that meets the diverse needs of our local youth."

REUTERS

Originally Published by The Walt Disney Company.

In 1995, the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley began in an old firehouse just up the road from The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California; and now, more than two decades later, the Club serves thousands of young people every year in six different Southern California cities, including Burbank, North Hollywood, North Hills, Van Nuys, Sun Valley and Hollywood. Today the Club announced that The Walt Disney Company is making a $1 million dollar investment in the organization through a donation that will provide the funds needed to build a new Main Club facility and give 400 Boys & Girls Club members a safe place to go after school.

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But dark-skinned Asians are still largely absent from the film "Crazy Rich Asians." Still "whitewashing"?

REUTERS

"Crazy, Rich Asians," a film that debuted Wednesday, is the first Hollywood production in over two decades that doesn't use white actors to portray Asian characters.

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During the program, students were given the opportunity to learn more about the tech behind the magic at many segments of the Company.

REUTERS

Originally Published by The Walt Disney Company.

Early August 2018 marked the culmination of Disney's third Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program, a seven-week program that introduces high school students to computer science.

In partnership with Girls Who Code (GWC), a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in technology, The Walt Disney Company gave 22 rising high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of computer science and to explore different careers in technology. Throughout the summer, the students were immersed in an intense computer science curriculum taught on-site by Girls Who Code professionals and enriched by guest speakers, field trips and mentors from across all segments of the Company.

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Black Panther is the biggest superhero release of all time in North America, and with an A+ CinemaScore and an exceptional 97% Certified Fresh on RottenTomatoes, the film has been celebrated by critics and audiences alike.

REUTERS

Originally Published by The Walk Disney Company.

Marvel Studios' Black Panther crossed the $700 million mark at the domestic box office, becoming just the third film in history to reach this incredible threshold.

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Disney Expands Environmental Commitment By Reducing Plastic Waste

These new global efforts help reduce our environmental footprint, and advance our long-term sustainability goals."

REUTERS
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The Walt Disney Studios StudioLAB Advances the Art of Storytelling Through Next-Generation Technology

The Walt Disney Studios is already known for creating high-quality stories with heart, but now, Studio Creatives and production entities will have the space to gather and explore new ways of optimizing their storytelling.

REUTERS

Originally Published by The Walt Disney Company.

From Walt Disney's early hand-drawn, animated cartoon, Steamboat Willie, to the live-action feature The Jungle Book and the interactive experience Coco VR, The Walt Disney Studios has spent nearly 100 years transporting audiences to new and stunning worlds using groundbreaking technology and a little pixie dust.

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