In Summary
  • With two Oscar winners (Nyong'o and Whitaker) and two nominees (Kaluuya and Bassett), as well as a hatful of Golden Globes nods, the super-cast features some of the most accomplished black actors working in cinema today.
  • Wakanda, almost a character in itself, subverts the stereotype of Africa as victim by positing an affluent, resource-rich, never-colonized utopia doing its own soul-searching over taking in refugees from poorer nations.

Black Panther is expected to be a major box office smash, but it has also taken on the mantle of cultural talisman, a touchstone on which moviegoers of colour worldwide are pinning their hopes.

The 18th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, opening Friday in the United States, features an almost entirely black cast led by Chadwick Boseman as the first non-white superhero to get his own standalone movie in the lucrative franchise.

The film from Disney-owned Marvel Studios is expected to break opening weekend box office records and has spawned headlines and social media buzz worldwide about its significance as a game changer for racial representation in cinema.

"We put our heart and soul into it because we knew it was a great opportunity," Boseman, 41, said during a Twitter Q&A on Monday.

"But to see how people have responded to it when they haven't even seen the movie yet, it's unlike anything I've ever seen. It's crazy."

Boseman (Message from the King, Marshall) plays the titular superhero in Black Panther, also known as T'Challa, king and protector of the technologically advanced fictional African nation of Wakanda.

His star-studded support cast is made up of African Americans Michael B Jordan, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker, English actors Daniel Kaluuya and Letitia Wright — Kaluuya is of Ugandan heritage while Wright grew up in Guyana — and Kenyan-Mexican Lupita Nyong'o.

With two Oscar winners (Nyong'o and Whitaker) and two nominees (Kaluuya and Bassett), as well as a hatful of Golden Globes nods, the super-cast features some of the most accomplished black actors working in cinema today.

Wakanda, almost a character in itself, subverts the stereotype of Africa as victim by positing an affluent, resource-rich, never-colonised utopia doing its own soul-searching over taking in refugees from poorer nations.

'BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS'

"What this movie represents... is a story and point of view that is universal in its appeal yet very grounded in African American culture," Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for comScore, told AFP.

"Its universal themes will allow it to become a worldwide phenomenon while at the same time representing a really important moment in film, breaking down barriers and outmoded ideas about what is commercially viable."

With five million posts, Black Panther is the most tweeted-about movie of 2018 — ahead even of Star Wars: The Last Jedi — and is outperforming The Hunger Games and Beauty and the Beast in pre-sales.

Page 1 of 2