Black Panther and the Growing Afrofuturism Movement

The Black Panther movie is a phenomenon. It is not only the first movie to feature a majority of cast members who are of African descent, but the director, Ryan Coogler, is the first man of color to ever direct a Marvel Studios film with a huge budget. A budget worth $200 million to be exact. So, what does a movie like this mean to the afrofuturism movement?

First off, Black Panther takes place in a country deep within Africa that was never colonized. In this sense, African Americans and brothers and sisters all over the world are given an alternative scenario that deviates from the realistic past that is so often portrayed by other Hollywood movies. Wakanda is a country that still holds on to its strong African traditions, thereby resisting the influence of colonizers so often integrated into movies. Secondly, Black Panther takes wardrobes to a whole new level, changing the entire script that has always been present in movies.

These are the fundamental basics of afrofuturism. Instead of focusing on the bleak past and the daily struggles of the present, afrofuturism applies creativity to create a future for the culture that lies in strength while still maintaining the African culture, ideals and magical nature. In Black Panther, the African culture is maintained and integrated seamlessly with cutting edge technology. Additionally, the costumes have deviated from the usual loin cloths characterized in other movies and embraced designs rooted in African culture and aesthetic.

The Dora Milaje in Black Panther_Marvel_afrofuturism
Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER L to R: Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Ayo (Florence Kasumba) with the Dora Milaje Ph: Film Frame ©Marvel Studios 2018

The Black Panther movie is the embodiment of everything afrofuturism. The heroes are undeniably and proudly African, their strength synonymous with their roots. This depiction gives people of color all over the world tremendous pride in their own heritage, helping them find a symbol of Black Power that does not remind them of slavery.

Away from the plot, Black Panther maintains its powerful cultural theme through the music in the film. Most notable is Kendrick Lamar and SZA’s “All the Stars.” The video features a celebration of blackness in all its forms. From the background colors, the praising of Queenship, the fashion, and most of all the art. With every aspect of Black Panther screaming afrofuturism, it is easy to see how it has brought this movement into the limelight.

Black Panther paves the way for afrofuturism to make its way into Hollywood, strengthening its hold of the creative arts. Afrofuturism and Black Excellence seek to give the culture the power that was stripped from it so violently through colonialism and subsequent slavery. With films like Black Panther, afrofuturists embrace a different reality, one based on the premise that the African culture can thrive away from the influence of colonizers. For every person of color, this is an alternative reality we can all subscribe to.

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