UT students weigh in on Black Panther


“Representation. Representation. Representation,” said Kat Griffin, senior marketing major, talking about the box office hit, Black Panther. “It is finally time the little black girls and boys get heroes and heroines to look up to. Now the black narrative can change.”

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and Marvel Studios’ Black Panther made its theatrical debut last month, and grossed over $242 million in its four-day opening weekend, making it the fifth highest grossing movie of all-time. UT’s Black Student Union (BSU) and other black students made it their duty to go support the highly anticipated movie during its opening weekend.

“I think this movie is important to the black community because all of the black shows we used to watch as a kid, and could relate to, have either been discontinued or are not shown anymore,” said Gabriella Wallace, sophomore mass communication major.

The story of Black Panther follows T’Challa, who returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced (fictional) African nation of Wakanda to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king after the death of his father. T’Challa’s spirit as king and as Black Panther is, of course, tested when he is drawn into a forbidding conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with betrayal and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their future.

“I hope other movie companies, like DreamWorks or Fox, would make more movies with more powerful roles for black people,” said Sheri Warner, junior mass communication major. “Realistically it would be hard to believe if those companies would actually do it because of how whitewashed the media is but, I think that Black Panther really showed the world that black people can fulfill this heroic, powerful role just as well if not better than a white actor would.”

Although Black Panther received high praises from many of its moviegoers, others had different opinions about the story’s plot, as well as the movie’s predominantly black cast.

“I was really impressed with the movie in its entirety,” said Elijah Jean-Baptiste, a junior journalism major. “I just thought that it had so much violence within our culture and it put us, as black people, against each other. But other than that minor detail, I thought the movie was well done.”

Many of the other countries in the world, such as Australia, could agree with Jean-Baptiste’s comment, stating the movie had “unengaging action sequences” and “predictable plotting.” Urban Cinefile described it as too dialogue heavy and a potential misfire for viewers beyond the core fan-base.

“I, personally, do not think DreamWorks or Fox would try to create a major motion film with an all-black cast,” said Jean-Baptiste. “The only reason I think that is because of how society is and their way of thinking. Because before Black Panther even came out there were all of these ignorant or racist comments all over social media about why people should not go see the movie. And until people get out of that mindset, I don’t think there will be other movies as big with a predominantly black cast.”

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