From the moment the first trailers and posters dropped it seemed like it would take centuries for Black Panther to come out. My anticipation and excitement for this film definitely overshadowed my ability to sit back and really digest it, and the sheer magnitude of this film and what it means for Black representation in mainstream media was something I had to sleep on.
I watch Marvel movies regularly with my family (Black Panther being the only exception to that tradition) so I'm used to the quality of content they produce on both TV and in films. I wasn't worried about whether or not Black Panther would be good. The concept of seeing such a Black film on as large of a platform that only Marvel films have maintained in recent years, a superhero film so rich with characters and themes that I could actually relate to as a Black person, was something that took me a minute to fully grasp.
I remember seeing the first images of Lupita Nyong'O's character Nakia and immediately thinking "Yo...she looks like me." This character in a Marvel film is not only played by one of my favorite actresses, but she actually looks like me. Like down to a similar hair style and color, not the "This is the only Black character in this film so I guess we relate by default." Seeing Nakia come to life in the film only reinforced those sentiments.
And of course I have to mention the amazing Black women in this film who prove that while a Black man is perfectly capable of leading on his own, he isn't as impactful without the Black women that support him behind the scenes. In addition to Nakia, Shuri and Okoye are some of the best characters in the film (Shuri being a definite fan favorite). All three of these women shatter previously held stereotypes about Black
Prior to Black Panther's release, Black representation got another A+ when the official portraits of our forever President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama were unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery here in D.C. These portraits serve as yet another poignant example of art created by Black artists being the best representations of the Black community. Barack's portrait, painted by New York artist Kehinde Wiley, depicts him in a setting that contradicts everything about presidential portraits and Black masculinity. This isn't done unintentionally, though, as the three different types of flowers that surround Barack each represent pieces of his background-- Hawaii, Chicago, and his father's native Nigeria.
Michelle's portrait, done by Baltimore artist Amy Sherald, was the one that really took me by surprise. It was seemingly flat, basic almost. But nonetheless captured the powerful presence and grace of Michelle Obama.
"He or she who controls the images projected to the masses controls his self esteem."
Black Panther and the Invention of "Africa"- The New Yorker
The Hidden Political Message of Michelle Obama's Portrait Dress- POLITICO
The Obama portraits are not what you'd expect, and that's why they're great- The Washington Post