Pride reigned at the Marvel Studios’ Black Panther Press Conference.
We have a week until the critically acclaimed and long-awaited Black Panther film releases. Not only are fans excited, but so are the cast themselves. After the premiere, they went into detail about their experiences and how they felt about the film and how important they find the film. One of the primary themes of the cast was their pride. Many of them expressed pride in different aspects of the film and what it could mean for viewers.
Danai Gurira, the actress for Okoye, initially feared to have her head shaved. However, after the shock of the ordeal passed, she began to connect with the other actresses.
And then all the girls started coming in – like, we’d all been balded, you know, one by one. You know, and it was just like everybody got their caps on. And then we just – and then the pride started to grow, you know.
Danai also expressed pride as a woman, particularly a black woman. It’s rare to see black women portrayed as, for lack of a better word, badass without also being angry or jilted:
“Yeah, when Ryan sat me down and talked to me about his vision[…]the women, I was just floored. You know, you don’t actually get sat down and hear that type of a vision. And then it embodied with us being on the continent, women from the continent, but very developed, very complex.”
A major complaint about the MCU is the lack of female characters strongly involved int he action. Outside of Scarlet Witch and Black Widow, very few women of the MCU see action. Until Spider-Man: Homecoming, there were very few black women playing a role at all:
“I loved that moment where she like, doesn’t want a wig[…]There’s so many great things I could say about how Ryan developed these women characters and allowed us to collaborate – that I’m just – I feel really blessed about, and excited.”
Letitia, the actor of the amazing and impeccable Shuri, also expressed pride in her womanhood and how the women were portrayed in Black Panther. “[…]What I love about it, as well, with how it was written is that the men are always behind the women, as well,” Letitia explains.
“So no one’s like undermined – like, the men are like, you know, ‘You shouldn’t be in technology, and you shouldn’t be in math.’ They’re like, ‘No, go ahead.’ Like, so T’Challa is like, ‘Go ahead, Sis. This is your department. This is your domain. Like – kill it.'”
Letitia also stated that Shuri is cooler than T’Challa, which is entirely accurate.
Continuing with her pride, Danai next expressed pride in her skin and how Wakanda made her feel. As a native Zimbabwean, she “[… sees] the power and the potential of where you’re from, but you see how skewed it’s viewed by the world and how misrepresented it is and how distorted it is.”
Africa is often portrayed as a country rather than a continent containing several countries. It is also represented usually as mud huts and small villages. More than anything, the current state of many African nations is the result of colonization, which is overlooked. Chadwick also expressed joy in “the idea of an unconquered nation, that has not been, you know, tampered with by the various means that it would have been tampered with.”
Danai followed Chadwick’s statements with her own views:
“It’s a birth of things that we’ve been seeing forever around the continent that we see when we’re there. We see beauty, we see power, we see potential, we see ability, we see resources, but they are never exhibited and then to put it on sort of a Marvel epic scale of exhibition it’s like, it really salves wounds in a really deep way.”
The entire cast truly emphasizes the importance of this film. Comics have always been political which, in turn, makes comic book films also political. The cast of Black Panther did not shy away from the pride and importance they felt as women and as Black/African actors. Despite just being another superhero film, the cast of this film truly wants this film to impact how black people, especially black women, view themselves and how others view black women.