From Friday through Monday, as a tribute to Chadwick Boseman (1976-2020), ChiTown Movies is screening Marvel’s Black Panther — a science fiction classic that is captivating and beautiful to watch. This article is a primer for the folks, like myself, with little knowledge about the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), a franchise of films featuring a shared multiverse where different superheros exist and occasionally work together. This article is also for those not familiar specifically with Black Panther because, although its cultural footprint is universal, the Black Panther and his nation of Wakanda are a very complex cinematic cosmos unto themselves. I think, especially for those of you who might not be comic collectors or fans, drive to ChiTown for Black Panther so you can enjoy this adventure film made for audiences craving fun and action. Directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther is breathtaking, and it never stops engaging us!
For twelve years, from 2008 to 2020, Kevin Feige either co-produced or produced every single one of Marvel Comics’ successful superhero blockbusters. It wasn’t until 2019 when he received nominations for an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, and other spiffy nominations for his production work on Black Panther, because Black Panther was the first superhero film nominated in the category of Best Picture, and the first MCU film to garner an Oscar. Black Panther was a turning point in Feige’s career, and Black Panther has also been a cinematic landmark for American mainstream audiences, which enthusiastically embrace the African culture of Wakanda. The debut of the Black Panther superhero in 1966 marked the first appearance of a black character in a mainstream American comic. Then in 2018 Kevin Feige and many (many) others revolutionized the Panther into a cultural icon and, for the first time, the universe of Wakanda reshaped the hopes and humanity of internaional audiences, because celebrating this African superhero and his nation means that we are making the Black Panther an ideal to aspire to, after the movie ends and during our everyday lives.
an interview with Kevin Feige, speaking about Marvel’s partnership with director Ryan Coogler
In all this enduring goodness that is the Black Panther phenomenon, there’s the overwhelming anger of the villian Erik Killmonger, brought to life by the actor Michael B. Jordan. Erik Killmonger is from the African-American branch of the Wakandan Royal Family. Erik grew up in Oakland California, in the small apartment of a housing project — where we see a poster of Public Enemy, the political hip hop group whose music is about concerns within the African American community. Young Erik Killmonger says to his father Prince N’Jobu, “Everybody dies. It’s just life around here.” Over the past year, the Black Lives Matter movement has reflected the relevance of Erik’s statement, sadness, and rage.
However, I’d like to end this writing not from my head about production and politics, but rather writing from my heart. Writing from the space of movie magic that has been one of my favorite places for most of my life. And, dear reader, Black Panther is undeniably magical, as it continues the tradition of myth-making in our new century. It is so visually inspiring that I contemplated writing a different article solely about Ruth E. Carter’s costuming, which garnered one of the first Oscars for Marvel. Her costumes were perfect, historical, accurate, and resplendent. Thank you, Ms. Carter.
Black Panther runs over two hours, as all good epic sagas should, and actor Chadwick Boseman created a legendary King T’Challa/Black Panther of gentle and easy nobility. I liked the kind carefulness that Chadwick gave to the Panther, and you too will (re)discover something to like about T’Challa. No matter who the next Black Panther is, there’ll be no replacement for Boseman and what he offered to the entire world in 2018. Chadwick, Forever! Wakanda, Forever!
September 18 @ 7:30pm & 10:30pm
September 20 @ 7:30pm
September 21 @ 7:30pm
WHERE: ChiTown Movies Drive-In Theater, 2343 South Throop Street, Chicago IL 60608
ADMISSIONS: Tickets are $33 per car. They can be bought at www.chitownmovies.com.
CONCESSIONS: Bring $10 or $20, and you can order several tasty treats. Best movie popcorn in all of Chicagoland!