This past week I stumbled upon a Facebook post that I honestly could have scrolled past, but I felt compelled to read it as well as the comments that followed. The main post read, “Ok, so I’m curious… wtf is the big deal about Black Panther being black… Has anyone seen Luke Cage? lololol”. The poster then
concluded their pots in the comment section with, “Or Black Lightning???”. Now you may understand why I may have been compelled to read the post, comments and write my own piece on this particular… subject. However, there were a few more comments by a couple of others, most of which were jpgs and gifs, but I feel it will be important to this post.
A friend of this person commented “found him” with a jpg of Luke Cage (Mike Colter) standing firm and looking strong with his arms folded and bullet holes in his shirt. The OP (Original Poster) Then commented, “He’s more of a man than Black Panther I mean look at that sexy body”. I had slight issue of this as the OP seems to dismiss Black Panther based on his lean and muscular physique as compared to Luke Cage’s powerful muscular physique. The next comment was a GIF of Shaquille O’Neal as Steel shooting a one-handed free throw with a towel that landed on a dogs head. At this point I feel that the posters weren’t really trying to help clarify an actual reason as to why Black Panther (the hero and the movie included) is a big deal. The OP then made another statement, ” Let me clarify… I’m just curious. There’s lots of black superheroes, but I’m curious why Black Panther is getting all the hype“. One could have suggested a google search, but to no avail. Instead another friend of the OP commented, “Black panther is also a symbol of the black pride party that existed as a counter party to the KKK.”.
Well…. that’s not right at all. Yes, there was a group called the Black Panther Party that had the original purpose to combat police brutality and to provide survival programs and provide help to communities. This help would include: education, tuberculosis testing, legal aid, transportation assistance, the production and distribution of shoes for poor people and the Free Breakfast for Children Program. Although, in 1969 President Hoover declared that that would be the last year for the Black Panther Party. They were deemed communists by the FBI despite the programs that they were providing across the country and worldwide. Through the Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) the FBI used unlawful actions in order to destroy the Black Panther Party. These action led to a five-hour shoot-out at the BPP headquarters in Southern California, the death of Fred Hampton, who was the Chicago Black Panther leader and a late apology years later from the FBI director for the devastatingly malicious acts from the FBI . Long story short, The Black Panther was NOT named after the Black Panther Party nor is he a symbol for it, even considering that his original name was Coal Tiger.
Sorry for the detour, so going back to the post, another friend of the OP decided to make some sort of point by commenting, “Blade. Meteor man. Blankman. Static shock. Steel. All black, all with movies besides static shock”. Blankman ?? Really, Blankman?? The character was created by Damon Waynes as a spoof to Batman and unlike Batman, Blankman, could not fight, was a pretty lousy inventor and was a coward. It was a good comedy though. After that post, the friend posted GIFs of Meteor Man and Blankman, who got slapped and punched after being called Susan. You know “Slap me and call me Susan?”. This all kind of seemed like mockery in a way, but it showed me something. The people who posted in my mind wouldn’t have been able to name 10 black superheroes without a google or bing search which proves that there still isn’t enough exposure of not only black superheroes, but SOC (Superheroes of Color). However, I would like to address the rest of the heroes listed with the exception of Blade for obvious reasons. While ever hero IS black, the are minor heroes and by that I mean that they are not top dogs.
Static (not Static Shock) and Meteor Man have great significance in mainstream media. With Meteor Man being the first black superhero to have a movie in 1993 to let black youths see that black superheroes do exist and who doesn’t want to see a black man defending his neighborhood from gangs and making a positive impact in his community? Which brings me to Static. From the late 90s to the early 2000s on Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons, Virgil Hawkins was what the man! To be young, gain super powers, handling school and working with Batman(Bruce Wayne) and then going to the future to work with Batman (Terry McGinnis), while seeing your future self? Alright that was only once, but that was cool and I could relate Virgil which is why he’s still one of my favorite heroes today. Now, I would just like to list some other notable black superheroes that have been in mainstream media that were missed in the post and this will be without googling and no I did not look these up I promise you.
4. The Herald
6. John Stewart (Green Lantern)
9. Aqualad (That one’s iffy)
10. Bumble Bee
11. Misty Knight
12. Thunder and Lightning (Black Lightning’s daughters, I may have the names wrong)
13. The Savior (Super Girl and Young Justice)
14. J’onn (Martian Man Hunter)…. Okay that’s pushing it
15. How can I forget……. Spawn!!!!!!!!
16. Walter Jones a.k.a. Zack
Lastly, The final comment on the post (referring to the movie) stated,” It’s just people who love to complain about “white washing” or whatever relishing in the fact there’s a major black superhero triple A movie as though it irks white people. Even though the vast majority of us (people in general as well as white people) don’t care what race the hero is as long as he/she is cool.“. I don’t completely disagree with this post in the sense of not caring about the race of a superhero to a point. For instance I loved Batman: The Animated Series growing up, I also loved the Power Rangers and X-Men, so race wasn’t important to me at that stage, but as I stated earlier, being able to relate to Static and seeing someone like me saving the day was pretty awesome. As far as the “white washing” the movie wasn’t about that either, it was about proving that a movie with a majority black cast could not ONLY do well in the states, but over seas as well. That and we can play a wide variety of roles instead of the constant stereotypes of slaves, drug dealers, crime bosses, inmates, uneducated, degenerates, abusive people. We can kings and queens, teachers, intellectuals, boys and girls next door, adventurers, mythological goddesses and gods.
So, what is the importance of Black Panther? Well I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t tell you any other movie that not only brought black people out in droves to see it, but people of all races, comic book fans and non comic book fans, young, young at heart and old have come out to support this film for whatever reason of there on. Meteor Man was the beginning, both Spawn and Blade took things to another level with their individual success, Hancock had some success as well (I forgot about Will Smith), but Black Panther’s importance, it’s impact in cinematic history will open doors for all actors of color and that the portrayal of us doesn’t always have to be negative. Each and everyone of us is beautiful and are capable of tremendous endeavors and now the rest of the world has a chance to see that. Oh, in case you didn’t know, Black Panther is the FIRST BLACK mainstream superhero in comics. That’s a big deal right????
If you have a favorite black superhero or several, please feel free to list him/her or them in the comment section. Thanks for reading. Critiques are welcomed as well 🙂