I was hesitant when I first read the reviews of “Black Panther.” I knew people would like it, but I wanted this movie to be loved; I wanted the actors and directors involved to get it right and for the end product to be a wonderful, adored superhero film.
Thankfully, writer and director Ryan Coogler and his all-star cast of actors assuaged all my fears and created exactly what they wanted — a visually vibrant and rich superhero film that resonated with audiences across the globe.
Understandably, my hopes for the film was shared with one of the people who helped put the whole screening together: Alli Roman, director of Diversity and Inclusion.
“I just loved the movie, it just had everything I wanted in it. In the past four or five years, I’ve been a pretty big fan of Marvel and I was super excited to finally see ‘Black Panther’ and just see how much hype and publicity the film was getting even months before it came out! It was also nice to see it live up to the hype that surrounded it,” Roman said. “Filled with humor and action but also with cultural references, they all added up to make the film have a deeper meaning and purpose.”
It’s hard to state how enjoyable the film is, from the vibrant visuals and spot-on acting to its homages to beautiful and unique cultures. The film is one for all audiences. It’s also one of the few superhero films that have a deeper meaning to it.
“One of the most important parts of the movie is how it addresses ideas of representation,” Roman said. “Like how you don’t see a lot of African-American films in Hollywood — ones that show the culture or history or ideas of African-Americans, and I think ‘Black Panther’ did those wonderfully.”
Another aspect that Roman seemed to love was the excitement that the film created by viewers of all age, especially kids.
“What I loved was just how excited people were watching ‘Black Panther’ and how much it means to people. Especially kids, who now have a superhero they can look up to and have one that looks like them. Like all the little black girls can say I want to be like Shuri, a smart and passionate girl and one who sets a great example for girls interested in science and technology.”
This idea of the film creating multidimensional characters couldn’t be better shown than in Michael B. Jordan’s character Eric Killmonger, the villain of the film. His character is more than just the normal brand of villains the public is used to with Marvel or summer blockbusters. He has a true cause to fight for, and an understandable reason to be doing it.
The film’s ability to give us a villain we can understand makes it all the more compelling to watch him fight the equally understandable, albeit better, character T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman. The film gives the audience multiple characters to root for, ones with interesting backstories, thus creating a rich and well-crafted story that is very enjoyable to watch.
“That was the beauty of the film,” Roman said. “Its ability to portray the characters as more than just a king or a sister or an agent, but as multi-leveled and unique individuals who are each important in their own way.”
The screening put on last Thursday by the Black Student Union (BSU) in conjunction with Roman was how so many Trinity students were able to share in the experience of seeing “Black Panther.” Of the 200 people who signed up for the event, only four didn’t attend, demonstrating just how excited people were to see the film.
This shared moment was one of the highlights of the night not only for me but also for Roman.
“I loved how many people from Trinity came to see the movie. We had to get a bigger theater just to fit everyone,” Roman said. “The movie seemed to unite everyone and seemed to give them this opportunity to share a film about unity and that’s something that is really important to creating a better community. I think at its core the film is a conversation piece that opens the door for people to have these difficult conversations, to be able to talk to one another and learn about each other in a positive way.
Roman and BSU did a wonderful job of organizing an event that created such a hopeful and unifying atmosphere, and I am glad to hear that more events like this are in the works. These events can be a catalyst for bringing up difficult issues, and they could aid in the creation of a community with the ability to constructively discuss issues and work towards fixing them.
Movies like “Black Panther” help in creating this type of community on a massive scale. I hope and pray Hollywood sees movies like this can be successes and gives directors like Ryan Coogler the tools to make “Black Panther” and “Wonder Woman”-esque movies.
Thank you for Diversity and Inclusion, Trinity Diversity Connection, Difficult Dialogue Committee, Student Programming Board and BSU for hosting what may have been the event of the year — I hope there are more to come.