How Chadwick Boseman and Ryan Coogler created the most radical superhero movie of all time
Two years ago, Chadwick Boseman was in a movie called Gods of Egypt. It was not a very good movie. But in addition to its not-goodness, it also became infamous for whitewashing – casting, as ancient African deities, a white guy from Scotland, a white guy from Denmark and at least seven white people from Australia. Boseman, the sole black lead, played Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom and inventor of mathematics. Before the movie came out, an interviewer asked him about the criticism, and Boseman said that not only did he agree with it, it was why he took the part – so audiences would see at least one god of African descent. “But, yeah,” he added dryly. “People don’t make $140 million movies starring black and brown people.”
What a difference two years makes. Because now we have Black Panther – not just a $140 million movie starring black and brown people, but a $200 million one. It’s very overdue. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created Panther, the first black superhero, way back in 1966, but he didn’t show up on the big screen until 50 years later, when Boseman stole Captain America: Civil War. Now, after a decade of Marvel Universe films starring a demographically disproportionate number of white Chrises, the world finally has its first African superhero movie.
“It’s a sea-change moment,” Boseman says. “I still remember the excitement people had seeing Malcolm X. And this is greater, because it includes other people, too. Everybody comes to see the Marvel movie.”
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