Occasionally, a film that goes beyond attempting to entertain an audience for 90 minutes, is produced and released on the big screen. When this happens, the movie inspires it’s audience —  young and old– to better themselves and, be a positive role model within their community.
Usually seen in inspirational sports movies such as “The Blind Side” and “Rudy”, one does not often associate genuine motivation and self-betterment with a superhero movie. Yet, as Gal Gadot demonstrated in the movie “Wonder Woman,”  in this divisive world we find ourselves in, newfound inspiration is being created through films. As if not an icon of femininity already, the latest iteration of “Wonder Woman” became everything from a constant symbol of empowerment at the most recent Women’s March to my four year-old niece’s favorite costume.
Marvel’s newest film adaptation, “Black Panther”, has stirred a similar effect among its viewers. Critically acclaimed for his roles as Jackie Robinson in “42” and James Brown in “Get On Up”, Chadwick Boseman perfectly portrays T’Challa, a Wakandan king caught in the middle of a great conflict. Previously introduced in “Captain America: Civil War”, both the character of Black Panther and Boseman’s performance has quickly become the key highlight of the otherwise by-the-books superhero movie.
Released this past Friday, “Black Panther” has shattered several records at the box office. For starters, the film has been voted on movie aggregate site “Rotten Tomatoes,” as the best movie set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with many critics giving rave reviews about almost every aspect of the film, including the screenplay and the visual design. In terms of financial performance, the film has made $463 million worldwide since its release less than a week ago.

an image of Chadwick Boseman from a scene in the Black Panther

Chadwick Boseman in The Black Panther (cbc)

While it is certainly a huge financial success in its own right, the biggest success of “Black Panther” is one you can not put a dollar amount on.
Similar to how Wonder Woman has continued to inspire generations of women everywhere, both old and young, Black Panther has inspired the African American youth of today and tomorrow. The cast consists of talented black actors such as Forest Whitaker, Michael B. Jordan from the Rocky spinoff “Creed,” and The Walking Dead‘s katana-wielding Michonne, Danai Gurira. Jordan’s performance as the villainous Erik “Killmonger” Stevens deserves an Oscar nomination; and as for Boseman, his performance as T’Challa is surely another excellent role to add to his portfolio of excellent films.
Beyond cast performances, many fantastic people have been starting GoFundMe pages for underprivileged African American youth in Harlem to see the film; others have rented out an entire theater to screen the movie. Science & Entertainment Exchange Director for the National Academy of Sciences Richard Loverd told the Root magazine that the film will “increase interest in science, technology, and Africa for young black Americans”.
The amazing #BlackPantherChallenge was created by New York marketing consultant Frederick Joseph, who along with creating a GoFundMe page, raised a total of $42,000 and called for more “Black Panther Challenges”. This challenge further resulted in 10 different campaigns all raising a combined total of $100,000 more, with many notable black celebrities like Viola Davis and the Snoop Dogg, making sizable contribution to the campaigns.

An image of "Wakanda The Vote," a new voter registration drive inspired by Marvel's "Black Panther," and similar to "Barack The Vote"

Wakanda The Vote (Atlantic voice)

Another important and socially conscious way the film will continue to change the country is with the #WakandaTheVote campaign. Named after the fictional country featured in the film named Wakanda, three black women who started the Electoral Justice Project last October, have implemented this campaign to drive voter registration among African Americans. With their new campaign, Kayla Reed, Jessica Byrd and Rukia Lumumba have had over 1,000 people register to vote, and are expecting several thousand more.
Given the recent Alabama senate election where African Americans voted 98% in favor of Democrat Doug Jones over Roy Moore, the rest of America are finally aware of how important the black vote has always been. “Black Panther” is not only a great film, it will without a doubt go on to inspire future generations of African Americans in the classroom, movie theater, laboratory, and most importantly, the voting booth.

Did you like “Black Panther”? Tell me on Twitter at @CaptainKasoff.