Last week, Marvel Studios released its latest and highly-anticipated film “Black Panther.” The superhero film drew widespread attention and gave the studio its biggest opening week at the box office thanks to its diverse cast and the introduction of a new superhero to the Marvel franchise.
The film, directed by Ryan Coogler, stars Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther — the king of Wakanda, a wealthy and technologically advanced African nation that hides behind a façade of poverty — as he battles an adversary played by Michael B. Jordan bent on redistributing the country’s resources to the impoverished African diaspora in an attempt to incite a world-wide revolution.
McDaniel College students were among the crowds who saw it on opening weekend.
Weston Funk, McDaniel sophomore and employee at the Regal Westminster 9 Theater, saw “Black Panther” on opening night. He praised Marvel’s character-centric plots — “they’re getting better with their storytelling because they flesh out the characters more” — and said this is one of studio’s best films.
The next night, he worked selling snacks to enthusiastic movie-goers.
“This has been my favorite [opening weekend] so far because everybody’s having such a good time,” Funk said.
McDaniel history major Katie Creveling was among those on opening weekend who was impressed with what they saw.
“I think this is a great example of history that not a lot of people get exposed to in their lives,” said the senior, referring to the film’s depiction of African culture. The Wakandan characters in “Black Panther” reflected traditional African practices such as stretched ears and scarification – patterns imposed onto the skin by branding.
Creveling also applauded the film’s portrayal of strong female characters. Three women take the lead in the movie: Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o and Letitia Wright play the roles of a high-ranking general, a Wakandan spy and the princess of Wakanda, respectively.
Further praise for Coogler’s film has commended its center on black culture.
For Jose Moreno, head of McDaniel’s Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion, this was a key element of the film. Moreno noted the importance of showing America’s black culture in a positive light.
“For people of color, for students of color, to see a black actor be in the center of a movie and the storyline revolving around that culture, and that race, is just really important,” he said. “I’m really happy that we got to see that.”
The OSDI, along with the college’s Office of Residence Life, provided students with transportation to the theater and with discounted tickets on Friday night for the Office of Residence Life’s Late Night Movie Run program. Moreno believed seeing the film was an empowering experience for students.
“It was a very proud moment for a lot of students, especially students of color,” he said.
Funk noticed the impact the film’s diversity has had on the community as well: he has seen a larger African-American presence at the theater.
“It’s amazing because they’re having a good time — because they see people that look like them on the screen,” he said.
Funk said he expects high numbers of people to come to the theater in the coming weeks for “Black Panther.” Creveling said she would see the film in theaters again.
“Who doesn’t love a Marvel movie?” she said.