Joseph Boamah watched Black Panther four times in theaters.
“I felt a connection because they’re my people,” Boamah, a senior studying communications and marketing, said. “I’ve been brought up around so many Nigerians and Ghanaians, so just to see Marvel do something huge with my culture was exciting and fascinating.”
Many of the characters wear kente cloths, a traditional piece of Ghanaian clothing made of silk and cotton with interwoven cloth stripes. His parents are from Ghana and possess a few of their own.
Boamah said he was already in touch with his African heritage before seeing the film. When he stays with his dad in Columbus, they’ll speak Twi and his dad’s accent is very similar to the African characters in the film.
In Black Panther, T’Challa returns to Wakanda after his father was killed. He becomes king of the technologically advanced African nation, but must deal with Ulysses Klaue and an outsider who has unknown ties to the country.
Black Panther will help people lose the mindset that African-Americans are more American than African and can’t be in touch with their family’s culture, Boamah said. Some of his friends in Columbus and New York showed their African pride by wearing traditional clothing to screenings of the film.
Honesty Thomas, a sophomore studying English — literature and writing, said Black Panther had a positive representation of African culture in a way that isn’t normally seen.
“It showed that African culture can be beautiful as well because that’s not always how it is represented within history,” she said.
Akil Houston, associate professor of cultural and media studies, said Black Panther went against the preconceived notion that films with mostly black casts can’t be successful and that white audiences were receptive to the film.
After Black Panther’s second weekend in theaters, it has grossed more than $704 million in the global box office.
Films like 12 Years a Slave and Selma have also been commercially successful, but it seemed to only be historical pieces that did well, Houston said. Black culture has usually only been shown in relation to issues such as slavery, civil rights or crime.
“Films like Black Panther show the depth and diversity of this community,” he said.
The fact that there was a predominantly black cast, a black director, a black costume director and more black talent behind the cameras really affected the response to Black Panther, Thomas said.
“For it to be an all-black cast, I think it was important to support the representation,” she said. “It was really important for my parents to see because they never had (this level of representation) growing up.”
Boamah said the movie has a cast of rising stars and established actors, including Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong’o, who really brought justice to the African roles.
“To have them step out of their comfort zone (and) learn accents to make the movie more authentic, it was just amazing,” he said.
The newest Marvel film had some shining examples of great black female characters who were there to be more than romantic interests, Houston said. Nakia, Okoye and Shuri are complex characters who have more than one role in relation to T’Challa and Wakanda. They each have integral roles in the central action that carries the plot forward, he added.
Kyle Billingslea, a sophomore studying business marketing, said he enjoyed T’Challa’s sister, Shuri, in the film because she was intelligent and became more involved as the film progressed because of her knowledge about Wakanda’s technology.
Black Panther is a really important film, Houston said, and a ripple effect always happens in the film industry when it comes to representation.
“Hopefully it’s one of those movies we’ll look back on and say is a turning point,” Houston said.