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The First Reactions To 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever' Are In

By Brian Richards | Marvel Movies | October 27, 2022 |

By Brian Richards | Marvel Movies | October 27, 2022 |


When I wrote about Black Panther and its purple-carpet premiere back in 2018, I discussed how lovely and amazing the cast members looked, as well as the many other celebrities who arrived at the premiere to see the film, to show their support, and to stunt for all of the cameras while looking sharper than Wolverine’s claws. Thanks to the #BlackPantherSoLIT hashtag that was created going all the way back to pre-production and casting for the original film, anticipation was extremely high, and fans were counting down the days until they could finally see Black Panther for themselves and discover if it truly lived up to the hype.

(deep, heavy Negro spiritual sigh)

Since then … there have been so many ways in which the world has changed, and not all of them for the better. 2020 not only saw the beginning of the worldwide catastrof-ck that is the COVID-19 pandemic, but it also brought the shocking and heartbreaking news that actor Chadwick Boseman died from colon cancer at the age of 43. It was, and still is, a loss that his fans and his peers are still recovering from and trying to deal with.

Because Boseman was best known for his unforgettable role as King T’Challa, a.k.a. the Black Panther, one inescapable thought came to mind: What is Marvel and Disney going to do about the role of T’Challa, and how will it be handled in any upcoming films featuring the character of Black Panther? The idea of recasting the role is one that was discussed, and it continues to be a heated topic on social media. As to how Marvel, Disney, and Chadwick Boseman’s collaborators chose to handle his absence, and that of T’Challa’s? We regular-degular folks won’t find out for ourselves until next month, but those who were fortunate enough to attend last night’s premiere of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever got to see the film for themselves and find out how those questions were answered.

Despite the general mood at the film’s purple-carpet premiere not being as jubilant as it was back in 2018 for the premiere of Black Panther, it was still seen as a moment of celebration for all of the hard work by the Wakanda Forever cast and crew, and for the life and legacy of the late, great Chadwick Boseman.

Rihanna also made an appearance at the Wakanda Forever premiere, alongside her partner, A$AP Rocky. She also recorded two songs for the film, “Lift Me Up,” and “Born Again,” which will be heard during the closing credits.

Rihanna was also photographed on the purple carpet with Taylor Simone Ledford, the widow of Chadwick Boseman.

Shortly after the premiere ended, critics began sharing their early reactions to the film.

Seeing this many positive reactions for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will certainly make a lot of fans even more excited as they wonder why the release date couldn’t be for this very weekend. But despite those glowing responses, and the numerous celebrities dressed to the nines on the purple carpet, there was one issue brought up on social media regarding this premiere. And it’s the fact that Marvel and Disney failed to reach out to as many Black critics, bloggers, and artists as possible in terms of inviting them to attend the premiere. Specifically Black women, and Latina women, considering that they make up the majority of the cast in this film. Even those who have shown highly visible support to Black Panther through their work ended up hearing nothing but crickets while others got to walk the purple carpet. Writer-podcaster Karama Horne, who recently wrote the Marvel book Protectors of Wakanda: A History and Training Manual for the Dora Milaje wasn’t asked by Marvel and Disney to attend the premiere. Kayla Sutton, the critic/social media marketer who created the #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe hashtag that went viral and gained massive attention from the media, while also allowing fans to express on Twitter why they cared so much about the Black Panther? Also not invited by Marvel and Disney.

Jamie Broadnax, editor-in-chief of Black Girl Nerds, and one of the founders of the catastrophic failure that was Universal FanCon? She was somehow able to score an invite.

(I don’t know how effective or successful this was, but the gesture is greatly appreciated.)

This is not the first time that Black people who work in journalism and media have been ignored and overlooked by studios when it comes to attending premieres, or being permitted to provide interviews and press coverage for movies and television shows, and it unfortunately won’t be the last. No matter how much it is pointed out that certain brands and companies practically beg Black critics/bloggers/influencers to shine a light on their clients and their products so that they gain more visibility and profitability, those same brands and companies refuse to show them any gratitude or reciprocity after they get what they need and want. It’s both tiresome and predictable, and in the year 2022, these brands and studios should know much better than to act as if white critics/bloggers/influencers are the only ones who are worthy of their attention and their access.

I’m not trying to throw dogsh-t on anyone’s picnic, or convince everyone that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever should be cancelled or ignored upon its release. But Marvel and Disney could’ve and should’ve done a lot better in reaching out to make sure that the representation that is reflected onscreen in this film was reflected in the people who were provided with access and coverage to see this film and talk about it with the artists who helped to make it a reality. Much like the poor treatment that a lot of visual-effects technicians must deal with, Marvel and Disney aren’t the only studios in the industry who are guilty of such conduct, but they are undeniably the biggest. If they can be made to answer for their mistakes and their bad behavior about this? Then hopefully, other studios will change their ways and stop making it necessary for us to repeat this lesson until they finally learn it.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opens in theaters November 10.

Image sources (in order of posting): Marvel Studios, Getty Images, Twitter