At first glance, you might think, “Awesome! Black Panther is included with Captain America and Iron Man!” Yup. On Entertainment Weekly’s cover, the iconic black superhero shoulders up to the titular star of Captain America: Civil War and arguably the MCU’s most popular figure. But look closely. While Cap and Stark get to glare out, faces full of drama and determination, Black Panther’s presence is undermined by a dialogue prompt that reads “Meow.”
Meow? As Black Panther isn’t as well known as other Marvel heroes, this cover will serve as an introduction to many movie fans. And EW decided to show this powerful superhero making the sound of a cuddly kitten? But that’s not the only emasculating dig. There’s also this galling gem:
“The biggest Marvel movie yet introduces Black Panther. He’s tall, powerful — and has claws that a Real Housewife would envy.” EW is comparing this landmark hero to a tacky reality TV trainwreck. Classy.
Here’s some of the reactions from Twitter:
Cap 3 according to Entertainment Weekly Cap: I won't register with the government IM: Do it or else Black Panther: *hacks up furball*— DeShawn (@DeShawnstantine) December 3, 2015
Whoever designed this Black Panther/Civil War EW cover must be a huge DC fan! "Meow"? "Housewife Envy"? What?! https://t.co/HLCkLWKoel— Superhero News (@SuperheroNewsCB) December 2, 2015
Black Panther fans at Entertainment Weekly rn pic.twitter.com/4KvBwkXWLb— DeShawn (@DeShawnstantine) December 2, 2015
Sure, the MCU has Anthony Mackie’s Falcon. But Black Panther will be the first black MCU hero to get his own movie, due out in 2018. So why is EW mocking him before audiences are even properly introduced to the character?
Albert Ching over at Comic Book Resources called the magazine out, writing:
Yes, one of the most historically significant characters in comic book history has been reduced to a joke — twice! — on the magazine cover where potentially millions of people (don’t forget the multitudes who will see this cover in our nation’s grocery stores and doctor’s offices) will see said character for the first time. It’s not fair to Boseman, an acclaimed actor set for the highest-profile role of a career that’s already included some rather major roles (playing Jackie Robinson in “42,” playing James Brown in “Get On Up”). It’s not fair to the comics fans to whom Black Panther means a great deal in terms of progress and representation. It’s not fair to comics in general, as it’s yet another reminder that for a large part of the population, the medium is and will remain something to not take seriously at all costs. (And do panthers even meow?)
Monkeys Fighting Robots agrees:
The picture that EW is painting here is that Cap and Iron are to be taken seriously while Black Panther is not. It is safe to say while EW has a fairly large circulation, not everyone is going to take the time to read the article and will see the funny cat man standing behind them and dismiss Black Panther as a sidekick type. Hardly what the character and the actor portraying him..seems to deserve. So in two strokes, Entertainment Weekly has told everyone who may see their magazine that not only is Black Panther not worthy of showing his face along his co-stars, but that he is ‘less than’ with derision that while attempting to be clever, comes off as outright derision.
Atlanta Black Star declared:
Let’s face the facts— there are very few powerful Black characters on the silver screen and the fact that Black Panther is treated like this shows that Black power is a threatening thing.
EW can and should do better.
Anthony Breznican, who wrote the accompanying EW article, has publicly recognized fans’ concerns.
This is very well said, and it deserves to be acknowledged. Thanks to you and others for the thoughtful responses. https://t.co/grMTeyktNd— Anthony Breznican (@Breznican) December 2, 2015
Some fans have suggested the preview cover be revised before its hits newsstands today. But considering it still stands on their site, and is boasted as their pinned tweet. This change seems unlikely.
Captain America: Civil War hits theaters May 6th, 2016. Black Panther follows February 16th, 2018.
Kristy Puchko can’t even sometimes.