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THE INHERENT POWER OF GENRE - PT. 6: 
MARVEL v. D.C. (pg. 6) 
 

REVIEWS: 

 

* The Avengers (5/6/12)  * MEMORIAL DAY 2012 – Red Tails, Memphis Belle, Flyboys, The Blue Max (5/28/12) 
Prometheus (6/11/12)   * The Amazing Spider-Man (7/9/12)   * 42 (4/17/13)   * Iron Man 3 (5/9/13)  
Godzilla – 2014 (5/18/14)   * Jurassic World (6/21/15)   * Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2/18/16)
Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice (6/21/16)   * Captain America: Civil War (5/13/16)

* Kong: Skull Island (3/12/17)    Star Wars: The Last Jedi (12/17/16)  Black Panther (3/5/18)



VIEWS ON FILM BY CEJ -    
The GRINDHOUSE: Reviews    
 









  _____________________________
 



Superhero-sized Mini Mag
Review and more


"BLACK PANTHER" PARTY: 
EVERYTHING OLD IS ...
HOLY SH*T ... NEW AGAIN
!


by CEJ
 
(posted 3/14/18)

BLACK PANTHER (2018)
(Marvel Studios / Walt Disney)
GullCottage rating
(***** on a scale of 1 - 5)


Dir. by - Ryan Coogler
Screenplay by - Ryan Coogler 
& Joe Robert Cole 
Based on BLACK PANTHER
by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Prod. by - Kevin Feige

Exec. Prods. - Victoria Alonso,
Louis D'Esposito, Nate Moore,
Jeffrey Chernov 
Dir. Of Photography -
Rachel Morrison
Edited by - Debbie Berman,
Michael Shawver
Production Design by -

Hannah Beachler
Costume Design by -
Ruth E. Carter
Music - Ludwig Goransson
Running Time: 134 mins.



CAST:

Chadwick Boseman (T'Challa / Black Panther), Michael B. Jordan (Erik Killmonger), Lupita Nyong'o (Nakia), Danai Gurira  (Okoye), Martin Freeman (Everett K. Ross), Daniel Kaluuya (W'kabi), Let
itia Wright (Shuri), Winston Duke (M'Baku), Sterling K. Brown (N'Jobu), Angela Bassett (Ramonda), Forest Whitaker (Zuri), Andy Serkis (Ulysses Klaue), Florence Kasumba (Ayo), John Kani (T'Chaka), David S. Lee (Limbani), Nabiya Be (Linda), Isaach De Bankole' (River Tribe Elder), Connie Chiume (Mining Tribe Elder), Dorothy Steele (Merchant Tribe Elder), Danny Sapani (Border Tribe Elder), Sope Aluko (Shaman), Atandwa Kani (Young T'Chaka), Ashton Tyler (Young T'Challa), Denzel Whitaker (James / Young Zuri), Stan Lee (Thirsty Gambler)


  


     Wow! One would have had to be living under the proverbial rock for the last year (or at least disconnected from TV and social media - which these days is kinda the same thing) to have not been aware of the increasing seismic activity in not just the comics-to-film world, but the film world in general, regarding the beyond-eagerly anticipated release of Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER. Pouncing with Vibranium claws at the ready from the heart of the MCU (that’s “Marvel Cinematic Universe”, c’mon, people, keep up, huh?) and into the 21st century filmic fray with 2016’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, his appearance in that admittedly over-stuffed-but-damned-incredibly-well-executed fulcrum shift film in the Marvel movie world excited both a generation only recently made aware of the African scientist / adventurer / king character as well as “back in the day” old schooler fans already in the loop as to the legendary status of the pop culture icon.



        



    
Yeah, in CIVIL WAR Prince T’Challa (he wasn’t yet officially King of Wakanda), as portrayed by Chadwick Boseman with a mixture of regal dignity and primal vengeance, had made a damned impressive cinematic debut. But, as was also the case in the days leading up to the “their own film” feature debuts of other “lesser-known-to-the-general-public” Marvel character adaptations (among them GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, ANT-MAN and DOCTOR STRANGE) for many there was still a year-long “waiting to exhale”-like period of
“Jeez, I sure hope they effin’ get this one right”.


   BLACK PANTHER director Ryan Coogler


      Well, let out a huge “Whew!”, loosen those tight super skivvies, and let a li'l cool refreshing air blow all up inside there. Because, opening President’s Day weekend 2018 to some of the best reviews and box office of any Marvel cinematic entry thus far, BLACK PANTHER earned its kingly crown as one of the most lauded comic book movies ever made. During it’s opening three day weekend (Fri. – Sun.) BLACK PANTHER entered the ranks with $201 million at the box office, and with $235 million as it’s four day holiday total - the largest February opening of all time, the second largest Marvel opening of all time (just after the original THE AVENGERS), and the third largest three and four day openings in box office history period! Overseas it pulled down over $185 million during that same period, bringing its global holiday weekend total to just shy of $420 million.

 
      By it's second weekend the film's worldwide cumulative take sat at $700 million and rising. And it had yet to open in what are considered two of the world’s most lucrative foreign markets – Japan and China. Now, that’s a lot of numbers. But perhaps the most important one is in how, taking into account that a film must earn back at least twice its budget to break even, the $200 million BLACK PANTHER is already resting (yeah, we’re goin’ there) more than comfortably “in the black”. Heh, heh! Sorry, couldn’t help it.

   


       On the aggregate ratings site Rotten Tomatoes.com BLACK PANTHER scored a rare 97% “Fresh” – indicating near universal acclaim among film critics. And from the point of view of audiences it received an A+ rating, the highest available on Cinemascore – which broke down said opening weekend audiences as 55% male, 45% female, and with a whopping 61% of that group over the age of 25, an age demographic normally considered anathema to “big, loud, noisy genre tentpole films”. A bonafied pop cultural phenomenon if there ever was one, the PANTHER has managed to supersede its genre “ROOTS” (yes, Alex Hailey pun entirely intended too!) in a way quite unexpected by many, yet unsurprising to some. But how and why?


   

      There’s “good”, “entertaining” and “smart”, … and director / co-writer Ryan Coogler (FRUITVALE STATION, CREED)’s big screen rendition of Stan Lee & Jack Kirby’s ahead-of-his-time super warrior / Avenger has been called all of those. But there’s also that which genre films can very often do (yes!) better than their more “serious” cinematic counterparts – which is to delve deeply, and often bravely, into the socio-political quagmire of race, gender, class, history and more because the “message” / socio-political agenda (if you will) is ohhh-so-deftly intertwined with, and inseparable from, the fun. If there’s one recurring theme in every entry of our ongoing THE INHERENT POWER OF GENRE series it is surely that - exemplified in literature and cinematic pop culture in everything from Shakespeare’s HAMLET wherein “The play’s the thing wherein I’ll capture the conscience of the King”, to the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War “thematic Easter Eggs” scattered throughout the original PLANET OF THE APES, to REVENGE OF THE SITH’s examination of modern day Fascism, to DOCTOR STRANGE’s warnings against the dangers of blind “religious” faith and fervor, and on through to BLACK PANTHER.




       Hopscotching back and forth, on the fun side of things Variety calls Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger “The most satisfying comic-book adversary since Heath Ledger’s ‘Joker’”, and Rolling Stone lavishes praise in how as filmic execution “BLACK PANTHER is alive with visual miracles”. On the socially relevant side of the coin the New York Times praises the film’s “next level” intent in how “Race matters in BLACK PANTHER and it matters deeply, not in terms of Manichaean good guys and bad, but as a means to explore larger human concerns about the past, the present and the uses and abuses of power”. And Chris Hardwicke’s Nerdist.com feels “What BLACK PANTHER means is everything, especially to any kid who has never put the words ‘African’ and ‘king’ together in the same sentence; or to any young woman who was ever discouraged from chasing a life in science and technology; (or) to anyone who was ever told ‘you fight like a girl’”. In it’s opening few days the film (and remember, we’re talking a “comic book film” here!) has emerged for many as a cinematic North Star of ethnic pride, with not just African American / black theater patrons in the U.S. leaving screenings with a sense of racial empowerment, but with audiences in South Korea and elsewhere encouraged to actively learn more of their own real world (as opposed to reel world) ethnic history, and determined to integrate that knowledge into the modern day lives of themselves and their children.
 

   



    
Oh, and speaking of children, you’ve also more than likely seen news reports on TV (especially on the ABC affiliates, as ABC is also owned by Marvel’s parent company Disney) of how various sports stars, entertainers and more, wanting young people to experience a positive and inspirational ethnic role model in the form of a mainstream black superhero, have purchased hundreds of tickets so that those young ones living in financially depressed neighborhoods may take field trips to see BLACK PANTHER for free. Therefore make no mistake in thinking that the accolades and early success of this film are but a fluke, luck or coincidence. Uh, uh! Perhaps more than anything it’s the thirst quenching response to a long extant void in the American cinemascape – every bit as much a cultural tectonic plate shift as was the success of last year’s WONDER WOMAN. But, herein (for us at least) lay the Shakespearean “rub” (as it were) in how, just as we felt a slight unease during the revelry of WONDER WOMAN’s much deserved praise, we now similarly have concerns about BLACK PANTHER’s.

   



     Not in regards to either film blowing the hinges off the box office, or in shattering Hollywood’s proverbial glass ceiling in numerous ways. Hardly! But rather concern in (for lack of a better term) the “tunnel vision”-like view such “hinge blowings” can and do tend to encourage within many who perhaps put a bit too much stock in said films per se rather than in their own superhero-like power as a mass audience collective to pull the tarp back from, and shine a light on, other such long ignored characters, film makers and more waiting to be discovered. We go into detail concerning this topic in our companion piece “Audience Self Determination: One Film Won’t Change An Industry (But Here Are Some Things We Can Do)”. Give a look-see when you get the chance. We believe it’ll stimulate some thinking (… as well as hopefully a little action). But in the meantime our fun-as-hell no spoilers review of Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER. After all that’s mainly what you came here for, right?

     


      And oh, if you’ve never read one of our GullCottage movie reviews before, well, yeah, this is why we call ‘em “A Film Review AND MORE”. We prefer to go a little beyond “Yeah, the film was good and worth seeing” or “Nah, it was terrible, skip it!”. We like to dissect them a bit to see what makes them tick. We attempt to see or determine in a more “below the surface” manner WHY a film may be worthy (or not) of your hard-earned 15 to 20 “e pluribus unums” which (as Mom and Dad used to always say) “Doesn’t grow on trees”.
 
      So …


BLACK PANTHER (Theatrical Trailer)

 


 
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     Oh, also, in order to save time and needless paragraphs of explanatory text, for those perhaps unaware of the backstory and canon of the BLACK PANTHER, check out this informative, entertaining and big time cool! IGN “COMIC BOOK 101” MINI-DOC on the history of the character ...






HOMELAND
 
BLACK PANTHER (2018) score - "Warrior Falls" (L. Goransson)


Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa: CAPTAIN AMERICA - CIVIL WAR (2016)


      All caught up? Nice! Now, as this is a no spoilers review you’ll find nothing here plot-wise, character-wise or other-wise you haven’t already been exposed to via the film’s trailers, commercial spots, and / or talk show guest appearances by cast and crew. That said, a brief synopsis …

     After the events of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, T’Challa – the heir / successor to the throne of Wakanda, Africa, returns to his homeland. A study in dichotomy, to the outside world Wakanda appears to be a third world agrarian based society while in actuality it is the tech world’s version of El Dorado: the wealthiest and most scientifically advanced nation on earth as for centuries its technology and economy has been based upon the rare super-element Vibranium which exists nowhere else on the planet.




     Wakanda’s dichotomous state is also exemplified in the philosophical differences between the members of its royal cabinet which includes Ramonda (in the film portrayed by Angela Bassett) – Queen Mother of Wakanda and T’Challa’s mother; Zuri (Oscar winner Forest Whitaker) - elder statesman / spiritual leader and Keeper of the Heart Shaped Herb; Shuri (Letitia Wright) – T’Challa’s 16-year-old sister and Wakanda’s resident “Q” or “Tony Stark”-like high tech inventor, Okoye (THE WALKING DEAD’s Danai Gurira) – head of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s Special Forces / Secret Service and personal bodyguard to T’Challa; and W’kabi (GET OUT’s Oscar nominated Daniel Kaluuya) – T’Challa’s best friend and head of the Border Tribe, the Wakandan military’s first line of defense. Most importantly there is Nakia (STAR WARS own Maz Katana, and 12 YEARS A SLAVE Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o) – T’Challa’s former lover, and member of the War Dogs, Wakanda’s CIA-like international undercover intel branch.


  
   BLACK PANTHER (2018)
 
 
     As the film opens Nakia is on an undercover mission in Nigeria to rescue enslaved women from a warlord who (if one has been following what’s been going on in that West African nation over the last decade and more, you realize) intends to sell them into the European sex slavery market. Following the mission’s success Nakia returns home to attend T’Challa’s coronation, and she and he get into a respectful debate on Wakanda’s responsibility (or not) to the rest of the world. It is the first real world, very grown up “next layer” moment in a film which we’ll soon discover is rife with them as T’Challa is faced with the age old conundrum of “Isolationism vs. Responsibility”; of “How much does a nation put its own people at risk by extending a hand towards another group of people?”.

    

     For centuries Wakanda has kept secret from the world it’s endless stores of Vibranium, as the mineral, under the proper conditions is more powerful than a split atom, and has the potential to change the course of human history for better or for worse. Captain America’s indestructible shield is of course fashioned from it. But in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON we also saw the lethal titular character attempt to take over the world by using the malleable element to create an artificial lifeform – one which later became Avengers team member The Vision. Oh, and incidentally, it was also that film which first introduced cinematic audiences to the recurring BLACK PANTHER comic book villain Ulysses Klaue (in the comics spelled as “Klaw”) - portrayed by LORD OF THE RINGS, PLANET OF THE APES actor Andy Serkis. And if stealing every single scene you’re in (with a mixture of sociopathic terror and childlike glee) were a crime, let’s just say Serkis would be “Walkin’ the Green Mile” for his enjoyably unhinged performance in BLACK PANTHER. Any way …




   

     On a more international scale Wakanda’s “Catch 22” / “Damned if we do; damned if we don’t reach out to our neighbors” scenario is a mirror of political history referencing everything from western involvement in the Israeli / Palestinian conflict, to the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and even to America’s isolationist policy in the years before Pearl Harbor. This while simultaneously functioning on a more personal scale as a deliberate analogy for every member of the audience who has ever found themselves weighing as to whether or not they should wade into a situation at work where someone is being abused, harassed or sexually compromised; or of becoming involved when one knows the neighbor across the street is in the midst of a negative and potentially dangerous domestic situation, etc. It’s the question of “When does ‘police action’ become ‘incursion?’”, or “When does concern for a friend, a neighbor or a co-worker cross the line and become digging into someone else’s personal affairs?”.




     Beyond those initial questions there are also considerations of the ramifications (potential personal blowback) of stepping out of one’s “own borders” and into someone else’s, even when possessed of the most positive of intentions. On a national level one may run the risk of opening up your own people to terroristic reprisals. And on a personal level, in an exemplification of how “No good deed ever goes unpunished” one may bring upon themselves the negative attention of someone who felt you would have been better served minding your own damned business.

     As he assumes the throne T’Challa’s primary concern, as was the primary concern of his father, and his father’s father, is the security and protection of his own people. But his conscience burns at the thought of what’s presently happening in neighboring countries such as Nigeria as well as the near genocidal discriminatory practices against people of color in even so-called “Advanced” nations such as America and those in Europe. This is much more than empty-headed “Pow!”, “Zowie!”, “KrackaVaroom!” stereotypical comic book type stuff. And it is here where we have to interject that this kind of deep social political material has ALWAYS been part and parcel of comic books, and far removed from the popular Adam West BATMAN / animated SUPER FRIENDS paradigm assumption that comics and their characters have always been (and will always be) “kid’s stuff”.



                 T'Challa vs. the KKK (JUNGLE ACTION #19)
               
                 The Mutant Registration Act (UNCANNY X-MEN #s 141-142, 183,188)
                
                 Cap exposes Richard Nixon (CAPTAIN AMERICA #175)
                
     



   
     Uh, huh! These socio-political layerings have always been there - from Superman’s appearance in a February 1940 issue of Look magazine where he preempts U.S. involvement in World War II by capturing Hitler and Stalin, and dropping them off for international trial at the League of Nations, to the first mention of the “Mutant Registration Act” in a pair of UNCANNY X-MEN issues (#s 141 – 142 / pub. Jan. - Feb. 1963) released during the height of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.


     There’s the 1974 issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA (#175) where at the climax Cap exposes the head of a conspiratorial terrorist group referred to as “The Empire” as being Watergate era U.S. President Richard Nixon. And of course there are the now famous depictions of T’Challa battling the Ku Klux Klan in the pages of JUNGLE ACTION (#19 / Jan. 1976). To harp on it just a little more consider Tony Stark’s battle with alcoholism in the now iconic nine issue INVINCIBLE IRON MAN story arc “Demon In A Bottle” (#120 – 128 / March – Nov. 1979); Bruce Banner’s past consisting of memories of child abuse, and those memories acting as catalysts in his transformations into the Hulk. And one of the most (now) well known examples of mature thematics woven into the warp and weft of a comic tale is X-MEN villain Magneto’s deliberate parallels to more militant Civil Rights figures such as Malcolm X and Meir Kahane, and his youth in a concentration camp (first mentioned in X-MEN #104 / April ‘77) which would serve as the basis for his more lethal Nemo-like POV in his battle against prejudice towards mutants.

     But don't make the mistake of thinking that thinking has to get in the way of good 'ol fashioned comic book (and cinematic) fun, action adventure and IMAX-sized razzle dazzle. Hardly! Sometimes you can both have your cake and eat it too.
 










                                                     ANCESTRAL PLANE

BLACK PANTHER (2018) score - "Killmonger" (L. Goransson)


                   BLACK PANTHER's original creators: "Smilin'" Stan Lee (L) and Jack "King" Kirby
                

     It is to the film BLACK PANTHER’s credit that while director Coogler makes it a major concern to remain faithful to the look of legendary artist Jack Kirby’s depiction of Wakanda as a metropolitan combination of ultra-futuristic and ancient traditional, that he and co-screenwriter Joe Robert Cole (THE PEOPLE VS. O.J. SIMPSON, THE ASSASSINATION OF GIANNI VERSACE) make it of even greater concern to remain faithful to five decades of BLACK PANTHER stories, canon and lore. And, as is often the case (as it certainly is in BLACK PANTHER) sometimes capturing the heart of canon can best be achieved by ironically breaking just a bit of it.




             

     Those familiar with the late great illustrator Jack “King” Kirby (1917 – 1994) - who along with Stan Lee and others created some of Marvel’s most iconic characters including CAPTAIN AMERICA, THE FANTASTIC FOUR, THE HULK, SILVER SURFER, SGT. FURY / NICK FURY, THOR and more, know that Kirby’s landscapes often border between the realms of high tech and near psychedelic surreal. And attempting to “capture Kirby” on film can be an elusive and potentially embarrassing endeavor bordering on the look of anachronistic 50s sci fi flicks if the visual tone isn’t nailed perfectly.




     For this reason many Marvel films have simply never even attempted it – that is with the notable exceptions of the three THOR films, especially the most recent THOR: RAGNAROK - which nails it to a tee, and BLACK PANTHER. As the Kirby landscape can be so surreal, fitting it into the confines of a recognizable reality often takes a great deal of CGI. And, just as with THOR: RAGNAROK, BLACK PANTHER at times comes dangerously close to too much CGI, which for us can kill a film as it immediately causes the audience to “check out” of reality and into fantasyland.

     As stated BLACK PANTHER comes close to too much CGI, especially in that car chase through Busan, South Korea, and during the climactic battle on the Wakandan plain. But Coogler and Cole keep the characters and narrative so based in identifiable real world relationships, geopolitics and questions of personal conscience, and close enough to their origins and motivations from the original publications, that those elements far outweigh the (admittedly enjoyable) computer generated razzle dazzle. Nowhere is this real world element more pronounced than in the film’s chief antagonist Erik “Killmonger” – portrayed by FRUITVALE STATION and CREED’s Michael P. Jordan.

 

     Created by Don McGregor & Rich Butler, Killmonger appeared in nearly twenty-five BLACK PANTHER issues from 1973 – 2008. Born in Wakanda under the name N’Jadaka, in the comic books young N’Jadaka and his family are exiled by T’Challa’s father, King T’Chaka, after his father is killed while plotting with Ulysses Klaue against the Wakandan throne. Vowing vengeance upon T’Chaka’s descendants, the young Wakandan eventually settles in Harlem, N.Y., later attends MIT, and eventually returns to his homeland as an adult, vowing vengeance upon T’Challa the present king, and upon Klaue. On more than one occasion over the years he challenges T’Challa for the throne, and in one instance, while the Panther is in America with the Avengers, he stages a coup and actually seizes it for a time in a bid to not only destroy T’Challa, but to strike out at the perpetrators of western colonialism.



   
     (click image to enlarge)
     

     The film version of Killmonger retains the DNA of his vengeance motivation against T’Challa and Wakanda, his upbringing in America, his stint as a top student at MIT, and even his return to Wakanda in an attempt to seize the throne. But his character is made more contemporary by making him a former U.S. Black Ops operative whose anger at both western colonialism and the plight of the black minority in other parts of the world was fueled during numerous secret missions across the globe.

      

     Along with issues of colonialism and the position of minorities around the world, one of BLACK PANTHER the movie’s most lauded attributes is another primary element taken directly from the comic books - the depiction of strong and super intelligent women in the form of Nakia (T’Challa’s ex and undercover CIA-like operative), Shuri (T’Challa’s younger sister and resident “Q”/Tony Stark-like inventor), and the all female Secret Service battalion of warriors the Dora Milaje. Interestingly however neither were present in the earliest PANTHER comic books, but were rather added later. This isn’t unusual with many (what are now) considered comic tropes and unshakeable near-religious character and story canon throughout the comic book world.




     For example, did you know that one of the most famous aspects of SUPERMAN lore, Kryptonite, didn’t exist in the original 1938 comics by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. While Siegel toyed with a prototypical version of the idea in an unpublished 1940 story called “The K-Metal From Krypton”, the Man of Steel’s now mythic “Achilles Heel” didn’t become an official part of the Superman universe until a June 1943 episode of the Bud Collyer-voiced “The Adventures of SUPERMAN” radio show entitled “The Meteor From Krypton”. And its usage in the plotline was more pragmatic than artistically driven. As the shows were performed live, when Collyer wanted to take a well earned vacation, Superman was placed in a trap filled with Kryponite, and a stand-in actor's voice groaned and wailed for the next few episodes until Collyer returned. Even Superman’s backstory about the destruction of Krypton, and mention of his father Jor-El didn’t enter the Superman narrative world until Superman began running as a daily newspaper strip. The same with Captain America’s former WWII teen sidekick Bucky Barnes, whom we couldn’t stand in the earlier Cap stories, being later reimagined / transformed into the much more interesting The Winter Soldier (CAPTAIN AMERICA VOL. 5 #11 / Nov. 2005).




       (L to R) Reginald Hudlin, Christopher Priest, John Romita, Jr.
       

     The BLACK PANTHER character of Shuri was created by writer Reginald Hudlin and artist John Romita, Jr., and first appeared in BLACK PANTHER #2 (May 2005). Best known as one half of the Hudlin Brothers film making team, Reginald’s directorial efforts include such hits as HOUSE PARTY, BOOMERANG, THE GREAT WHITE HYPE and MARSHALL – starring BLACK PANTHER’s Chadwick Boseman as a young pre-Supreme Court Thurgood Marshall. And his various TV credits include multiple episodes - as producer, writer and / or director - of THE BERNIE MAC SHOW, THE OFFICE, THE MIDDLE, MODERN FAMILY, and as (most notably for our purposes here) show runner / writer and occasional director of BET’s MARVEL’S BLACK PANTHER animated series (2010) which featured the voices of Djimon Hounsou as T’Challa, SCANDAL’s Kerry Washington as Shur, Alfre Woodard as Queen Mother (Ramonda), R&B legend Jill Scott as the X-MEN’s Storm, and good ‘ol “Smilin’” Stan Lee himself as U.S. General Wallace. 

      



     Both Nakia and the all female fighting force, the Dora Milaje, were created by novelist / musician / comic book writer Christopher Priest, and first appeared in BLACK PANTHER VOL. 3 #1 (Nov. 1998). Beginning as an intern at Marvel Comics in 1978, he’d become a part of the publisher’s editorial staff in ’79, then eventually the first African-American editor in mainstream comics, working on titles such as CONAN THE BARBARIAN, POWER MAN AND IRON FIST, SPIDER-MAN and THE FALCON. Priest claims the visual inspiration for the look of the Dora Milaje were supermodels Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks.


     Priest is also creator of the CIA character Everett K. Ross, who becomes T’Challa’s ally and eventual U.S. liaison between Wakanda and America, and who in the film is portrayed by THE HOBBIT, HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY and SHERLOCK’s Martin Freeman. Entering the Marvel film universe in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, his first comic book appearance was in KA-ZAR Vol. 3 #17 (Sept. 1998). And for those unaware, Ka-zar was a Tarzan-like character who originally appeared in a series of Edgar Rice Burroughs / Robert E. Howard-inspired pulp magazines of the 1930s before being revamped by Marvel’s publishing predecessor Timely Comics in the 1940s.

     Finding a better home / better fit for the character in the later day BLACK PANTHER stories, the book version of Ross functioned as dual comic relief (with a steady supply of snarky Chandler Bing-inspired verbal zingers)  and as surrogate for the audience, a large part of which Priest knew would be white males with numerous presuppositions about African history and culture. Ross therefore became the often ignorant POV eyes, and at times borderline racist mouth, which many readers would bring with them. And just as Ross’s stereotypical assumptions were usurped time and again, so would be that of those readers.    


                          
                           
                                                                   (Continued next page ... 7) 

                           
           
                                                                  
Pg.  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

    
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