22/02/2018 13:15 SAST | Updated 22/02/2018 14:03 SAST

'Black Panther' Strikes A Blow Against White Supremacy

In its opening week, the Marvel movie grossed R2.76-billion – but its triumphant black-consciousness themes are its real victory.

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters
The premiere of "Black Panther" in Los Angeles. January 29, 2018.

*Please note that this blog contains mild spoilers*

"Black Panther" has been a box-office phenomenon since its release. In its opening week, the Marvel movie grossed $235-million (~R2.76-billion) and is on its way to breaking box office records.

But regardless of its financial success, it is also a groundbreaking film with regard to social justice and the empowerment of black people worldwide – the messages built into its plot are a powerful symbol of defiance and resistance against the white supremacy and racism that still dominate spaces today.


Throughout the film, the audience enjoys the technological and educational greatness of Wakanda, sending a powerful message to those who ignore the qualities and potential of African states. The notion that African ideas, knowledge, technology and inventions are inferior is a key aspect of white supremacy. The message of Wakanda is that there are important sources of knowledge and insight in Africa that should never be overlooked.

People in the movie are critical of receiving "knowledge" and "resources" from Wakanda – an attitude common in our society too.

Throughout the film, women have powerful positions in politics, the army and Wakandan society as a whole.

Empowering women of colour

It is extremely rare for a movie to empower women of colour. In "Black Panther", the empowerment of black women is prominent and welcome. Throughout the film, women have powerful positions in politics, the army and Wakandan society as a whole.

These black women have influential, intellectual and respected voices. There are scenes where men are put in their place and taught lessons of respect by the women in the film. The women in "Black Panther" encourage black pride for women all over the world.


This is the first time that a superhero movie has included so many people of colour. It is finally a film which black people can relate to and see a superhero that looks like them. In other superhero stories, black individuals often play villains, gangsters and less important characters. "Black Panther" challenges the white supremacy of the film industry.

Dominating the spaces

One of the most concerning and subtle forms of white supremacy is white individuals dominating spaces, whether consciously or subconsciously, removing the possibility of other voices being heard. This continues today, even in feminist movements criticised for being whitewashed and exclusive.

"Black Panther"overturns this notion and ensures that the white men are put in their place and reminded that they should not try to speak on behalf of marginalised groups. Rather, they should use their white privilege for good.

"Black Panther" is one of the most successful movies to date. However, its challenge to white supremacy is its most notable feature. Hollywood should learn from the movie and continue to create films that empower, uplift and inspire marginalised groups.