#BlackPanther & #WonderWoman: A Greater Purpose

By S.James

In the midst of the comic book to movie hype and the banner you see at the top of this page, I would be wrong to not to throw in some commentary about the recent superhero buzz.  But how can I spin this to talk about purpose?  As I see the movie reviews about Wonder Woman and the reviews on the Black Panther movie trailer,  I realized just how much something different has been missing in media culture.  The level of surprise and excitement concerning both movies isn’t to be overlooked.  Not that people weren’t super excited about the many other superhero movies, but this excitement is different.  It’s like a breath of fresh air in the midst of recirculated air.  These two movies revive the minds and pump new blood into the heart of superhero movie fanatics.  Being a movie connoisseur of this type, whether DC or Marvel (although I lean more towards Marvel), I think I know exactly what makes these two new movies a breath of fresh air: a female superhero and a black superhero as the lead characters.

With the introduction of these type of characters as the focal point, this makes the world of superhero characters seem much broader.  A female superhero or black superhero has only been shown as a sidekick to mainstream’s majority leads.  And in some areas of our real world, women and blacks can be deemed “lesser” than the other counterparts.

So what does this have to do with purpose?

As kids, most of us want to emulate what we see on TV.  The images produced helped shape the course of our thinking whether it was the clothing of a music artist or the way an actor carried out a certain behavior.  We can’t deny that media images are powerful.  But as a little girl or a young black boy, who is there to emulate in media that has integrity, cares immensely about good and other people, and is powerful? Not much.  Media is swarmed with images of favorite actors or music artists swimming in a pool filled with drugs, lies, selfishness, and sexual promiscuity.   The lead “superheroes” that come across the screens are usually not for the little girl or little black boy, but nevertheless these children exist.  There are so many diverse groups of people that make this world a better place.  It’s this diverseness which gives life flavor.  And more of it needs to be seen on the big screens.

Like Wonder Woman shows, women have such great ability to contribute good things and change the course of society.  A woman’s purpose can be beyond the traditional immediate family.  She can make laws, create businesses, and even help save a life.  Young girl’s need to see that there is strength in being female and she should never be made to feel less-than. 

The same goes for young black boys.  With Black Panther, he can begin to see that his identity doesn’t have to be defined by a rap star who curses or talks bad about women.  A young black male can also begin to see that he doesn’t have to be consumed with hating the police.  He can understand that he has a purpose to contribute something great to society and strive towards that accomplishment. 

Society would be a better place if we had more diverse images of strength, honor, and integrity coming across our screens.  But until that happens, let’s make sure to take our young girls and young black boys to see Wonder Woman and Black Panther when it comes out.  These movies can serve a greater purpose than just entertainment.  Let’s #beaboutsomething and change the hearts and minds of young people everywhere.