Brooklyn Boro

At Black Panther’s Brooklyn premiere, attendees celebrate heritage

February 22, 2018 By Edward King Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
An attendee dressed up in traditional African clothing for the premiere. Eagle photos by Edward King
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Creatively draped in a variety of traditional African-inspired garb and comic book cosplay, attendees at the purple carpet advanced screening of Marvel’s highly anticipated superhero movie “Black Panther” looked more like characters from the film than moviegoers.

This was the scene at Friday’s Crown Wakanda event at Downtown Brooklyn’s Alamo Drafthouse, where the-majority black attendees relished at the unique opportunity to not only see the formal introduction of the feral superhero to the Marvel Comic Universe, but to see themselves represented in the film as well.

“As an elder, I have the opportunity in my lifetime to actually participate in an event that envisions Africa like I believe it was intended to be,” said Hazel Beckles Young-Lao of Brooklyn. “Therefore, I felt it was very important in support of the cast and the vision to actually have constructed this movie from a comic”

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Curated in partnership between the Brooklyn National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Fan Bros Show and the Black Girl Nerds Podcast, Crown Wakanda was equal parts movie premiere as it is an ongoing movement “created to inspire and embrace the uniqueness, complexity and beauty of the African diaspora,” according to the event’s Eventbrite page.

As part of the initiative, the Fan Bros Show, currently consisting of DJ Benhameen and Tatiana King Jones, partnered with the Brooklyn NAACP to host eight weeks of workshops up to and after the movie premiere aimed to teach children and young adults how to build their own Wakanda. This consisted of teaching the group about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics technology, economics, forms of government and what colonization means; all the tools they’d need to build a society from the ground up not shown in their everyday lives.

Attendees at the Crown Wakanda Black Panther premiere.

“People discount the importance of mass media. It’s important because it helps set the tone in our culture it reinforces stereotypes and images,” said Brooklyn NAACP President L. Joy Williams. To have a film such as this and to have a renaissance and a resurgence of people of color, particularly African Americans being able to create films like this, to have the budgets for films like this and to have pay equity in projects like this is important. It demonstrates that we are able and capable of doing projects that have universal themes that other people can identify with and then see themselves in other people of color.”

After posting an approximately $202 million opening weekend that smashed box office records, “Black Panther” goes above and beyond to show the capability of minority filmmakers. At No. 5 on the all-time opening weekend chart, the film is only succeed by international heavyweights like “Star Wars” and Marvel’s strongest series: “The Avengers.” With the astounding figures and cultural significance in tow, Black Panther is a clear sign to the film industry that a change is overdue.

“This film is not the culmination of our efforts on the show but the catalyst for even more efforts, said DJ Benhameen of the Fan Bros Show. “This is like what we’ve been waiting for since before we even started the show but it’s really more so looking towards the future. This is going to open so many doors. There’s going to be so much chance that we feel because of this film. We feel that this is going to be a seismic shift in how Hollywood sees us, how people outside of Hollywood sees us, and the way the mainstream sees people of color. It’s one of the most phenomenal films of our lifetime.”

Primarily set in the fictional nation of Wakanda, the movie follows Prince T’Challa, who takes the mantle of the Black Panther following his father’s assassination. The film itself is a stunning introduction of the “Black Panther” universe. It entices the audience with complementary and complex visuals and sound while keeping myself grounded as a superhero movie unafraid of making poignant social commentary, a sentiment echoed by attendees like Daniel Harris.

“It was even better than I expected to be, honestly. There’s a lot of hype around it, so you’d kind of expect maybe people are trying to build it up to be better than it is but after actually seeing it.” Harris added. “It’s great.”


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