How African-American Writers Have Revived And Reshaped “Black Panther”

from co.CREATE

When Marvel Comics announced this week that red-hot cultural commentator Ta-Nehisi Coates would be writing its new Black Pantherseries, comics fans and people who are invested in progressive views on social justice both had serious freakouts. Coates is one of the most perceptive and thoughtful writers working today, and he’s also a lifelong comic book fan—a combination that should help elevate the new Black Panther title to one of the flagship books in Marvel’s line.

That’s fitting, given the company’s plans for the character — Black Panther is a big part of the cinematic future of the Marvel Universe, with an anticipated debut in next year’s Captain America: Civil War, and his own solo adventure due in 2018—but it’s also the sort of thing Marvel has done with the Black Panther for years. While the character’s publication history has been on and off—Coates’s Black Panther will be the sixth time Marvel has launched a title starring the character—over the past few decades, the company has recognized that if you’ve got a series called Black Panther and starring a superhero from an unconquered African nation, it’s probably one that you want a person of color to handle.

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12 Responses to How African-American Writers Have Revived And Reshaped “Black Panther”

  1. Aaron Varghese September 25, 2015 at 5:46 pm #

    Based on the article, I am very excited to see Marvel’s plans for the upcoming “Black Panther” comics and his importance to the overall Avengers timeline. Being a big fan of the Avengers and other Marvel movies and comics, I am highly optimistic in regards to the overall production of this film. While the Black Panther may not necessarily be as popular as renowned superheroes like Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk, he is definitely a character with one of the most unique backgrounds out of all the Avengers. This unique quality is that Black Panther is one of the first African-American superheroes in Marvel and has often been looked up to, or idolized, by many other later African-American Marvel superheroes as well, including the Falcon and Luke Cage. Based on the article, news has been released that Marvel intends on using cultural commentator Ta-Nehisi Coates to write the upcoming Black Panther comic series. Having Ta-Nehisi Coates as the chief writer will bring a whole new political and cultural twist towards the whole series. While some may argue that the Black Panther comic series is going to be good because it is now in the hands of someone of color, I personally believe any unique and interesting twists will come from Coates’ political and social outlooks, which may in fact, tie in to his own cultural background. Black Panther series have only been released a total of six different times, and are believed to not do the correct amount of justice that the Black Panther deserves. In one of the comic series, the Black Panther is depicted as an African royalty living in America, where African-Americans of equivalent status are substantially rare. This was probably one of the best Black Panther series ever released, starting up in 1998 and ending its impressive run in 2003. However, as talk continues to stir with the involvement of Ta-Nehisi Coates in the new upcoming series, fans are gaining increased excitement as to what the great commentator has to say about the Black Panther as he writes the new comic series. There is also a potential downside to the involvement of Ta-Nehisi Coates. Ta-Nehisi Coates may utilize his cultural and political commentaries to such an extreme, that fans may witness the Black Panther as some crazed radical bent on justice towards incredibly specific social or political issues that may not be of the greatest appeal to many readers. I am personally more than thrilled about including political and social issues to raise insightful and profound arguments to the reader to ponder upon, but I would not be very excited to find out the entire comic series is devoted to various political and social issues instead of the Black Panther himself. This could potentially be the case as well, and would make numerous readers both disappointed and unsatisfied with the takes and commentaries of writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates. As for the movies mentioned within the article, I am very excited to see the first time appearances of the Black Panther on the big screen as a part of the Avengers. expected to debut in Captain America: Civil War, many fans, including myself, are ecstatic to see the underpraised superhero, Black Panther, become involved in the world-renowned movie series. I am certain that the release of his own movie in 2018 will also prove to be a major success as long as they focus on developing the character instead of focusing on developing the political, cultural, and social, issues he may potentially be combatting.

  2. Cai Johnson September 25, 2015 at 7:10 pm #

    I knew nothing about Black Panther before reading this article. I actually called my dad who is a big Marvel fan to get a better perspective on the character. After hearing the story of Black Panther I have to admit he’s a pretty cool character. Being the first major black superhero with powers by Marvel is unique in itself. The fact he’s royalty from Africa is icing on top of the cake (it made me think of Coming to America). I have mixed emotions about the writer controversy. Originally he was created by men who weren’t black. Black Panther was considerably successful upon initial release of the comic. I’m not sure if it matters whether it matter whether the writer is black or not. It’s a comic, there’s only so much room for social commentary. Yet, at the same time I feel like if you’re trying to revamp an old character and have him be cool and engaging in present day he needs to be written by a black guy. The feel I sensed for the article is that they’re anticipating Coates to write this awesome superhero who has a certain swag about himself. Who also can bring a not so overbearing social commentary to the movie or series. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how his character is re-introduced and developed. The article aims to highlight the expectations of the series, upcoming movies, and the reemergence of this superhero. I think the article simultaneously highlights the importance of the position Coates is in. He’s a notable writer and as of now is the best fit to write for Marvel. My only problem with this is that there’s this huge importance of the character being written by someone who is black. I’ve seen plenty of Marvel’s films and read a few comics it doesn’t seem imperative that Black Panther’s writer is black. We can look to Disney and see that the writers for major characters of color aren’t always of color. The movie Princess and The Frog is a great example. Wouldn’t have made sense that the writers were from the New Orleans and black? The experience and social commentary that Coates will bring to writing the series will probably be phenomenal. I just don’t believe its something to rave over.

  3. Themba Lungu September 25, 2015 at 7:31 pm #

    After Marvel comics big summer event which saw the reshaping of its universe, new titles across the board are starting at issue #1 labeled as the “All-New, All-Different Marvel”. This is reminiscent of when DC comics relaunched their comic universe in 2011 by combining all 52 of their multiverse complex into a “New 52”. Although I prefer DC over Marvel, I have always been a huge Black Panther fan. He is hailed as the first black superhero in mainstream comics and is a very unique character. He is a critical part of the Avengers and Marvel canon. As of the recent boom in popularity in Marvel characters, because of the movies, Black Panther is getting more exposure than ever as he is now slated for his live-action debut in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and his own live-action solo series in 2018.
    The writer for the new Black Panther series, Ta-Nehisi Coates, is entering a series that hasn’t had a solo title in 10 years. The most famous of Black Panther runs comes from Christopher Priest who launched most of what is canon to the Black Panther mythos. He focused on the kingship of Black Panther and the idea of the Black Panther title being passed down through generations. I have read Priest’s run and watched the BET series based on his run and both are amazing. Black Panther has had two other writers take on his mythos but none were as influential as Priest’s run, or as long. Priest also focused on the diplomacy of Black Panther and his relations with America. Black Panther excels because of his unique lineage as a king and because of the political and ethical views the writers of this character embodies. He ranges from an inventor, ruler, diplomat, ambassador, and role model. Other black superheroes in the Marvel canon, such as Luke Cage and Falcon, idolize the Black Panther.
    Ta-Nehisi Coates has a lot on his shoulders. Although Black Panther is not one of Marvel’s flagship properties he is still essential to the canon and has amassed a large following. In addition, in this day of age where comics has a diverse audience it is important to have these characters reflect the readers. Black Panther is not just another superhero but is arguably the biggest black superhero in all of comics. It is only write that the writer embodies his image, which is probably the reason why blacks are the ones considered to direct or write his projects.

  4. Matthew Flanagan September 25, 2015 at 9:29 pm #

    I’m extremely surprised at the fact that they’re actually coming out with the movie “Black Panther.” I like to consider myself a huge DC and Marvel fan but I rarely keep up with what they’re actual plans are for movies. In all honesty, I had no idea this character even excited because I got into superhero movies when the first Iron Man came out sometime in 2008. But I am really excited because this character does not look like your typical superhero. Most superheroes today wear very vibrant colors, with the exception of Batman but he’s a DC superhero so it doesn’t really count. The cover that was made of the Black Panther makes him look like a pretty bad ass superhero. Something that Captain America or Iron Man don’t give off as superheros. The black panther is taking the conventional thought of superheroes of being white men from america, and flipping it around. The Black Panther is the only Black, non- american superhero I can think of. The Black Panther is a character who immediately makes one think of social justice. After all, that is what a superhero does; promote social justice. That is what every super hero has done since captain america was created. Iron man fought to keep his weapons from killing people, and superman fought to protect everyone as well.
    The black panther immediately reminded me of the black panthers movement of the civil rights era lead by Malcolm X. With the Black Panther not being from the United States and not being the typical white superhero, It also makes sense that the Black Panther represents the black panther movement which promoted separatism instead of integration. This, for the people of the black panther movement was their idea of social justice.
    The Black Panther represents a different type of social justice. A form of social justice that is different from the typical one.

    • Matthew Flanagan September 25, 2015 at 9:41 pm #

      The Black Panther is something different, not only in its physical appearance, but also its ideas.
      The Black Panthers of the civil rights era were very aggressive towards whites because they hated they way that the whites were treating blacks. The black panther’s form of justice was violence on white people for the harm that they have caused black people. The black panther’s opinions were not the norm of the time. Some people believed that Martin Luther King Jr’s peaceful approach was not strong enough and would come off as weak and eventually be unsuccessful. Because of this view, many people began to get fed up with the peaceful movement and started to become violent in order to get a stronger message across to whites.
      The movie Black Panther represents this violent form of social justice instead of a peaceful passive form of justice. I believe that the black panther can be expected to be very violent (as an actual Panther is) in his attempts to bring justice to society.
      I am very exited to see how the black panther movie will turn out. I think that they made the right choice by having a person of color write the movie because of the sensitive topic.

  5. Laure Walker September 26, 2015 at 6:28 pm #

    Before reading this Article, I had a different perspective. I had no idea this article was going to be about a comic book character. I am not a comic book fan, and I can barely tell the difference between Marvel, and DC. Originally, I thought it was going to focus more on African-American writers praising the efforts of Black Panthers and perhaps even simplifying all of their efforts for younger readers. However, once I began reading the article, I was enthusiastic about the idea of having a “black panther” character.

    I agree with the author of this article, “when hiring someone to write the character, it is appropriate to leave it in the hands of a writer of color.” It makes sense to have someone who has experienced life as a person of color to write more character stories of people of color, also. I believe this new series will be successful because of the expertise Ta-Nehisi Coates brings when creating this story. Furthermore, I think that the “black panther” should have some historical information for its readers. It should especially inform its young readers about history during the Civil Rights Movement and what the Black Panthers achieved.

  6. Omar Lopez September 28, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

    Moves like these, are steps in the right direction that other film companies should be following through with. Ta-Nehisi Coates is an incredible writer, and even more importantly than that, he is a writer who is very much aware of the evolving landscape of race relations in the United States. Marvel is a juggernaut, not only in film, but within pop culture as a whole. Every year superhero movies monopolize our time and our wallets, generating record breaking numbers almost every premiere. However, most of the characters are white and even characters like Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie, are unable to stand up to the sheer gravitas and inspiration that Black Panther embodies. Crucially, (in my opinion stemming from the Stonewall controversy,) Marvel has elected to hire a black man to write the comics for a very important and very pro-black superhero. It seems like a no brainer to allow writers to write about the subjects and genres they have first hand experience in, but as we know it doesn’t always work out that way. I’m really excited for Black Panther, not just as a future addition to the Avenger universe, but also for the standalone Black Panther films and the dialogues they will soon create.

  7. Anthony Hector October 2, 2015 at 8:25 pm #

    A lot of superheroes stand for things and situations that are going on in the world. During the World Wars were going on the superhero named Superman was created and he was this superhero for America and he was created and by the time World War 2 started for American Superman was known and it almost gave hope to the younger generation. The superhero that was seen as a beacon of hope during World War 2 was definitely Captain America. He was this super soldier who was as patriotic as anyone can get. With this Superhero they tried to embody the strength that America has during the War and make soldiers believe they can be like Captain America. The same goes for the creation of Black Panther. At the time Black Panther was created the African American race was discriminated against and this superhero can give hope to the entire African American race to become stronger people. When people are discriminated against there is a sense of self-consciousness because of all the hate that comes there way. No one should ever feel this way so the creation of Black Panther directly correlates with the African American struggle to help them to know African Americans are a strong people.

    A political party was created in the 80’s called the Black Panther and it was to show that the African American people would not stand for the discrimination any longer. This came to a high point when Rodney King was viciously beaten and the African American people wanted to show that they were not going to stand for any of the mistreatment any longer. So when a superhero like that gets created It brings strength to all that read it because most superheroes that were created before are mostly white, but a Black superheroes can give hope to any black person to believe that they have this strength as well. I believe that the reprinting of it today is definitely needed because I feel the minority people in America are starting to get their voices heard and some are getting discriminated against like the police brutality things that have been going on the last couple years. The reestablishing of this empowering character can show the strength of the African American people as a whole.

  8. Bria Mosely November 11, 2015 at 1:53 am #

    I am excited to hear the production of Black Panther will begin very shortly, though there are usually downfalls associated with the remake of movies. As stated in the article, both authors, Priest and Hudlin, based their versions of Black Panther on different concepts. Priest based his version on African royalty, and Hudlin based his on power and taking over the world. Futhermore, this can lead to writers and directors missing key concepts and points when remaking classic movies or comics.
    Black Panther was the first black superhero with actual superpowers. The whole concept of Black Panther was completely African based which is one key concept writers and directors should not miss. Remakes especially in today’s age have a tendency to make subtle changes to things in order to Americanize it in a sense. The author grazed over this idea by his statement describing Black Panther, “a superhero from an unconquered African nation… it’s probably one that you want a person of color to handle”. Properly projecting a classic comic or movie period only appeals to fans and viewers even more. After reading other posts it seems that some confuse Black Panther the character, with the civil rights group and times of discrimination for African Americans. The character represents something along the lines of Priest’s concepts. Black Panther means royalty, he was a leader in the African kingdom in which he also protected. Ironically, this is the exact opposite of what others are referring to. As we all know, during the civil rights era people of color were not treated as royalty, rather close to nothing. This just goes to show that writers and authors have a huge responsibility in properly portraying films as they were intended to be.

  9. Brendan J. Kane January 26, 2016 at 4:37 pm #

    The comic book market has seen a revitalization thanks to the growing popularity of movie adaptations of its stories. That being said, a variety of characters are receiving more attention than they have in the past because of this. One character who has appeared in the background was Black Panther, until now due to his role in the Marvel movies and his resurgence in the comic books. Black Panther began to gain more popularity amongst comic book fans again when the Captain America movie was released because he was briefly referred to, and as well in other Marvel films. A reason of importance for the Black Panther character is that his country holds the reserve of vibranium, which is the material that Captain America’s shield is made of. I am very intrigued to see how the character will be incorporated into this Marvel universe.
    An aspect of this article that I found interesting was the emphasis on the race of the writer for the Black Panther series. This even became an issue for Marvel when choosing a director for the upcoming Black Panther film. I can understand how many people believe an African American should be in charge of the story, but I think people are losing sight of the overall picture and importance. Race and offending people have taken precedence over other important elements in this case and our society. Shouldn’t the story and overall message take precedence, if anything? As long as it is a good story and it is done well, does it really matter who is behind it. For instance, an African American could write this story and direct the film, but the quality may suffer because that person is not as accomplished as others in his or her field. The reason that the quality may suffer is solely based on that individual’s abilities, not his or her race or ethnicity. Support of this claim are the creators of this character – Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Neither of the Black Panther’s creators were of African descent, but were still able to create a powerful and dynamic character.
    In order to fully accomplish the goal of putting the story and message first, authenticity is key. As a result, a person who is knowledgeable about the African culture should be hired in this case. Whether this person is hired as the director or a consultant, this will allow for optimal quality and success in the goal of authenticity. Ultimately, I have all the faith that Marvel is taking the necessary steps to ensure the success of this movie. They have yet to fail in this area because all of their movies have been box office hits and the comic books have continued to satisfy readers of all kinds.
    To relate this on a separate level, let’s look at this as a group project in class. If one student was more experienced than the others at a certain element, such as creating a power point presentation and another sutdent, who has less experience but has the support of a friend of his in the group, wants to do the power point presentation. Shouldn’t the student with the most experience do the power point presentation, so the group could receive the best grade? The proper person for task would accomplish it with ease and efficiency.
    Society has put a great deal of emphasis on the race of the people developing the Black Panther comic book and movie. I believe that more emphasis should be put on the person’s ability rather than his or her race or ethnicity. By doing so, the best version of that product will be produced. If we were to worry less about offending others, and rather just respected everyone equally, more could be accomplished and productivity would increase.

  10. Adara Gonzalez February 3, 2017 at 8:34 pm #

    This article could not bring me more joy! I have been on the edge of my seat for what now feels like ages, but in actuality it has only been a few months since the announcement. The Black Panther movie is set to be released next year, yes 2018. Which technically means, that technically the rest of the world and I will have to wait almost two years for a movie that Marvel can either make it or break it for fans across the globe and fans who represent themselves under the minority Marvel seems to constantly overlook in their cinematic universe.
    I am so glad that the article enlightened the importance of Black Panther’s debut in Captain America: Civil War. I was raised on Marvel comics; I looked forward to Saturdays in order to hunt down what might be valuable Marvel collectibles in garage sales with my dad. Every Marvel advancement towards representing minorities is what would bring a smile to my face. When I heard of Marvel finally deciding to represent Black Panther on the big screen, my best friend and I could not contain our excitement.
    Although, many may advise to me not to get too excited, this could either be a huge hit or miss for Marvel and their continuation of the Cinematic Universe. In all three stages of the cinematic universe, there has not been a film dedicated a hero representing the minority. When Ant-Man came out, my dad was incredibly stoked; he grew up with the Ant-Man comics and he had big hopes. I, on the other hand, was very suspicious, I did not want to be let down, but I was incredibly wrong! When the film introduced Michael Peña as the stereotypical Mexican guy, my father and I could not help but die of laughter. It was not until after the film, a week later or so, that we realized how racist the small representation was.
    Based on that representation of a minority group, I was fearful of T’Challa’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War. But once again, Marvel didn’t let me down. T’Challa was all of the grace and power he constantly exerted in the comics beforehand. I am glad to read about the history behind the leading authors of the great African prince’s story. It is great to say that the way they have successfully rewritten the Black Panther comics will be followed through with the cinema portion of the hero’s story.
    Successful black men, from directors to actors, will head the Black Panther film set to be released in 2018. Just the same as the successful Black men chosen to bring forth the rebirth of Black Panther into Marvel Comics. I hope that just as great of a successful comeback story the comics had, will be replicated with the film and Marvel’s representation of minority. Marvel has also recently made Iron Man, a black teenage girl, who knows; hopefully soon enough we might get a film surrounding her story as well.

  11. Julia Garlock March 27, 2020 at 8:54 pm #

    As a huge fan of marvel I was very excited to see the Black Panther movie when it was being advertised for the coming months before it was released. In my family marvel was like a family tradition to us. Everytime a new movie would come out all twelve of us would stake out and wait to see the premires together. This created a special bond for us and now we will cherish the marvel movies forever. The Black Panther movie was very exciting for every marvel fan and person of color because of its cultural ties and its meaning in affiliation with the black panther party. The Black Panther movie was very exciting for every marvel fan and person of color because of its cultural ties and its meaning in affiliation with the black panther party. The movie is based around wakanda and the leader of that tribe and his spiritual gifts which gave him superpowers making him the black panther.The movie is based around wakanda and the leader of that tribe and his spiritual gifts which gave him superpowers making him the black panther. However after reading this article it seems to cloud up the success and excitement of marvel having released a film based in black history and culture because the writers of this film turned out to be white. This sparked a huge controversy between those who were still in celebration of this film and those who were beginning to disapprove of the film due to the people behind the scenes of the film. A lot of people would argue that it is just a comic and it should be celebrated that Marverl would join in the celebration of that culture by producing this movie. However, on the other hand a lot of people would also argue that the issue with this is that a white person cannot fully represent accurately and culturally a movie on a culture that they are not a part of and cannot fully connect to. However, on the other hand a lot of people would also argue that the issue with this is that a white person cannot fully represent accurately and culturally a movie on a culture that they are not a part of and cannot fully connect to. This controversy is very important to look into because there are two sides to the argument that both have very valid points. However after the release of the film a lot of people apart of the black community feel that the Black Panther film was a very good representationally and that those who did give a chance and watched celebrated in that special moment for their culture. This controversy is very important to look into because there are two sides to the argument that both have very valid points.

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