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Why Black Panther has become a cult movie within Marvel?

Black Panther was released on February 16, 2018 and superhero cinema was forever changed. The Oscars, in the end, did not give him the opportunity to make history.

Black Panther has become three years after its premiere in a cult film within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He was about to achieve what they did not achieve in their day (bad that it weighs you, bad that it weighs us) Star Wars: A New Hope , nor Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back , nor Alien , nor Blade Runner , nor Encounters in the Third Phase , neither Back to the Future , nor The Dark Knight: that a fantasy fiction film won the award for Best Film in an edition of the Oscars. 

And what’s more: that a movie based on a comic did it. We had a (particular) bulletproof theory about why this superhero/science fiction movie deserved to win the prized statuette (for years we wanted to put ‘superheroes’, ‘science-fiction’, and ‘statuette’ in the same phrase). We were wrong with our prediction, but that does not mean that our theory was wrong.

We were convinced that he was not going to take it because it was a popular film (we will not go back to the debate on whether popular cinema should win statuettes and if an injustice was done with The Dark Knight and thank goodness that now there is ten candidates instead of five), which is; nor for having entered a whopping 1,344 million dollarsand have more than enough money to be able to lobby as the royalties in Hollywood command, which has won them (and, yes, it did a lobby worthy of study in business schools). 

We believed that he was going to be carried away by the story he tells: by putting on the table a way of thinking about the future with a non-Caucasian, apostolic and Roman prism, as well as by claiming non-violence in the face of racism and the threat of colonialism. And, specifically, we thought, wrongly, that it was going to win the Oscar for Best Picture because it had been able to concentrate the weight of that story in a single scene.

A scene that survived the first draft of the script, then the second, then the third, then the fourth, then was shot, and then was kept in the montage. It is a scene that condenses the message of the film. It’s an easy moral to pack.

In fact, if you think about it, it should have also won the Oscar for Best Editing. The problem is that it was not nominated in this category. Because a movie wins the Oscar for Best Picture in the editing room. Yes yes. 

Another thing is that it is nominated, but it is like this: it is important what is left in and what is left out. As it is important to let the film breathe. You can have a great story, a great acting, a great director, a smart production design, but as in editing a scene is left out, or a scene is cut too short or made too long … So far none of great science fiction movies has won an Oscar for Best Picture, it’s true. Although, beware, some of them have won the Oscar for Best Editing (and another day we are talking about the most deserved Oscar in the history of the Oscars to Marcia Lucas on April 3, 1978).

Let’s go with the scene. Killmonger’s character has just been defeated by T’Challa. He is going to die, it is inevitable. T’Challa ( Chadwick Boseman ), however, tells him, “Maybe we can still heal you . ” Killmonger ( Michael B. Jordan ) looks at him like saying WTF! and he answers: 

“Why? So that you can lock me up? Better bury me in the Ocean next to my ancestors, who jumped from the ships because they knew that death was better than slavery . 

Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole wrote this dialogue on the first draft of the Black Panther script . Coogler was convinced that Marvel Studios was going to ask him to cut this part of the scene. Too serious? Well no. The movie is about exactly that, and it needed a statement of intent. And this is that declaration of intent. Knowing how to see this from the original script and letting it survive through the entire process, including the cutting room (which is where there are always second chances for bad ideas), is what is going to win the Oscar for Best Picture. . Without these lines of dialogue there would be no Oscar:

We know all this because in the middle of the film’s promotional campaign, the boss-boss of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, escaped in an interview that he was proud that that phrase had been kept throughout the production process. We will not enter into that the mere fact of bragging about it is condescending. Although if you think about it, it also justifies taking the Oscar (yes, he still condescends to African-American activism today).

This scene condenses the message of the film: the two representations of how the threat of colonialism and racism has been responded to throughout history, without the historical whitewashing that we are used to, from an intelligent Afro-American sensibility. T’Challa and Killmonger are Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, moral defense, fighting social injustice through political activism, on the one hand, and radicalization and armed self-defense, on the other. And all this in a superhero story. But, of course, to these things (to read different stories on great topics) people who read comics were already used to it.

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