Black Panther left its mark on our hearts, but it also left its mark on the internet. From a GoFundMe for the world to the #MbakuChallenge, Black Panther is bringing back hope and happiness to the internet.
The release of Black Panther has marked history in many ways. Not only is it the third most successful Marvel movie at all time, breaking records for both its first and second weekend , but there’s finally incontrovertible evidence that a film with a cast comprised almost entirely by people of color can become a blockbuster — and an amazing, game changing blockbuster at that.
With all its success, Black Panther’s T’Challa might find himself at the forefront of the MCU as Marvel’s new fan favorite, and children all around the world have been able to experience seeing a superhero that looks like them take the screen and inspire the world.
Things have been changed for the better, and there’s evidence of that everywhere. Less than a month out from the movie’s release, there’s already plenty of evidence on the place with the greatest fan concentration of all: the internet. Here are some of the first ways in which Black Panther is visibly making its mark:
A GoFundMe campaign for the world
The Black Panther Challenge was born when Fredrick Joseph started a GoFundMe to take as many Harlem children as possible to see Black Panther. When he raised more than $40,000, he expanded the movement to the whole world under the hashtag #BlackPantherChallenge.
Others began GoFundMes for the children of their own communities, until there were over 500 campaigns and over $775,000 were raised. When the movie was released, Twitter became full of pictures of kids from various backgrounds sitting in theatres excitedly. And the movement continues. Joseph’s goal is to get as many children to see Black Panther as possible.
With a culture so focused on going to the movies, it’s easy to forget that many children’s families simply can’t afford to take them to theatres, no matter how important the occasion. And in many cases, it’s these kids who need to see stories like T’Challa’s take the screen: stories about a noble, kind, and powerful man who grows and changes things for his country — and in many cases, looks like them. The Black Panther Challenge has given these children a chance to see something they may not have even known they needed.
New opportunities for female cosplayers of color
Cosplaying has always been a big part of fandom, and a lot of the craft lives on the internet. For female cosplayers of color, it’s always been difficult to find characters that they look like to cosplay. Taking into consideration the routine harassment to female cosplayers and harassment to cosplayers of color, and it’s really a difficult outlook.
While Black Panther hasn’t changed everything, it’s a start: we have Nakia, Okoye and Shuri — all very different characters with very different personalities; all strong, Black, female characters. And who wouldn’t want to cosplay as them?
Finally, we’re seeing more variety of characters whose race and culture are celebrated through their clothing, their weapons and their personality. We’re already seeing some great costumes on social media, but we’ll have to wait until the big cons to see just how many Okoye’s are going to be showing off their armor and spears.
The M’baku Challenge
Something unusual happened on Twitter in the last week. It might have been just one talented guy that set it off, but it became a meme. And it’s a great meme. It’s… actually, just see for yourself:
WAKANDA FOREVER ??♂️ pic.twitter.com/7SRnjizbKH
— Michael (@Crossl4c) February 27, 2018
— Mak Ali (@WayTooLoose) February 26, 2018
— HAM (@SirrHamilton) March 1, 2018
How did they manage to imitate his voice so well? How did they memorize the entirety of that scene’s dialogue? Did they just go to see Black Panther many, many times? Why am I so entertained watching a bunch of different people recite the same lines?
Literally everything about Shuri
More than anyone else in Black Panther, Shuri has been a goldmine of witty remarks and gestures that are sure to be replicated for years to come through gifs and memes.
There’s something for every occasion. Whether it’s exclaiming “Great! Another broken white boy for us to fix!”, or “Don’t scare me like that, colonizer!”, or looking at her brother’s shoes and saying a scandalized “What are those?”, or even just giving T’Challa the finger, everything she does will be immortalized as reactions for social media.
Shuri has made the internet a better place just by existing, which I suppose is in character for someone as knowledgeable about technology and good humor as she is.
After so much despair, some hope
Let’s face it: it’s been a tough couple of years to be on the internet. Social media is almost oversaturated with bad news and people arguing about bad news, and it’s very easy to lose hope in humanity when we’re seeing the worst of it on display for hours on end.
But even though Black Panther is just a movie, it’s evidence that there’s a lot worth celebrating about the age we live in. Not only are we starting to see more diverse stories take the screen, but we’re seeing the world embrace them. We’re seeing new cultures put in the spotlight; and with them, new, positive values that can inform the choices we have to make in difficult times.
(And of course, we’re getting great memes!)