Black Panther is first Black Superhero Film By Black Director with Predominantly Black Cast, truth?

Couldn’t fit the entire title but my question is two parts

  1. Is that really true?

  2. What came before it to cause it to have to such a specific designation?

Basically the title quote is what I’m hearing in all the marketing and news stories regarding the film singling it out for such an accolade. However it seems rather unwieldy and actually rather false.

The film Meteor Man has all three of those things and despite being a box office bomb and I’m wondering what news and pop culture places seem to be forgetting it. In addition while Blade was the first Marvel Superhero Movie starring a black Superhero I’m wondering what movies actually came before that and if there were any movies before Meteor Man that had both black directors and majority black casts.

According to this site, there’ve been 5 black superhero movies before Black Panther.
Meteor Man is about the only one that looks like it meets your last criteria, in which the director and the majority of the major cast is black. I don’t know why it’s not being referenced now, but it’s entirely possible it’s been forgotten, or is being politely ignored as a stinker. (I won’t comment on its quality, as I’ve not seen it)
Blade had a white director, and of the and of the five stars listed on the wiki page, three were white. (I’m assuming they’re in credited order).
I’m not familiar with the others at all, I’m afraid. It looks like they were all pretty bad, though.
That first site left off Catwoman, but again, it had a white director.
As far as I can tell and remember, there were none before Meteor Man

Honourable metion - Luke Cage on Netflix. Majority black cast, but some of the directors were white, and it was not a movie.

I honestly quite liked Blankman when I was a kid. But i see the director was white.

Is Meteor Man a superhero film or a superhero themed comedy?

Moderator Action

Moving thread from GQ to Cafe Society.

I wouldn’t sweat it. It’s just Marketing speak for “New and Improved!!” with the specific desire to brand the movie as innovative in some way regarding Black positivity. Marketers will do a very similar thing with Ava DuVernay’s Wrinkle in Time because this approach is working right now.

Now, is BP “worthy” of being branded as innovative regarding a its Black-forwardness? IMHO, hell yes! That’s why the hype has gained traction and the movie has done so well - in a fundamental way, its branding aligns with the movie itself. Does that mean any of the claims are based on some hard fact? Nah.

ETA: what I do think is factually New about BP is that it is the first time a studio with a huge franchise positioned a Black-forward movie as one of its central tentpole movies. Black superhero movies exist, but not ones with the Almighty MCU Juggernaut behind them.

So, Disney: when is Lando Calrissian gonna get his??

Meteor Man was the first thing that came to mind to me as a possibility (I sisn’t remember about the black director, though.) I always stop to watch it when I’m flipping channels, but it isn’t what one would call high=quality cinema. (It is sort of a comedy, I suppose, but it seems to take itself more seriously than might be merited.)

I always thought of Meteor Man and *Blankman *as comedies, not “superhero films” per se. Blade is proper superhero stuff, but doesn’t meet the OP’s full criteria. And I don’t even want to know what that Shaquille O’Neal thing was.

And do we really want a Lando-focused film? It just wouldn’t be the same without a young(er) Billy Dee Williams playing the lead.

There’s a movie called Abar, The First Black Superman… it meets the criteria, but it is also a Blaxploitation film from 1977.

That said, Black Panther also feels like a Blaxploitation film, from 2018… so potato-potahto?

Pootie Tang blurs the lines between superhero and farcical comedy, but he’s still cooler than the Punisher as far as I’m concerned, and he’s not incompetent and he’s not hokey (a la Meteor Man) so I’ll throw it out there, but take that with a grain of salt I guess. But I take Pootie Tang more seriously than Wolverine: Origins or Man Of Steel, so for me it’s a moot point.

I’m willing to wait for Solo to come out and see how Donald Glover handles the role before I dismiss the idea. Glover has impressed me before.

Dr. Hackenbush, how are you defining “blaxploitation” in a way that would include Black Panther?

I wonder why Hancock only got an Honorable Mention in that article for black superheroes? It’s the first thing I thought of, having been both relatively recent and a massive box-office hit.

Personally, once The Incredibles 2 is out (and hopefully a success), I’d like to see Frozone get his own spinoff! :slight_smile: Samuel L. Jackson feels like a superhero in just about everything he plays. His power is Being Awesome.

Well it’s a nuanced and sensitive issue. So I’ll link to this 5min vid Melanated News before I say anything else…

but it mostly has to do with “who is the target market?” and “where is the money going?”

There was an article I read aaaaaaaages ago about how the Black Panther comic was basically an exploitation comic in the vein of Marvel’s All-Negro Comics #1 from the 1940s. The article is now impossible for me to find on google thanks to all the promo for the movie, but the gist was that post Rev. Dr Martin Luther King jr, Stan Lee got the bright idea to cash in on the civil rights dollar by making a character called Black Panther. Likewise in the article there was reference to various politically active black folks in the 60s and 70s who had mixed feelings about the character to begin with. The main concerns were along the lines of “why is he a rich African king from a fictional African nation and not some poor kid from southside Chicago? Spider-Man is a poor white kid from Queens…”, “how come his super power is Voodoo?” as well as “It’s neat to have a black superhero to show the kids, but when you spend that dollar, how many African Americans are getting a slice of that buck?”

And that’s the main thing blaxploitation boils down to anyway (siphoning money out of the black community); what we have with this movie is a film with a lotta racial stereotypes going on, geared towards a black audience who are super enthused because it’s pandering to the “average consumer” segment of the black community (the Riley Freemans) rather than the “progressive thinker” segment of the black community (the Huey Freemans), and meanwhile way behind the scenes there’s a bunch of already rich white guys rubbing their hands together and waiting for the money to roll in. Also since it’s a superhero movie, the likelihood of it being good is minimal. So the argument kinda stacks up and you’re basically left with textbook blaxploitation. Even the fact that nobody is hyping the story but rather “The first black superhero movie with an all black cast and black this and black that and black director and it’s called black panther” you can really tell whose money the corporates at Marvel are going after. Maybe I’m just a huge cynic but I agree with Melanated News on this one.

I don’t want to spoil the movie, but there’s a technicality on the definition of superhero that may be the sticking point.

I dunno, everyone I’ve heard talk about it (who saw it) said it’s awesome. Not in a “Because black” way but in a “Great superhero movie” way.

Huh. Rats, I saw it last year (I’m, um, a little behind on my pop culture consumption!) but don’t remember the technicality you might be referring to. I know I enjoyed it quite a lot, especially Will Smith’s performance, but that’s pretty much it.

(Truth is, I saw it in very close proximity to Unbreakable, Limitless and Edge of Tomorrow, and they’re all sorta blending together. I do recall that they all surprised me by being much better than I expected.)

Sorry, this is off-topic.

It’s good you qualified that. Man makes an awesome supervillain.

I consider the quintessential aspect of blaxsploitation to be the stereotypes, and I’d argue the modern version are the Madea movies. Granted, I have not seen Black Panther yet, but everything I’m hearing about is suggests it is very different from those, with well-rounded characters.

I don’t see how targeting a particular market is any form of exploitation. It’s common in for any social group. I do see how movies like Madea and the old blaxsploitations films exploit black stereotypes.

Speaking as a suburban white man, I would never refer to The Black Panther movie as “Blaxploitation”. It seems insulting and off, like I could also refer to Moonlight as Blaxploitation because it was made by mostly Black artists and speaking to a Black experience.

If there is a category that is more Black Forward or something, I can see using that. The movie very consciously seeks to uplift the Black experience, just like Wonder Woman sought to do the same for women. Never of them are exploitative.

So, by that standard, any movie financed by white producers and targeted to a black audience is “blaxploitation”? That sounds like a category way too broad to be useful.

And yet, most of the films usually referred to as “blaxploitation” are about poor kids from southside Chicago, or similar environments. It sounds like you just can’t win, in both the guy from the ghetto and the rich king are blaxploitation. Never mind that one of the main themes of the movie is “We ought to do something to help those poor ghettos”.