Radio Lessons #86 – Black Panther
Black Panther breaks the formula for Marvel movies. And it does it without violating expectations.
Yes, at the heart of it, it is still a superhero, action-adventure movie with wild special effects, glamorous costumes, cool explosions, good guys vs bad guys and a mandatory cameo from Stan Lee.
But this movie has morals, it has heart and is filled with a number of thought-provoking messages. Black Panther is timely in the exploration of gender roles and the salutation of female strength. There are a number of incredibly strong female characters, including the General of the Wakanda Armed Forces (she is tough as nails).
The movie also touches on the of building bridges vs building walls (sorry Trump) as the fictional African nation cloaked by forest but actually technologically ahead of the rest of the world emerges as a leader through sharing of knowledge rather than the selfish hoarding of it. And perhaps most importantly, the dominant theme is the celebration of the turning tide against the suppression of black people and black nations.
The music is unabashedly tribal and the director, writers and cast are predominantly African-American. In fact, in terms of the major characters, only two are Caucasian – Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis (they both also worked together on the Lord of The Rings movies which arguably makes them the ‘Tolkein’ white guys).
What Black Panther has is spirit. Meaning. And it gives the entire Marvel universe depth beyond the regular staple of fun.
If your station or show is one dimensional it can perform very well – but it will eventually be beaten by a competitor that has more to offer than surface entertainment.
Audiences want to be entertained, and instant gratification is vital in this busy world today. But audiences also want to feel emotionally connected and invested in their favourite personalities and brands. Depth is the key to that.