Interrogating a Cultural Phenomenon
The first in-depth study of one of Marvel’s most successful and culturally impactful films
Black Panther is one of the most financially successful and culturally impactful films to emerge from the American film industry in recent years. When it was released in 2018 it broke numerous records and resonated with audiences all around the world in ways that transcended the dimensions of the superhero film. In Black Panther: Interrogating a Cultural Phenomenon, author Terence McSweeney explores the film from a diverse range of perspectives, seeing it as not only a comic book adaptation and a superhero film, but also a dynamic contribution to the discourse of both African and African American studies.
McSweeney argues that Black Panther is one of the defining American films of the last decade and the most remarkable title in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2008–). The MCU has become the largest film franchise in the history of the medium and has even shaped the contours of the contemporary blockbuster, but the narratives within it have almost exclusively perpetuated largely unambiguous fantasies of American heroism and exceptionalism. In contrast, Black Panther complicates this by engaging in an entirely different mythos in its portrayal of an African nation—never colonized by Europe—as the most powerful and technologically advanced in the world. McSweeney charts how and why Black Panther became a cultural phenomenon and also a battleground on which a war of meaning was waged at a very particular time in American history.
"This study signals a careful consideration of a significant cultural moment and happily delivers from the opening pages. For fans of Marvel’s Black Panther, this book provides a detailed review of the volumes written about the film. Those concerned with the cultural meaning of that groundbreaking movie will find an insightful consideration of how and why it has engaged audiences worldwide. While we are quick to dismiss superhero blockbusters, McSweeney provides a framework to understand how this film transcends expectations by engaging with more profound arguments represented by Black Panther. If you are looking for a clear picture of why Black Panther was and continues to be so central to popular imagination, this book is for you. "- Julian C. Chambliss, coeditor of Assembling the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Essays on the Social, Cultural and Geopolitical Domains