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 not only as 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.