Black Panther Helps Marvel Bridge The Diversity Gap

Hollywood has a diversity problem, and according to Variety, that lack of diversity is costing Hollywood billions of dollars. Black Panther helped bridge that diversity gap in Captain America: Civil War and will do even more in the upcoming Black Panther movie.

In Captain America: Civil War, there are three African-American actors portraying superheroes. Chadwick Boseman played Black Panther (King T’Challa of Wakanda). Anthony Mackie played the Falcon (Sam Wilson). Don Cheadle reprised his role as War Machine (Lt. Col. James Rhodes). Unfortunately, due to a typo in the credits, Cheadle was listed as Lieutenant Rhodes rather than Lieutenant Colonel Rhodes. Captain America: Civil War also featured South African actor John Kani as King T’Chaka of Wakanda, Ugandan-born German actress Florence Kasumba as the Wakandan security chief who dared to face off with Black Widow, and award-winning African-American actress Alfre Woodard as Miriam Sharpe.

Black Panther will have a standalone movie, which is currently scheduled to be released February 16, 2018. Marvel has already announced that 90 percent of the actors in Black Panther will be African or African-American.

Michael B. Jordan will be in the new Black Panther movie, although it has not yet been announced what role he will play. Rumors claim he may be a villain, but that has not been confirmed. Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o is in negotiations for a role in Black Panther, possibly as African-American singer Monica Lynne.

One actress many fans are hoping to see more of in the Black Panther movie is Florence Kasumba. She played the unnamed Wakandan security chief in Captain America: Civil War, and although she only had a brief moment in the movie, that moment was unforgettable. Tech Insider has suggested that the security chief is probably one of the Dora Milaje, an elite all-female bodyguard for the King of Wakanda. The Dora Milaje are based on the N’Nonmiton or ahosi female soldiers in Benin in the 17th to 19th centuries.

Marvel, like most Hollywood studios, has a diversity problem, as Hypable pointed out. They’re trying to improve, and during the kerfuffle over whitewashing the Ancient One in the upcoming Doctor Strange from a Tibetan man to a white woman, Marvel issued the following statement.

“Marvel has a very strong record of diversity in its casting of films and regularly departs from stereotypes and source material to bring its MCU to life.”

Two recent studies pointed out what movie audiences have been complaining about but many Hollywood executives are ignoring. According to a study issued by the Ralph J.Bunche Center of African American Studies at UCLA, “2016 Hollywood Diversity Report: Business as Usual,” films and television shows with casts that reflect the United States of America’s racial and ethnic diversity earn higher box office ticket sales and show higher numbers. As of 2014, the U.S. is roughly 40 percent minority; by 2043, it is predicted that minorities will be the majority. People of color (POC) make up more than 40 percent of movie audiences, especially frequent movie goers.

Related Inquisitr articles:

‘Captain America: Civil War’ Dominates Box Office; Black Panther Steals the Show

Scarlett Johansson Goes from Avenger to Manga to Zelda

White Actor Cast as Iron Fist

Danny Woodburn Challenges Hollywood Over Inclusion and Diversity

The Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity, a study released by Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, reported that “only 28.3% of all speaking characters across 414 films, television and digital episodes in 2014-15 were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. This is 9.6% below the U.S. population norm of 37.9%. One-third (33.5%) of speaking characters were female. Behind the camera, a mere 15.2% of all directors and 28.9% of writers across film and every episode of television and digital series were female. Less than one-quarter (22.6%) of series creators were women across broadcast, cable and streaming content.”

As the Inquisitr reported previously, the statistics are even worse for actors with physical disabilities. Danny Woodburn, an actor, director, and civil rights activist, accused Hollywood of ignoring one-fifth of the American population and challenged the studios to improve.

Can the Black Panther movie, due in theaters February 16, 2018, make up for years of a lack of diversity? Is having two African-American superheroes (Falcon, War Machine) and one African superhero (Black Panther) in Captain America: Civil War a sign of progress or a case of too little, too late?

[Image via Marvel Studios]

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