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PS Picks: Black Panther's Hollywood Breakout

PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.
Black Panther.

Black Panther.

The comic-book hero Black Panther was the first of his kind when he was introduced in 1966, when white superheroes reigned supreme. The first black superhero in mainstream comics, Black Panther—whose alter ego is an African king named T'Challa—appeared intermittently in an eponymous series and as a guest star in other series for his first 50 years. In 2016, however, Black Panther suddenly became a breakout star for Marvel: After the hero appeared in the film Captain America: Civil War, Marvel issued a multi-part Black Panther series, A Nation Under Our Feet, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This year, T'Challa has a starring role in the film Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler and in theaters this February.

Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, and Lupita Nyong'o, the film has become one of the most anticipated releases of 2018. Its original teaser trailer racked up 89 million views in 24 hours. After footage of the film received a standing ovation at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con, Coogler offered one idea why it had become so popular. Talking about scoring the footage with a 2017 Kendrick Lamar song, Coogler said, "I think a lot of the cultural things we're dealing with in Wakanda [T'Challa's home country] are in the zeitgeist in the African-American community."

A version of this story originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Pacific Standard. Subscribe now and get eight issues/year or purchase a single copy of the magazine.