Disney sets the bar for representation
Studio giant crushes stereotypes
This year is expected to be a big one for Disney with the release of ten new films across many genres. Perhaps one of the most anticipated movies of the year is Black Panther. The film’s trailer not only had 89 million views within 24 hours following its release, but has also broken the record as the best-selling Marvel Cinematic Universe movie in terms of pre-sales after the first 24 hours. And this doesn’t come as a surprise.
Additionally, viewers are anticipating Disney’s adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s book, A Wrinkle in Time. The film reminds audiences of the power of female representation in film. What is anticipated to be a blockbuster hit, female director Ava DuVernay (of Selma fame) reimagines the cult classic through her eyes.
Apart from seeing a beloved superhero character coming to life in an action-packed film, Black Panther provides the African American representation that is absent from most Marvel films. Last year’s release of Wonder Woman—which was a hit in itself—displayed female representation like no other. The highly acclaimed movie received numerous reviews from women who were overwhelmed by the powerful displays of symbolism. They saw themselves as heroes, triumphant in their own story. For Black Panther, this kind of representation is just the beginning.
In Hollywood, African American men are often portrayed in a negative light. They are stereotypes displaying men in the black community as either criminal or uneducated, and most live in the ghetto; this time around, audiences are shown men who are regal, brilliant, and gorgeous.
Behind the scenes are a plethora of critically acclaimed African American actors and actresses who represent the black community and the culture combined.
A movie is just as good as its soundtrack, and Black Panther is getting new originals from rapper Kendrick Lamar. His song “DNA” was featured at San Diego Comic Con during the release of the trailer, and he has teased two songs on the soundtrack titled, “All of the Stars,” featuring SZA and “King’s Dead,” featuring Jay Rock, Future, and James Blake. Black Panther is a milestone for black representation in film. It allows people within the African American community to see themselves being celebrated in a world which has done nothing but try to tear them down. And this film isn’t the only one breaking barriers in representation.
Director Ava DuVernay has already made an impact in the movie industry. Even before the release of A Wrinkle in Time, DuVernay has become the first black female director of a $100 million film. As she leads a star-studded cast of women including Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling, DuVernay looks for other ways to deconstruct societal constructs to more accurately represent diverse groups of people. DuVernay said she envisioned a woman of color playing the lead role of Meg, stating, “It means everything to be a girl of color and play Meg.” Through her casting of Storm Reid to play this lead role, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what DuVernay has in store for the whimsical story’s multidimensional cast.
Both Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time are reshaping and reimagining the world of fairy tales. By redefining the meaning of female and minority representation in Hollywood, these films are showing audiences the world through a more honest and genuine lens. ·