Liberation On and Off Screen: Black Panther and Black Liberation Theory

Faramelli, Anthony. 2019. Liberation On and Off Screen: Black Panther and Black Liberation Theory. Film Criticism, 43(2), ISSN 0163-5069 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

2018’s Black Panther is arguably a revolutionary film. Revolutionary as it is the first blockbuster superhero film that features a predominately black cast, allowing people of color to see themselves represented in the film’s heroes. It also places women of color in the forefront of the action, breaking down common sexist tropes within the superhero genre. Beyond those issues of representation, Black Panther recreates what is possibly the most significant and enduring debate in radical politics, the debate between resistance and revolution. Indeed, it was this debate, personified by the conflict between Huey P. Newton and Eldridge Cleaver, which terminally fractured the Black Panther Party. This article first looks at Black Panther’s use of space and setting (Oakland, California versus the fictional utopic Wakanda) in an analysis of the formation of conflictual black political identities. The article then examines how the conflict between the protagonist, the Wakandan king and Black Panther T’Challa, and the principle antagonist Eric “Killmonger” Stevens, recreates the pivotal debate, a debate that defines much of radical politics. Finally, this article uses Edward Soja’s concept of “Thirdspace” to examine the character of Nakia, arguing that she presents an alternative resistant approach to black emancipation.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


September 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

18 Nov 2022 12:36

Last Modified:

18 Nov 2022 12:46

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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