I’m old enough to remember the very first incarnation of the comic book Black Panther. I don’t actually remember his very first appearances in the Fantastic Four (where he was a minor recurring character) but then in 1968 or so he joined the Avengers (which I do vividly remember since it was one of my favorite comics at the time).
The Black Panther wasn’t the first Black superhero but I’m pretty sure his run in the Avengers made him the first to have a regular gig in a mainstream comic. One thing I remember at the time is that his mask was redesigned for his Avengers membership. The full face mask was gone and the bottom half was cut out so that readers could tell he was black. Fan reaction (mostly positive to him joining the Avengers) was negative about the mask and after a few issues it went back to covering his whole face. Despite his initial breakthrough he was never the most important character at Marvel (or even in the Avengers, that would have been the Vision) and before long he was overshadowed by more American Black characters like Luke Cage (or even the Falcon). His whole shtick of a super-advanced remote African kingdom seemed like a throwback to the Phantom.
Fast forward almost 50 years and suddenly he’s the biggest thing EVER! I don’t get it, I’ll probably get around to seeing the movie and I probably enjoy it (though movies still seem like the wrong vehicle for Superheroes which tend to lose steam after their origin story). What I don’t get is why people are attaching all this political or symbolic cultural importance to a story that AFAICT literally has nothing to do with African Americans… (even in terms of African ancestry since Wakanda is supposed to be someshere in East Africa IINM and most American Blacks African ancestry is far Western Africa which is as different from the East as Turkey is from Norway…
Superheroes can be an appealing fantasy but they don’t stand much realism and I don’t think they can stand much… political investment either. All the fuss about Wakanda seems almost to be a surrender to the idea that the overall state of African Americans (or Africa) cannot be improved in real life so let’s jam out to fun fantasies.
That doesn’t seem healthy.