Black Panther: An Afrocentric Ethical Fable

(This article was originally published in The American Interest on February 22, 2018.)

Marvel’s latest blockbuster serves the classic function of myth—to provide a poetic account of the political ethics of a community.

Black Panther is a rarity in the over-crowded universe of superhero film: a critical and commercial success. One is tempted to compare it to last year’s Wonder Woman: Both films revitalize a tired genre dominated by white male leads by exploring the possibilities of a diversity of protagonists. But neither film is an easy, politically correct exercise; both succeed, first and foremost, as popular entertainment in which social and ideological themes are subordinate to plot, character development and, of course, loud action.