Unless you’ve been hibernating from the internet and any form of social media, you’ll know that Marvel Studios’ Black Panther is one of the most anticipated movies of the year. Beyonce’s 3 Grammy outfits were even inspired by the film.
For comic book fans, this is beyond exciting. For black audiences across the global sphere, but particularly Africa, it’s absolutely ground-breaking.
Not just because the movie features a predominantly black cast but also because we’ve often seen black and other people of colour being relegated and cast in the roles of slaves, domestic workers or the sassy black friend.
READ MORE ON CHANNEL24: Dr. John Kani talks Black Panther and its pre-box office success
I don’t deny the cultural impact of movies like The Help or 12 Years a Slave but people of colour are more than just narratives steeped in war and pain.
Of course these stories are important to tell but in terms of nuance, it doesn’t speak to or focus on other aspects of our lives, the way white-centric stories often are.
TV seems to be faring better with series like Queen Sugar, Atlanta, Scandal, Insecure, Greenleaf and a few more but cinema seems to be dragging its feet.
When Girls Trip first came out with four black women leading the cast, many were surprised by its success.
Carmen, our resident TV and movie addict was one of its biggest fans and said: “What I loved about Girls Trip is that it unashamedly showed that black women can be interesting, funny and multifaceted without turning them into stereotypes. They were all funny in their own way, but they were also human. It’s great to see a film where women of colour aren’t just the sassy friend or the maid, but multi-dimensional, fleshed out characters.”
READ MORE: The little girl inside you needs a hero too
And this is why Black Panther matters.
Here we have a story where the hero’s story isn’t simply one of fighting to be heard or to convince other people that his life matters but it’s a story that showcases black power, that shows the fictional African land of Wakanda as a nation that’s rich in advanced and innovative technology and one that portrays women in roles that are breaking barriers.
The women are a force to be reckoned with, featuring ferociously intelligent inventors, elite and physically strong bodyguards - and they are more than just romantic interests. Imagine that.
And imagine more. It reminded us that we need a whole host of other comic-book characters that need some movies of their own.
At the fore front of our list is Storm.
Yes, we know. She’s appeared in the X-men franchise before but our favourite weather-controlling warrior has an interesting back story that is worth exploring all on its own.
Orphaned at the age of six and left with severe claustrophobia after being crushed under rubble when a plane crashed into her home, Storm spent most of her early years learning how to become the perfect thief, years before her abilities emerged.
WATCH: X-Men Storm: All Power displays
Her journey is at times a painful one (she’s almost raped at one stage, nearly dies during one of her journeys and is stripped of her powers at one point) but this priestess proves resilient and her epic displays of power are all the reasons (and so much more) that we want to see a Storm movie.
Oh and interesting fact: she used to be married to T’Challa for those who are looking for that Black Panther connection.
Ms. Marvel - Kamala Khan (not to be confused with Captain Marvel)
While Brie Larson is slated to star in Captain Marvel (first pics of her in costume have actually just surfaced), her role as Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel should not be confused with Kamala Khan - Ms. Marvel, a teenaged Pakistani-American student who takes on the moniker and alter ego of Ms. Marvel (as a homage to her hero, Carol Danvers) when she develops super powers of her own.
What we really love about her story is that it explores her struggles of trying navigate daily life and tackles family relationships, faith, cultural assimilation and identity. It’s also one that’s filled with political commentary and showcases her not just as a global hero but as one that’s a hero to the everyday people in her surrounding neighbourhood.
She’s one of the very few Muslim superhero characters we’ve seen and one whose story definitely deserves more airtime. Oh and she’s got super awesome powers that allow her to morph her body into forms that are either large or small, adapting to whatever the circumstances requires of her.
Mari Jiwe McCabe – Vixen
Another character who is criminally underrated, is Mari McCabe, known as Vixen. Born in Zambesi, the African model and superhero is able to channel the power of any animal (a family-protected totem helps her to focus and channel her power).
She formed part of the Suicide Squad and Justice League of America and has a fascinating story that’s rooted in West African folklore. Growing up in a small African village, Vixen is left orphaned after her mother is killed by poachers and her father is murdered by his half-brother because he wants to get his hands on a Tantu totem.
Legend has it that the totem was created by the African trickster spirit Anansi and that anyone who wears it will be granted all the powers of the animals in the kingdom as long as their intentions are to protect and not to harm.
I don’t know about you, but her backstory alone is enough for us to want a movie. We don’t see enough mainstream movies that explores African lore and Vixen has a story that not only touches on this, but is filled with nuance and an epic showcase of badassery that would make for some epic screen time.
WATCH: The Full-length trailer for Black Panther on Channel24
Tell us about the comic superheroes you’d love to see on screen. We know there are so much more not on our list, but we’d love to hear your suggestions and we could feature it in a future follow up article.
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