By Aaron Earls
Black Panther, the latest Marvel superhero movie, conquered villains and box office records.
The film had the fifth largest three-day domestic opening ever with an estimated $192 million haul. That total would be the largest opening ever in February, the largest opening for an African-American director, and the second largest opening among Marvel movies, behind only The Avengers in 2012.
With a predominantly black cast and crew, Black Panther drew a diverse audience. A moviegoer survey by comScore found viewers were 37 percent African-American, 35 percent white, 18 percent Hispanic, 5 percent Asian, and 5 percent other ethnicities.
In the film, Chadwick Boseman stars as T’Challa/Black Panther. As the king of the fictional African country Wakanda, T’Challa wrestles with the legacy of his father, his nation’s responsibilities to the rest of the world, and a usurper to his newly established throne.
Why this matters to the church: In a moment when culture is struggling with issues of race, Black Panther provides heretofore unrealized representation for African-Americans in a big superhero blockbuster film.
As evangelicals are coming to grips with ethnic divisions, the film can provide opportunities for dialogue and a chance for white evangelicals to listen to African-American evangelicals about why Black Panther resonates with them.
— Thabiti Anyabwile (@ThabitiAnyabwil) February 19, 2018
It can also provide a bridge for a gospel conversation. Many African-Americans see Wakanda, the fictional African nation in Black Panther, as a place where they can find peace and prosperity.
For those who do not know Christ, this may awaken a heavenly longing in them. As C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
Resources: Lifeway has a webpage set aside for the topic of racial reconciliation with small group studies, prayer guides, videos, and more.
- What Roles Does Your Church Play in Racial Reconciliation?
- Pastors Say Churches Are Open to Racial Reconciliation Sermons
- Can the Word ‘Evangelical’ Be Saved?
- Life in the Hyphen
- Trip Lee: Churches Must Fight for Racial Reconciliation
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.