By Ryan Velez
By all accounts, Black Panther has all the signs of a massive hit. Excellent reviews, breaking records for pre-release tickets, and a fantastic soundtrack, just to name a few. However, Complex reports that a Change.org petition is trying to turn this movie’s success into Black success.
The petition asks the question of “what exactly will the black community gain, aside from another symbolic victory?” The petition asks for Marvel to invest 25 percent of its worldwide profit in Black communities and “programs within these communities that focus on S.T.E.M” educational programs.
To put this in perspective, Black Panther is expected to break $120 million at the domestic box office, so 25% is no small sum to give away. Chaz Gormley, author of the petition, has some well-defined reasoning, though.
“as marginalized groups have become more vocal, corporations and their savvy public relations departments have turned to catering to these groups—to turn a profit— and [Black Panther] is no different.” Gormley cites a “ clever, well-manufactured marketing campaign Marvel Studios and their parent company The Walt Disney Company” that has specifically (and successfully) targeted the black community with advertisements. For starters, the movie is slated to be released in February, also known as Black History Month. Secondly, Gormley notes that Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” “which speaks to a larger issue of the monetization of ‘wokeness,’” played in the background of an initial Black Panther trailer. Gormley finds that using these two elements “as merely marketing ploys” is “insulting.”
He continues to explain that “as black communities across the United States continue to grapple with issues such as gentrification, police brutality, and substandard living conditions,” the community must ask more of the “conglomerates” that use black culture to profit.
“You have the ability to not only be entertained but to leave the theater in February knowing that a portion of your money will be coming back into your community,” Gormley concludes. Nice as it is, Marvel and its parent company, Disney, have little reason to listen to this petition or follow through with it. Black Panther will likely be a lot of fun, but if you plan on looking for any other benefits from that, chances are that representation is probably going to be the big one. In terms of money, the movie has brought in nearly $90 million to the Georgia economy, where it was filmed. Perhaps that’s a reasonable consolation prize.