Afrofuturism in Black Panther

This week's review takes an intersectional approach to the film Black Panther, unpacking Blackness in US culture and the global diaspora.

Afrofuturism in Black Panther: Gender, Identity, and the Re-Making of Blackness

ed. by Renée T. White and Karen A. Ritzenhoff Lexington Books, 2021
382p bibl index, 9781793623577 $125.00, 9781793623584 $50.00

Afrofuturism in Black Panther: Gender, Identity, and the Re-Making of Blackness book cover. Image of person in black panther mask standing in front of green leaves.

Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther (2018) is not only a billion-dollar superhero film but also a profound examination of Black life in the global diaspora. Given this, a collection of essays on the film was inevitable. The essays White (The New School) and Ritzenhoff (Central Connecticut State Univ.) gathered are not only impressive but also surpass expectations in considering Black Panther and its importance to new conceptions of Blackness in US culture. The essays survey a wide range of topics, connecting Coogler’s film to such subjects as neoliberalism, Black lesbianism, Afrofuturism, action aesthetics, Black manhood, colonialism, and the cosmopolitan. What binds the essays together, however, is the commitment to exploring the film in its historical and cinematic contexts, tying it to films such as Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman and Peter Farrelly’s The Green Book (both also 2018) but also paying close attention to cinematic production and industry issues. The essays gathered in this collection speak to one another fluently despite their wide variety of topics, making the collection cohere in insightful ways. This collection is required reading for anyone seeking to understand the enduring importance of Black Panther to understanding Blackness in US culture.

Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.
Reviewer: D. E. Magill, Longwood University
Interdisciplinary Subject: African and African American Studies
Subject: Humanities – Performing Arts – Film
Choice Issue: Jul 2022

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