At the premiere for the hotly anticipated film Black Panther, star Chadwick Boseman told reporters, “It’s not just a movie.” He’s right. It’s an exciting blockbuster, sure, but the story of superhero T’Challa and the African nation of Wakanda is also a celebration of Africa and its rich history and culture.
We knew Black Panther was going to be different but it was made abundantly clear just how different at the premiere. Guests were told “royal attire requested” and the cast and other attendees definitely delivered. This event’s purple carpet put all other red carpets to shame, full of beautiful color and texture, fully embracing African culture and especially giving a respectful nod toward African royalty traditions.
Ruth E. Carter, the film’s costume designer, spoke about the dress code, saying: “How best to get the party started than to, on premiere night, have the cast, have the crew, have the directors and everybody participate in this explosion of patterns and African prints? Everyone can join in the fun!“ Some highlights include Boseman’s silk black and gold blazer, Lupita Nyong’o’s stunning purple gown with gold harness, Janelle Monae’s tribal choker and crown-like traditional black kufi cap, Daniel Kaluuya’s Ugandan kanzu, David Oyelowo’s dashiki, and Janeshia Adams-Ginyard’s bold and colorful ensemble. The Cut sums up the night by saying that the premiere “made the red carpet fun again.”
In addition to the purple carpet fashion, the film itself really highlights African royalty traditions and celebrates some of this rich history. The cast certainly hopes that the film will change how much of the audience views Africa. “Hopefully it changes the general idea of what being an African is. Too often times we see Africa as a place that is wanting and here it’s a place that you want to go,” Lupita Nyong’o told reporters.
In highlighting and celebrating African culture, The Guardian says that Black Panther is “both a celebration of blackness and perfectly timed political commentary.” That it comes so shortly after POTUS reportedly made derogatory comments about African countries only highlights this. South African actor John Kani, who plays King T’Chaka in the film, responded to Trump’s comments by telling EW, “We’re the greatest kingdoms of the world. I am a descendant of great kingdoms.” He also described the President’s comments as displaying “extreme ignorance.” Though the film tells the story of a fictional African nation, it is without question celebrating the rich history and culture found throughout the continent. Florence Kasumba, who plays Ayo, hopes that in watching the movie “people will get a different idea” about Africa.