Member-supported news for Southern California
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Support for KPCC comes from:

'Black Panther' is a cultural phenomenon even before it opens

Ways to Subscribe

Fans have been waiting a long time for a movie, which could gross more than $165 million over the long holiday weekend.

Marvel’s “Black Panther” movie opens on Feb. 15, riding into sold-out theaters on a wave of positive reviews and a storm of think pieces.

It could gross more than $165 million over the long President's Day weekend, but a lot of people still don’t know much about the title character.

Here’s a little background on the story: Black Panther, AKA T’Challa, is the king of Wakanda, a secret African nation in the Marvel universe that safeguards a precious material called Vibranium — the secret to Black Panther's bulletproof outfit.

To learn more about Black Panther, The Frame spoke with

. He’s been a huge fan of the comic since he was five years old. He now covers race, ethnicity and demographics for the Associated Press.

Black Panther first appeared in 1966 as a comic book written by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Director Ryan Coogler, Holland says, takes the story of Black Panther one step further.

He took that origin and he adapted it for the screen. And he included parts that also came from writers like Christopher Priest and Reginald Hudlin. So what you see on the screen is not the classic origin from the comic book. It's that origin that's updated for movies and for the modern world. While it doesn't follow exactly word-for-word what the comic book did, anybody who's ever read anything about the Black Panther will be able to recognize the character.

Audiences will also notice how Coogler's storyline highlights Wakanda's matriarchy.

The Black Panther has a very strong storyline about the power of women, as well as the power of the main character. His little sister, Shuri, is his technological advisor. Some of the most powerful people in the movie are his bodyguards. So that makes it into a film that I would be happy for my daughter to see because the women are not in the film to be rescued, they're fighting right alongside the men.

Jesse J. Holland's new book is "Black Panther: Who is the Black Panther?"  

Stay Connected