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Black Panther Cheat Sheet by

Black Panther for Media Studies A Level (WJEC Exam Board)

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Key & Terms

Bold writing indicates an importance to the inform­­­a­tion,
italics represents inform­­­ation that will likely gain you further marks but isn't necess­­­arily important inform­­­a­tion.
Supers­­­cript indicates a recap of a theory or extra/­­sp­e­cific inform­­ation on something specific.

BP - Black Panther
MCU - Marvel Cinematic Universe

Lexus x Black Panther

"­Welcome to Wakand­a"

NYFW Catwalk

Product Context

Black Panther is the 17th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the highes­t-g­rossing film franchise in history.
It was directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed) and released in February 2018.

The film shows us the fictional African kingdom of Wakanda, which has avoided European coloni­sation and achieved a techno­logical superi­ority through the use of a mineral called Vibranium.
T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) must fight a number of foes who oppose him becoming king after the death of his father.

Black Panther (T'Challa) first appeared in Fantastic Four #62, released July 1966.
The film was produced by Marvel Studios, a famous comic book brand that is also a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company.
Black Panther was extremely succes­sful, broke the records for the highest opening weekend in the USA, and also performed well globally.
The film grossed well over $1billion worldwide, with 48% in non-US countries.

It was also one of the only superhero films to be nominated for a "Best Pictur­e" Academy Award. It won three Oscars for Costume, Production Design, and Original Soundt­rack.

Media Industries


From 15th-20th century, European powers colonised African countries and exploited the continent for both resources and slave labour.
Africans were branded ‘savages’ by the European invaders, their cultures dismissed as ‘primi­tive’.

During the early 20th century, African Americans attempted to establish a new black cultural identity with movements such as the Harlem Renais­sance.

The Black Panther Party (October 1966-82) was a political activist group establ­ished initially to provide armed monitoring of police behaviour and prevent police brutality in the US.
It was contro­ver­sial, with many Panthers being arrested or killed in confro­nta­tions with police.


The science fiction blockb­uster and superhero genres have tradit­ionally been dominated by white, male charac­ters. In the 1990s, actors like Will Smith and Wesley Snipes did break ground playing black characters, but recent action films and especially superhero films have rarely featured Africa­n-A­merican actors in lead roles.

For the last 15 years, Marvel films have topped the box office. Though these regularly featured non-white charac­ters, they were often sidekicks (e.g. The Falcon in the Captain America films).
There have also been very few superhero films with a female lead (Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel being except­ions).

Black cinema has tradit­ionally consisted of issues­-based social realism (e.g. the films of Spike Lee) or have been ‘artho­use­’/’­pre­stige’ pictures (e.g. Moonlight, 2016). Blade (1998) is one of the few superhero films to have a black main character.

In 2016, the #oscar­sso­white meme drew attention to the lack of diversity in the films nominated.

US/Eur­opean news media tends to portray Africa as an under-­pri­vil­eged, developing country, focusing on civil wars, famine and terrorism.
The Victorian branding of Africa as ‘the Dark Continent’ has not evolved very far. Very few feature films from Africa reach the Western mainst­ream, and films like Blood Diamond (2006) and Captain Phillips (2013), though featuring sympat­hetic African charac­ters, still portray Africa as a dangerous and barbaric place.


Barack Obama (2009-­2017), America’s first Africa­n-A­merican president, created many initia­tives that aided minority and women’s groups: from universal health­care, to college and entrep­ren­eurship access funds for the under-­pri­vil­eged.

Donald Trump, the current president, has vowed to reverse many of these, winning support from mostly white, right wing Americans who consider such initia­tives unfair. In addition, Trump has insulted other countries (including many in Africa), and refused to condemn violent racist attacks in American cities.

Worrying statistics about the amount of unarmed ‘people of colour’ (POC) shot by US police led to the #black­liv­esm­atter campaign, which has utilised social media to raise awareness of an issue that has often been ignored by mainstream media.


Black Panther was produced by Marvel Studios, who became a subsidiary of Disney in 2008.
They are also the film's distri­butor, which makes this a good example of vertical integr­ation.

Marvel has histor­ically sold options on individual characters or comic book titles e.g. Spiderman to TV and then to Paramount (and who is still partly owned by Sony).
Black Panther was one of those owned fully by Marvel; in 2009 a new team began developing T'Challa and lesser known charac­ters.

In early 2000s, Marvel Studios began to produce films, starting with Blade (1998) and the X-Men films (2000).

When Disney bought Marvel, they agreed to minimal creative influence over Marvel products.

In 2013, Marvel also signed a deal with streaming service Netflix to develop TV series for six more characters (including Daredevil and Punisher who had already been made into films)
This may have caused conflict with Disney, who has their own streaming channel, and in 2019 Netflix cancelled their Marvel shows.

Media Industries (pt2)


Disney, the film’s distri­butor adopted a ‘360-d­egree consumer experi­ence’ to their marketing (i.e. wherever you look, there’s Black Panther!)

The concept was to make the film into a ‘cultural event’ across a variety of media and platforms and raising its profile from being ‘another superhero’ film into something more politi­cally resonant.

Black Panther’s teaser trailers were shown between NBA games and a special collab­oration with Lexus called ‘Long Live The King’ was shown during the Superbowl. What kind of audiences normally watch these progra­mmes? How are they different to the usual Marvel fanbase?

The film’s release also harnessed a political element to add gravitas. Crowd-­funding projects to buy under-­pri­vileged children a ticket won support from celebr­ities; the film was released during Black History Month; plus Coogler, the stars and the costume, hair/m­ake-up , production designers all gave detailed interviews about how the film celebrates African culture

There was also a ‘Welcome to Wakanda’ catwalk show at New York Fashion Week and features in numerous fashion magazines. (On opening weekend 44% of ticket buyers were female)

Disney are adept at identi­fying nuanced demogr­aphic groups and strategies for targeting them. Many of their products are ‘inter­cul­tural’ i.e. they strongly represent one cultural tradition but in a way that resonates with audiences from other cultural / national / ethnic backgr­ounds.

Disney has used recent Nielsen research to challenge conven­tional ideas about the ethnic diversity in mainstream America. 53% of Americans live in a multic­ultural or ‘blended’ household. 67% indicated they were enthus­iastic about encoun­tering and experi­menting with ‘diverse cultures’.


The BBFC (an indepe­ndent, non-go­ver­nmental body) classifies film and video releases in the UK. However, local councils have the power to overrule BBFC decisions and rate films differ­ently (e.g. This is England was rated 18 by the BBFC but several counties rated it at 15).

The theatrical release of Black Panther gained a 12a certif­icate.
The film, like many recent Marvel films, features very little romantic drama and no sex or nudity. It is fairly violent, but the combat is fantas­tical (hard to imitate) and there is a strong moral code to most of the conflict.
The film was classified as PG-13 in USA, and similarly in other territ­ories.


The teaser trailer was released in June 2017 by Disney's sister channel ABC, during NBA Finals. Within 24 hours it had been viewed 89 millions times on YT.
Just before release, Black Panther was the most-t­weeted about film of 2018 with more than 5 million tweet globally. In mid-March 2018, it became the most-t­weeted about film ever with 35 million tweets.


Hesmon­dhalgh - Cultural Industries
(1) the idea that cultural industry companies try to minimise risk and maximise audiences through vertical and horizontal integr­­ation, and by formatting their cultural products (e.g. through use of stars, genres and serials). (2) the idea that the largest companies or conglo­­me­rates now operate across a number of different cultural indust­­ries. (3) the idea that the radical potential of the internet has been contained to some extent by its partial incorp­­or­ation into a large, profit­­-o­r­i­en­­tated set of cultural indust­­ries.
The concept of profit in relation to the film industry and in this case specif­ically to the film franch­ises. Often films within a series can become formulaic and lack risk.
The film released as part of a synergy- with fashion, music, videog­ames, sports tie-ins, and even a car, releasing with the film.

Curran & Seaton - Media and Power
Theory recap: (1) the idea that the media is controlled by a small number of companies primarily driven by the logic of profit and power. (2) the idea that media concen­­tr­ation generally limits or inhibits variety, creativity and quality. (3) the idea that more socially diverse patterns of ownership help to create the conditions for more varied and advent­­urous media produc­­tions.
The film's celebrated diversity challenges Curran & Seaton's idea that a small number of media instit­utions limits creativity & variety.
The conglo­merate model (Marvel as a separate brand to Disney) offers a more complex pattern of ownership than Curran and Seaton describe.
The dominance of Marvel in the sci-fi­/su­perhero genre limits the opport­unities for altern­ative, riskier indepe­ndent films in this genre.


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