The latest Marvel movie is always a hot conversation topic, and the excitement for the Black Panther movie has reached epic levels. Early reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, social media is all abuzz, and we know many of your students are seeing and talking about the movie.
Here’s your teacher’s guide to Black Panther, along with few ideas on how to work this pop culture phenomenon into your lessons.
Who is Black Panther?
Black Panther is a Marvel comics superhero, first appearing in a 1966 issue of Fantastic Four. His real name is T’Challa, and he’s the king of the fictional and technologically-advanced African kingdom of Wakanda. (Here’s an article that gives an in-depth overview of Black Panther’s history.)
Moviegoers first saw this version of T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, in Captain America: Civil War back in 2016.
Why the Black Panther movie is a big deal
Along with bringing a beloved character to a leading role on the big screen for the first time, Black Panther will also be the first Marvel movie with a black director, a black lead actor, and mostly-black supporting cast. For many kids this will be their first opportunity to see themselves reflected in a big-screen superhero.
The film also comes in the midst of a popular run of the comic from National Book Award-winning writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. His issues so far focus on power, culture, and what it means to govern, and they have enough symbolism and thematic complexity to carry hours of English-class discussions.
How teachers are already using Black Panther in the classroom
At all age levels, teachers have embraced comic books as an effective tool to engage their most reluctant readers. Black Panther is no exception.
Mr. Coffey noticed superheroes were a popular topic of conversation in his Oregon high school English class. “My students, who are majority black, can tell me all about Captain America and Spiderman,” he says. “If you ask them about Black Panther, though, they have very little to say.” In his project “Black Superheroes: Infusing Pop Culture with Real Diversity,” he used the Black Panther comics to give “students of color examples of people who look like them in positive and powerful roles.”
In Illinois, Ms. Laidler took a different angle on the comics to bring them into her middle school technology enrichment class. After they read the comic, they’ll use technology to create a comic book of their own. “I want my middle school students to view storytelling through a new lens by experiencing the comic, but then transform an idea in a new way through a technology tool.”
Plenty of teachers will be bringing their class to see the new Black Panther movie, like Mrs. Krieger in Endicott, NY. She created a DonorsChoose.org project to bring her students and their families to the movie, because “too often what [her] students learn in the classroom doesn’t make it to the dinner table.” By seeing the film together, her students can have the “opportunity to share in a significant learning experience” with their parents.
How to bring Black Panther to your classroom
Whether you have a class set of the comic or a class-full of excited students, there are plenty of opportunities to create a discussion around the film, for example:
Why superheroes resonate so strongly in popular culture today
What Africa might look like today without the legacy of colonialism
Representation of black characters in film and comics
The science and technology of Wakanda
The elements of rich, exciting storytelling
You can also create a DonorsChoose.org project to bring the comics to your classroom, or take your students on a trip to see the Black Panther movie. With all of the excitement around the film, now is the perfect time to connect with our community of donors!