The ‘Black Panther’ Enthusiasts Who Are Changing Cosplay: ‘We’re Helping People See Us as Heroes
Black characters are rarely central to the imaginary worlds that fill the pages of comic books, which often depict them as sidekicks or villains rather than the superheroes.
That means the cosplay community, made up of fans who dress in character at conventions, movies and just for fun on weekends, is overwhelmingly white.
That is perhaps why black cosplayers in particular have been excited about the “Black Panther” film since Marvel Comics announced its release in 2014 and Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a new series of the comic in 2016. Its hero, T’Challa, the Black Panther, lives in a fictional advanced nation called Wakanda. There, black characters can be both the hero and the villain, a three-dimensional portrait of people of African descent often left out of comic books and movies. There is a strong sense of African pride for the nation set in East Africa, one that is permeating black American culture.
The Black Panther character first appeared in Marvel Comics in 1966, but this film is Marvel’s first featuring a leading black superhero and a predominantly black cast, including Lupita Nyong’o and Chadwick Boseman, directed by an African-American, Ryan Coogler, with a soundtrack by an African-American, Kendrick Lamar.