Recently Entertainment Weekly ran a cover story on the new Captain America: Civil War film which will be out in May. Like most fanboys and girls I am very excited to see this film. It marks the live action debut of one of the most anticipated superheroes of all, Black Panther. If you follow my blog you may have noticed that I am a big Black Panther fan. Ever since I first saw him in the Avengers comics I thought he was alright but not that interesting. It wasn’t until Christopher J. Priest’s run on the series that I realized how powerful this guy was. T’Challa is the king of the most technologically advanced nation in the world, Wakanda (To all my geographically impaired people, please don’t look it up on a map, it doesn’t exist). He was an awesomely intelligent leader who could outmaneuver Captain America and has the technological brilliance to even make Tony Stark look like a Luddite.
Now imagine my disappointment when I saw the cover.
Now there are a number of things that I take issue with regarding this cover. Firstly, how are you going to place the newly introduced character into the background? That’s not the treatment Entertainment Weekly gave Wonder Woman on its Batman V Superman special issue. Just notice the difference…
Wonder Woman is the newly introduced character to the DC Cinematic Universe (We’ve already seen Batman, albeit in his Dark Knight Trilogy, recently). She looks bold, confident, and second to no one. Now, with the Black Panther they have him looking like the third wheel that nobody wants. Seriously? I know that the cover editors probably never overtly intended to disrespect him but then again whoever intentionally disrespects someone these days? They just do it accidentally…like that’s any better.
Secondly, they compare him to one of the reality show Housewives, pick your version, Orange County, New York, Atlanta. My money’s on Atlanta because he’s a black character and they have a predominantly black cast. But I digress. Before I leave this point, speaking of Atlanta, the Atlanta Black Star also wrote a piece discussing the EW Black Panther cover issue.
Thirdly, simple editorial reasoning says if you’re going to introduce a new character you put them up front. That’s like introducing the new LeBron James shoes behind a Jump Man logo for Jordans. That simply does not make any sense whatsoever. When you place the character behind you’re saying a number of things. Firstly, the character doesn’t matter. Secondly, he’s weak. Thirdly, we were too lazy to make our cover correspond with the interior content. All of those things rightly rile up a fanboy or girl.
Granted, they do a very good job on the interior in covering the character and discussing with Chadwick Boseman, the actor portraying the character, the intricacies of the character. But, as the saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Many casual moviegoers who aren’t familiar with the character will look at the cover and say, “Who’s that (literal) Black Guy behind Captain America and Iron Man?” and then shrug their shoulders and walk off. It’s imperative that you treat all of your characters with respect, not just the ones with Arc reactors and stars on their chests.