“Black Panther” stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa. Marvel Studios Marvel Studios
“Black Panther” stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa. Marvel Studios Marvel Studios

Entertainment

He wants kids to see superheroes who look like them. The ‘Black Panther Challenge’ is making that happen.

By David Menconi

dmenconi@newsobserver.com

February 07, 2018 01:34 PM

Based on advance buzz and reviews, Marvel’s superhero action blockbuster “Black Panther” is already shaping up as one of this year’s big hits – and the film is already a major social-media phenomenon.

The #BlackPantherChallenge, which New York activist Frederick Joseph started on social media, has gained steam across the country, raising thousands of dollars to buy movie tickets for kids who might not be able to afford them.

In Raleigh, a local campaign has far surpassed its original $1,000 goal to raise $4,838, as of Wednesday morning. Among the 120 contributors are “Ant Man and the Wasp” director and Raleigh native Peyton Reed, who signed his $500 donation with “Long live T’Challa!” (a reference to one of the super-hero characters in “Black Panther”) and also Tweeted out his support.

“Hi! Really happy that you organized the BLACK PANTHER gofundme in Raleigh (my hometown). Bravo on your success!” he wrote.

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@cjgproduxions Hi! Really happy that you organized the BLACK PANTHER gofundme in Raleigh (my hometown). Bravo on your success!

— Peyton Reed (@MrPeytonReed) February 14, 2018

The first event funded by the donations will be a 7 p.m. Sunday screening of “Black Panther” at Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh.

“I looked at the New York campaign and wondered, why not here?” said organizer CJ Guion, 27, who is involved with 100 Black Men of Triangle East – a mentoring group that helps at-risk black teens in Wake and Durham counties.

“A couple of other people were wondering that, too,” he said. “So I decided to start that up and see what happens.”

The film will be in theaters Friday. Directed by Ryan Coogler, it stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya and Martin Freeman.

Guion, an NC State graduate from Trenton, N.C., started the campaign in the Triangle to take 100 Black Men mentees to see the movie.

To donate, go to gofundme.com/RDUBP. Any additional funds raised will go to the 100 Black Men of Triangle East Mentoring Program. To inquire about attending, email Guion at cjguion@ncsu.edu.

Other campaigns have started in Durham/Orange County, Henderson for Henderson Middle School students and Goldsboro.

The Durham/Orange County campaign will buy tickets for children of the Boys and Girls Club of Durham and Orange counties. To contribute, go to gofundme.com/help-children-see-quotblack-pantherquot.

The national iteration has raised more than $45,000.

Before the Guion’s campaign started building, he applauded the reaction it had received.

“I think the reaction has been amazing,” he said last week. “It’s good for kids to see characters onscreen that look like them, especially superheroes.”

Indeed, since the film made its Hollywood debut last week, #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe has been trending on Twitter – a hashtag that praises the majority cast of black actors in positive leading roles in a superhero movie.

As one person posted, “My seven year old grandson exclaimed ‘Superheroes can be Brown people too?!’ 

My seven year old grandson exclaimed "Superheroes can be Brown people too?! #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe

— Sheel (@MzSheel) February 6, 2018

Others using the #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe hashtag have written that it’s refreshing to see minorities in a movie about something besides slavery or drug abuse: “A film that connects black american and african cultures in ways that aren’t all about trauma, conflict and slavery.”

a film that connects black american and african cultures in ways that aren't all about trauma, conflict and slavery. #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe

— marcussimmonscc (@marcussimmonscc) February 6, 2018

This is a hashtag we should all read. You know #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe? It means my black niece gets to see strong black women doing heroic things. It means she gets to see herself up on the screen. It's everything. I can't wait for her to see it. https://t.co/FZf6J60enU

— .ashley. (@AshleyEsqueda) February 6, 2018

As of Tuesday, the film had a rare 97 percent “fresh” rating on RottenTomatoes.com, or 108 positive reviews out of 111.

Lupita Nyong’o, left, and Letitia Wright in Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther.”
Matt Kennedy Marvel Studios-Disney via AP

David Menconi: 919-829-4759, @NCDavidMenconi

Where is it playing?

Go to triangletoday.com for listings.