Black Panther 2's Danai Gurira Opens Up About Shattering The Perception That Superheroes Needed To Be White And Male

Danai Gurira in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

The major superheroes we tend to see in the MCU and DCEU universe are white men, like Batman, Superman, Iron Man, Captain America and more. That said, Black Panther's introduction in Captain America: Civil War shook up this norm in a big way and paved the way for other Black actors to play superheroes. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s Danai Gurira spoke about the importance of shattering the perception that a superhero needs to be white and male.

Black Panther was briefly considered the highest-grossing superhero movie in North America, and along with having a predominantly Black cast, it was helmed by a Black filmmaker. In an interview with The New York Times, Danai Gurira, who will reprise Okoye in Black Panther 2, spoke about how this superhero franchise can give audiences a new type of superhero to look up to. In her words:

We were able to create very full characters that killed a lot of stereotypes about what a superhero or heroism looks like. We all have stories, but one that jumped out at me was when this 11-year-old white boy would not let go of my hand. His dad was like, “I’m so sorry.” But, that whole experience shattered the larger idea that “Oh, the only way you can resonate is as a white male in these types of roles.

It’s true that audiences both young and old need heroes to look up to from all different cultures and genders. That way, they don’t feel they need to be white and male in order to make a positive impact on the world. Black Panther may not have been the first Black-led superhero movie, as we had the Blade trilogy, Spawn and Steel, but it was the first to be made with a $200 million budget with a mainly Black cast and crew. Its success inspired Marvel studios to change its strategy in having diverse voices tell diverse stories like how the director of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ Asian-American upbringing gave authenticity to the movie

Not only are different races and cultures brought to superhero franchises, but so are different genders as well. Letitia Wright, who plays Shuri, T'Challa's sister, felt proud that her character has been an inspiration to fans. As she put it:

It’s been really beautiful to see so many young people be inspired. I always feel really proud when someone says that Shuri has expanded how they think about themselves.

Marvel has been introducing audiences to female superheroes that kick ass as much as any man like Captain Marvel and Black Widow. In Wakanda, the undervaluing of women due to their gender does not exist. They are equal to men in being powerful weapons against a common enemy. With the untimely death of Chadwick Boseman, it is up to the female leaders of Wakanda to protect their nation from invading forces. Audiences can look at an idealized future in the country of Wakanda with the hope that the world can one day get there in terms of how we see each other.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever can help shatter the myths that a superhero needs to be white and male when everyone else in the world has a right to share their strength and voice. You can watch the highly-anticipated upcoming Marvel movie in theaters on November 11th. 

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.