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Months Before Its Release, ‘Black Panther’ Already Inspires Atlantans

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After more than 50 years of  Marvel “Black Panther” comic books, the Wakandan warrior king will finally receive his own film. Complete with a stellar cast, including Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Guirra, “Black Panther” is being directed by Ryan Coogler, known for “Fruitvale Station” and “Creed.”

The film is set to release in February 2018 as part the end of phase three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with a teaser premiering during game four of the NBA finals on Friday night. The film will also be historic, as it is the first major superhero film to have a black actor as the lead role and a majority African-American supporting cast.

“It’s a good thing for little boys and children in general to have a superhero they can look up to that looks like them,” said 19-year-old Kaitlyn Peeples. “I feel like every race should have some type of character that has integrity, honesty, things like that that they can look up to. Not just one race has this one character because not everyone looks the same and so not every superhero looks the same.”

The only other black superheroes to take lead roles in any sort of filmography were Static from the DC Comics cartoon series “Static Shock” and Luke Cage from Marvel’s highly rated Netflix series “Luke Cage.”

This is the first film with a black actor lead role for Marvel, and because of this — and how much history the character has — many fans are expecting a lot from this film. Many people of color have been waiting for an on-screen hero who looks like them that they can identify with. “Lately there have been a lot of African-Americans being portrayed in key [movie] roles. It’s just really awesome to give them that opportunity and to show more inclusion and diversity in Hollywood,“ said Sheliah Williams, 28, in downtown Atlanta.

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This movie faces high expectations due to Chadwick Boseman’s critically acclaimed performance as the Black Panther in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War.” Boseman will reprise his role in the new “Black Panther” film.

Friday night’s premiere of the teaser comes a week after “Wonder Woman” had its record-breaking opening weekend. In the same way that the DC hit has been touted as an inspiration for women and girls everywhere, “Black Panther” may change the way that young black people see themselves.

As Jaya Franklin said, while sitting across from her 8-year-old son Jakai: “It’s a huge deal because when I was little I didn’t see things like that. And [it’s the] same thing with having a black president. It instills different things into children, meaning it inspires them to know they can do this and they can do that — they can grow up to be a president or grow up to be a leading super hero.”

Photo: Team “Can’t Be Stopped” interviewing “Black Panther” fans at Peachtree Center Mall Friday.

Chris Jordan, 14, goes to DeKalb School of the Arts. Devon Haller, 14, goes to Grady High School. Royce Mann, 15, goes to The Paideia School and likes plain pasta. Amir Scott, 14, goes to Midtown International School.

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