The Intersection between the MCU and Black Culture
We at On Comics Ground are celebrating the release of Avengers: Endgame in theaters, and the launch of our new podcast centered on Black voices and Black characters: Blerd Grounds. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become a cultural phenomenon that has taken the whole entire world by storm. Caught in this storm of popularity is arguably one of the most powerful influences in the world: Black culture. Not only has Black culture enjoyed the many amazing moments the MCU has produced, but it has also allowed for many Black people to let their nerd flags fly comfortably without fear of ridicule. The MCU has also enchanted many casual fans that represent the culture that otherwise wouldn’t pay these characters any mind. Personally, I have family members that I never would have thought would even glance at a comic book obsess over whether the Avengers can save the universe from Thanos. The culture, and the entire world are ready for the Endgame because like Captain America says, “I keep telling everybody that they should move on. Some do, but not us.”
Perhaps nothing defines the power and influence of Black culture more than #BlackTwitter. #BlackTwitter has fully embraced the MCU, and nothing proves this more than the “memefication” of the popular movie series. Whenever an MCU movie releases, a quick scroll through #BlackTwitter you’ll find obsessive theorizes from the diehard fans and the casual moviegoers, hilarious memes, and hot takes from people saying the movie is either TRASH or FIRE. Memorable experiences I can share revolve around a huge debate regarding whether Killmonger was right or wrong, relentlessly roasting Wong for what looked like him retreating to “protect the Sanctum”, and everyone describing Thanos as essentially “Space Deebo”. #BlackTwitter has become a place where the MCU is celebrated by Black nerds, casual black moviegoers, and for Black folks to get these jokes off at the MCU’s expense.
The most critical intersection between the MCU and Black Culture has of course been Black Panther. Black Panther being a critical and commercial smash has proven that not only can an all-Black cast be bankable, but that a Black Superhero is also Box Office Gold. Black People came out to see Black Panther in droves with the enthusiasm of Star Wars fanatics. Black People dressed up in traditional African clothing, rented movie theaters for underprivileged children to see the movie, and created an entire curriculum based around the concept of Wakanda. #WakandaForever is not just a catchy phrase, it’s a way of life.
My family and I have become extremely emotionally invested in the MCU over its 10-year reign over the entertainment industry. A strong bond I have with my cousins became stronger over countless phone calls, text messages, FaceTime calls, and Instagram posts where we discuss our reactions to the movies, theorize on the next release, and provide moral support as we countdown the agonizing days until the next movie release. My family also turns to me for questions regarding the MCU. I find it fascinating that the tables have turned and nerd culture has become popular culture. My comic book knowledge gained from a casual reading of comics as a child and more intense fandom in adulthood allowed me to strengthen the bond I have with my family by sharing information on what they can expect when the comics are translated to the big screen. I have seen almost every MCU movie with my fiancé and I have watched her fandom grow right before my eyes. I occasionally get teased for my taste in movies (I get roasted a lot for my enjoyment of Justice League and Shazam! but that’s another article for another day), but I enjoy the fun back and forth dynamic that our enjoyment of the MCU has created.
Avengers: Endgame is only days away and anticipation is through the roof. The good people at On Comics Ground encourage everyone to not be afraid to show your enthusiasm and passion for this film and any other films you love. The upcoming podcast, Blerd Grounds, will provide a platform for marginalized voices as we provide a voice to the marginalized but influential Black nerd culture. My family is proof that the MCU has intersected with Black culture in such a way that any upcoming MCU release is almost a national holiday. #BlackTwitter is one of the most powerful creative outlets for the culture, and the MCU has benefitted from the unique memes, theorizing, and speculating of this special segment of Twitter. The MCU brand is strong.