Denver “Black Panther” fans arrived fired up and dressed up for a screening hosted by Such

Fans at Alamo Drafthouse celebrated that the film represented blackness in a space where people of color have often felt left out.
3 min. read
Satya Wimbish wears a homemade costume. Black Panther opens in Denver at Alamo Draft House Cinema on West Colfax, Feb. 16, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

"Black Panther" actress Janeshia Adams-Ginyard speaks with Denver musician Such at an opening for the movie at Alamo Draft House Cinema on West Colfax, Feb. 16, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

"Black Panther," the new superhero movie that's the first to feature a predominantly black cast, has already broken records at the box office. Its wide theatrical release on Thursday night put it at second place for a Marvel Universe opening weekend.

Beyond America's normal frenzy for superpowered stories, the film has been celebrated for representing blackness in a space where fans of color have often felt left out. This was made clear before a special screening at Alamo Drafthouse in the West Colfax neighborhood where moviegoers showed up excited and dressed to the nines or in costume.

Local musician Such, organized the pre-screening program that featured slam poetry, food and a surprise Q & A with "Black Panther" actress Janeshia Adams-Ginyard.

When she saw the trailer, Such said, she knew she had to do something special. "This is something I need to see with my people," she said. "Any of y’all who saw 'Get Out' in a movie theater: You know what I mean."

Such recalled her son's reaction to seeing John Boyega as Finn in the most recent set of Star Wars movies, saying "Finn has hair like me."

"That’s when I realized, yo, that stuff makes the biggest difference," she told the crowd. "It really matters."

Quincy Shannon and 9-year-old Shamar welcome the crowd. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

"Black Panther" takes place in Wakanda, an African country that was never colonized, and grew into a futuristic society untouched by institutional racism. For many in attendance, like local activist Quincy "Q" Shannon, that unbridled potential realized on screen was also reason to be excited.

Blackness has long been represented in pop culture by negative images, he said. For black people young and old to be reflected on the big screen in such supremely positive light, he said "is just phenomenal."

9-year-old Shamar and his grandmother, Josephine Conner, wait for the program to begin. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The film also breaks from normal superhero narrative structure in that it features an entire community of extraordinary humans, not just a lone, brooding hero like we're used to. This has the effect of inviting viewers to see themselves as a piece of a larger whole; when people showed up to Alamo, many were dressed not as principal characters but as their own, personally imagined Wakandan characters.

Satya Wimbish wears a homemade costume. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

"What I love about Black Panther is that he’s not a superhero who’s in it for fame," Shannon said. "He does it because he wants to protect his community, and I identify with that."

Quincy Shannon welcomes the crowd. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Kerrie Joy performs a slam poem to open the program. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Big lines for multiple showings of "Black Panther." (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

CORRECTION: Su Charles' name has been changed to her stage name, Such, throughout.

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