LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — Neighborhood leaders in Little Rock think seeing a movie could actually change lives.
Black Panther is the latest superhero offering from Marvel Studios. Community leaders see the combination of blockbuster and barrier-breaking in the film and see huge potential.
“This is going to be monumental, and it's to be celebrated,” said Tolly Noel, a board member with Better Community Development Inc. in Little Rock.
He is ready to celebrate what looks like the latest comic-inspired big screen offering that promises to mine more movie gold for Marvel and Walt Disney Studios. Black Panther brings the superhero story of an African king we previously met in Captain America: Civil War. This time, the hero gets his own story, and oh, by the way, all the main characters are black.
“An all-black cast both in front of the camera and behind the camera,” said Noel. “It’s black excellence on display and it's all positive.”
Noel says that kind of Hollywood message does not come around every day. To take advantage BCD issued a challenge, asking help to bring 250 inner city kids to a Black Panther screening and posting on GoFundMe. He's trying to reach middle schoolers.
“Because they're at an age that's pivotal,” he said. “They could decide to go left or they could decide to go right.”
“There are very few opportunities where African Americans are superheroes,” said Deborah Bell, the director of programs at BCD. “I have grandkids myself who do the comic book thing. And so, unfortunately, they haven't been able to see African Americans in that role.”
Bell doesn’t usually follow the alternative worlds of Avengers but she sees this movie as a way to make a change in the world the next generation will live in.
“I was truly excited about the opportunity,” she said. “I do plan to go see it myself.”
The challenge went online on GoFundMe last week and made its goal of $3,000 in just nine days.
“It's still going, which is great,” Noel said. “We're going to be able to impact over 300 young boys lives and it's a great feeling.”
The boys will be drawn through connections of 12 different area groups. They will see one of two showings on President’s Day at the Cinemark Colonel Glenn cinema.