The growth of Marvel’s universe through “Black Panther” is welcome

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COSMOLOGISTS, Eastern and Western, ancient and modern, have on occasion mooted the possibility of an ekpyrotic universe, one which expands, then contracts into fire, then expands again. Like most big cosmic ideas, this one has almost certainly been purloined, ornamented and abused more than once in the vast works of mythopoeic bricolage which DC and Marvel, America’s main comic-book publishers, have provided to the world over the past decades. (The climax of Alan Moore’s “American Gothic” storyline in DC’s Swamp Thing comes to mind.) But it also applies to those comic-book universes themselves, and to none more so than the cinematic version of Marvel’s. “Black Panther”, the latest—remarkably, the 18th—film from Marvel’s film studios sees this cinematic universe in a phase of significant expansion in the colour dimension. It is the first Marvel film to have a black protagonist and, just as tellingly, an almost entirely black cast. It is the first to be set mostly in Africa, and the first to be directed by an African-American,…Continue reading

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