La Cañada Flintridge resident Angela Bassett plays an important part in the success of “Black Panther,” the Disney-Marvel superhero epic that has inspired rave reviews from critics and audiences since its Feb. 16 release.
As of Wednesday, the blockbuster — in which Bassett delivers a regal performance as Queen Ramonda, the mother of Chadwick Boseman’s heroic Wakandan leader — reportedly had earned almost $422 million domestically, making it the 20th-highest-grossing movie of all time in North America and, sans inflation, the biggest solo, non-sequel superhero movie domestically.
The Ryan Coogler-directed film checks in behind only “The Dark Knight Rises” ($448 million in 2012), “Avengers: Age of Ultron” ($458 million in 2015), “The Dark Knight” ($534 million in 2008) and “The Avengers” ($623 million in 2013).
Bassett has played an extensive range of roles in her career, including Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” for which she earned an Oscar nomination. She told the L.A. Times that she felt a serious responsibility with this role in the first superhero movie to feature a predominantly black cast.
“Part of me had to rise to the idea that I [was] portraying a queen,” she told the Times. “To see what it looks like in that form was interesting. Although historically for us we have considered our mothers our queens, our heroines, our Rosa Parks, our Winnie Mandela’s, our Tina Turners, in terms of their gifts, their resilience, the commitment to our culture and our community.”
Bassett and her husband, fellow actor Courtney B. Vance, even made an exception to their regular family protocol when they brought their 12-year-old twins, Slater and Bronwyn, to the movie’s premiere.
“We keep them back from premieres and this sort of thing,” Bassett told Vanity Fair. “But [“Black Panther”] was one that we felt it was imperative that they experienced and witnessed. It’s an iconic film… They can see themselves in a light as warriors, as heroes, as kings, as queens, and potential panthers.”
— Mirjam Swanson