Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you know that the Black Panther film has been taking the movie theater box offices by storm and that the A Wrinkle in Time film is getting attention, both in entertainment and children’s literature circles. In some ways, comparing the two films is like comparing apples and oranges, since A Wrinkle in Time’s main target audience is families, and Black Panther has a larger audience span, particularly among lovers of comics. Yet, since I have a deep interest in both comics and children’s literature, I could not help noticing common threads between the two, especially since I saw them within two weeks of each other and because I studied diverse children’s literature, comics, and popular culture in graduate school.
Because I had recently read this book about Afrofuturism by Ytasha L. Womack, I noticed that both movies promoted a better version of the future. Black Panther encouraged dialogue and action related to race relations in the United States, and A Wrinkle in Time showed a fantasy world where diverse women rule, where children have the power to fight against evil, and where a woman of color in STEM helps to discover an amazing way to travel across the universe using one’s mind. These worlds are like our “real world” in some ways, only better, very much like fandom environments I have been a part of over the years.
Yet the theme in both of these movies that I personally most connected with , and that I believe relates to fandom communities and events, is belonging. Meg from A Wrinkle in Time feels like she doesn’t belong at school, and particularly since she doesn’t understand her father’s disappearance, she doesn’t see her connection to the larger universe. Calvin feels like he doesn’t belong with his own family, so he finds a new community with Meg, Charles Wallace, and the mystic women of the light (Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Who).
Erik Killmonger’s primary motivation in Black Panther is power, yet is he also looking for a community with which he truly belongs? More importantly, Wakanda leaders ponder and disagree about their place within the larger world. Is their role to protect their own? Or, should their outreach expand beyond their own country? In this alternative universe, Wakanda ponders the same ethical issues of economic privilege and power that I believe plague the United States currently, particularly since the US has a history of stripping people of the places from which they felt they belonged. T’Challa, as king, belongs to Wakanda, but also must ask himself questions about where he and his country belong in relation to the rest of the world.
An aspect of fandom communities that I love is that I have always felt welcomed within them. The popular culture conventions and events I have attended have accommodated a variety of interest. But I realize that because I have White middle class privilege, cisgender privilege, and heterosexual privilege, I am able to belong to new settings more easily than many people. I appreciate Universal FanCon’s mission to make fandom even more inclusive, a mission that’s even more important in today’s political climate.
Universal FanCon will host a diverse array of entertainers, artists, and writers. Click here to access the guest list, and book your passes ASAP! No matter what your interests in fandom and your background, you’re sure to find a community to belong to at this Con. Universal FanCon is only the start of what will hopefully be a better future for fandom communities and for the world.
–Margaret Ann Robbins
Contributor to Universal FanCon