There is no shortage of hype for the upcoming Black Panther movie, and as expected, the merchandise push is growing in number as the release of the film is fast approaching. In Hasbro’s new spot for the Black Panther toys, the toymaker wisely promotes diversity by casting a Black boy, a Black girl, and another boy of color donning the weapons of the mythical Wakanda.
In the first ad the company released, a black boy dons T’Challa’s Black Panther mask and claws, while a black girl along with a non-black friend wield Shuri’s panther gauntlets as the trio are transported from their backyard directly to Wakanda. Obviously, the mask and claws are plastic with a bit of circuitry in them and the gauntlets are a new kind of Nerf gun but to be clear—you almost never see toy ads aimed at and starring black children, and starring as the leads no less.
Because characters of color have historically been relatively marginalized in movies, comics, and television, toys and commercials like this simply haven’t existed before which is a shame in and of itself but has deeper consequences. Oftentimes, the first step towards becoming a fan of something or part of a larger fandom is finding a character that you can relate to when you’re young and then seeing your relationship with them validated by the world around you.
Right on, Gizmodo. Right on.
Check out the commercial for the Black Panther toys below. Try to act cool about it if you want, we’re not. And Hasbro, can you hook up the big kids among us with some adult sizes? Thanks.