Hollywood movies

Marvel superhero movie ‘Black Panther’ is making history even before its release

The first black superhero in the Marvel cinematic universe, as well as the first to be helmed by an African American director.

We’re halfway through 2017, which means it’s time for Marvel and DC Comics to start teasing us with what they’ve got lined up for the next year. For Marvel Studios, this comes in the form of the teaser for what might be their most anticipated movie in years: Black Panther.

Not only does Black Panther boast an enviable list of talent (Chadwick Boseman, Angela Basset, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B Jordan), but it also tells the story of a black superhero, the first in the Marvel cinematic universe. Black Panther also happens to be helmed by Marvel’s first African American director, Ryan Coogler, whose previous credits include Fruitvale Station and the Rocky reboot Creed, both of which starred Jordan. The movie will be released on February 16, 2018.

Black Panther (2018).

Black Panther is set in the fictional kingdom of Wakanda, a mysterious realm where technology and tradition have merged to build a veritable paradise. In the spirit of Marvel’s much vaunted love of continuity, both the hero and his kingdom have been introduced to viewers in Captain America: Civil War (2016). The latter not only showed us a glimpse of Wakanda in the post-credits scene, but also provided a lengthy encounter with its king and defender, T’Challa, the alter ego of Black Panther. Played by Boseman, T’Challa’s gravitas and air of tragedy, coupled with his obvious martial skills, immediately earned him a legion of fans.

Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War (2016).

Black Panther takes place shortly after the events of Civil War. T’Challa, who lost his father to a terrorist attack in Civil War, is reluctantly learning the lessons of what it takes to be king. When he returns from his tragic trip to the US, he is confronted with every ruler’s nightmare: factions within Wakanda seek to challenge his power, at the same time that outside forces begin their aggressive probes into the country. Wakanda is rich in natural resources – the fictional metal Vibranium, which was used to make Captain America’s shield. Vibranium is the source of much of Wakanda’s wealth and technological development; it is also what makes it of such interest to international groups, not all of whom have good intentions.

The Black Panther comic.
The Black Panther comic.

T’Challa is the first black superhero in mainstream comics, making his debut in 1966. He stands apart from later creations Falcon and Luke Cage (both of whom have already made their screen debuts, the former in a Netflix series and the latter as part of Captain America’s team in Winter Soldier). T’Challa is not American. He represents, through his position as leader of an advanced African nation, the idea of what could have been, an Africa untouched by the horrors of conquest and colonialism, pillage and slavery.

Wakanda, despite being fictional, is a powerful metaphor for a better world and a cleaner history than the one we are familiar with. As a superhero, therefore, T’Challa is more than just his muscles and quick reflexes: he is a symbol of African, not just African American, pride, and brings to life a sense of glory and perfection that is rarely accorded to depictions of Africa even today.

Marvel’s well-considered decision to place T’Challa’s storyline in the hands of an African American director, therefore, is especially important. Coogler has commented in an interview that Black Panther is his “most personal movie” yet. The star cast, which reads like a who’s who of black actors in Hollywood, has also been vocal about the importance of the hero in a world where #BlackLivesMatter has come to the forefront of news cycles, and old divisions seem eager to rise again.

T’Challa’s political weight has been underlined constantly, recently by the Black Panther comics written by american journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates. Though the spin-off comic was cancelled after only two issues, the fact that Coates, a noted thinker and activist, would be asked to write a superhero shows not only the power of the comic as a vehicle of thought, but also the heft and importance of this particular character, one who’s long been seen as a symbol of black dignity and power.

With all this riding on Black Panther, it’s no wonder fans are eagerly waiting for 2018. The king of Wakanda has a huge weight on his shoulders, but odds are Boseman, Coogler, and the rest of the crew will not disappoint. If the trailer is any indication, they’re more than ready for the challenge.

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Behind the garb of wealth and success, white collar criminals are hiding in plain sight

Understanding the forces that motivate leaders to become fraudsters.

Most con artists are very easy to like; the ones that belong to the corporate society, even more so. The Jordan Belforts of the world are confident, sharp and can smooth-talk their way into convincing people to bend at their will. For years, Harshad Mehta, a practiced con-artist, employed all-of-the-above to earn the sobriquet “big bull” on Dalaal Street. In 1992, the stockbroker used the pump and dump technique, explained later, to falsely inflate the Sensex from 1,194 points to 4,467. It was only after the scam that journalist Sucheta Dalal, acting on a tip-off, broke the story exposing how he fraudulently dipped into the banking system to finance a boom that manipulated the stock market.


In her book ‘The confidence game’, Maria Konnikova observes that con artists are expert storytellers - “When a story is plausible, we often assume it’s true.” Harshad Mehta’s story was an endearing rags-to-riches tale in which an insurance agent turned stockbroker flourished based on his skill and knowledge of the market. For years, he gave hope to marketmen that they too could one day live in a 15,000 sq.ft. posh apartment with a swimming pool in upmarket Worli.

One such marketman was Ketan Parekh who took over Dalaal Street after the arrest of Harshad Mehta. Ketan Parekh kept a low profile and broke character only to celebrate milestones such as reaching Rs. 100 crore in net worth, for which he threw a lavish bash with a star-studded guest-list to show off his wealth and connections. Ketan Parekh, a trainee in Harshad Mehta’s company, used the same infamous pump-and-dump scheme to make his riches. In that, he first used false bank documents to buy high stakes in shares that would inflate the stock prices of certain companies. The rise in stock prices lured in other institutional investors, further increasing the price of the stock. Once the price was high, Ketan dumped these stocks making huge profits and causing the stock market to take a tumble since it was propped up on misleading share prices. Ketan Parekh was later implicated in the 2001 securities scam and is serving a 14-years SEBI ban. The tactics employed by Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh were similar, in that they found a loophole in the system and took advantage of it to accumulate an obscene amount of wealth.


Call it greed, addiction or smarts, the 1992 and 2001 Securities Scams, for the first time, revealed the magnitude of white collar crimes in India. To fill the gaps exposed through these scams, the Securities Laws Act 1995 widened SEBI’s jurisdiction and allowed it to regulate depositories, FIIs, venture capital funds and credit-rating agencies. SEBI further received greater autonomy to penalise capital market violations with a fine of Rs 10 lakhs.

Despite an empowered regulatory body, the next white-collar crime struck India’s capital market with a massive blow. In a confession letter, Ramalinga Raju, ex-chairman of Satyam Computers convicted of criminal conspiracy and financial fraud, disclosed that Satyam’s balance sheets were cooked up to show an excess of revenues amounting to Rs. 7,000 crore. This accounting fraud allowed the chairman to keep the share prices of the company high. The deception, once revealed to unsuspecting board members and shareholders, made the company’s stock prices crash, with the investors losing as much as Rs. 14,000 crores. The crash of India’s fourth largest software services company is often likened to the bankruptcy of Enron - both companies achieved dizzying heights but collapsed to the ground taking their shareholders with them. Ramalinga Raju wrote in his letter “it was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten”, implying that even after the realisation of consequences of the crime, it was impossible for him to rectify it.

It is theorised that white-collar crimes like these are highly rationalised. The motivation for the crime can be linked to the strain theory developed by Robert K Merton who stated that society puts pressure on individuals to achieve socially accepted goals (the importance of money, social status etc.). Not having the means to achieve those goals leads individuals to commit crimes.

Take the case of the executive who spent nine years in McKinsey as managing director and thereafter on the corporate and non-profit boards of Goldman Sachs, Procter & Gamble, American Airlines, and Harvard Business School. Rajat Gupta was a figure of success. Furthermore, his commitment to philanthropy added an additional layer of credibility to his image. He created the American India Foundation which brought in millions of dollars in philanthropic contributions from NRIs to development programs across the country. Rajat Gupta’s descent started during the investigation on Raj Rajaratnam, a Sri-Lankan hedge fund manager accused of insider trading. Convicted for leaking confidential information about Warren Buffet’s sizeable investment plans for Goldman Sachs to Raj Rajaratnam, Rajat Gupta was found guilty of conspiracy and three counts of securities fraud. Safe to say, Mr. Gupta’s philanthropic work did not sway the jury.


The people discussed above have one thing in common - each one of them was well respected and celebrated for their industry prowess and social standing, but got sucked down a path of non-violent crime. The question remains - Why are individuals at successful positions willing to risk it all? The book Why They Do It: Inside the mind of the White-Collar Criminal based on a research by Eugene Soltes reveals a startling insight. Soltes spoke to fifty white collar criminals to understand their motivations behind the crimes. Like most of us, Soltes expected the workings of a calculated and greedy mind behind the crimes, something that could separate them from regular people. However, the results were surprisingly unnerving. According to the research, most of the executives who committed crimes made decisions the way we all do–on the basis of their intuitions and gut feelings. They often didn’t realise the consequences of their action and got caught in the flow of making more money.


The arena of white collar crimes is full of commanding players with large and complex personalities. Billions, starring Damien Lewis and Paul Giamatti, captures the undercurrents of Wall Street and delivers a high-octane ‘ruthless attorney vs wealthy kingpin’ drama. The show looks at the fine line between success and fraud in the stock market. Bobby Axelrod, the hedge fund kingpin, skilfully walks on this fine line like a tightrope walker, making it difficult for Chuck Rhoades, a US attorney, to build a case against him.

If financial drama is your thing, then block your weekend for Billions. You can catch it on Hotstar Premium, a platform that offers a wide collection of popular and Emmy-winning shows such as Game of Thrones, Modern Family and This Is Us, in addition to live sports coverage, and movies. To subscribe, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.