“THERE ARE PREMIERES,” said the actress Angela Bassett, “and there are premieres.”
The triumphal march down Black Panther’s purple carpet and into the Dolby Theatre signaled that this was the latter, clearly—an occasion not just for Hollywood’s cyclical ritual of self-celebration but to toast a presumptive billion-dollar blockbuster written, directed, and starring people of color, a bet no studio had dared make before. The rapper Kendrick Lamar, arriving with an entourage of about fifteen, had flown in that afternoon from New York along with Janelle Monáe; both had performed at the Grammys the night before. The tiered tassels of Bassett’s marigold jumpsuit swished every which way, the jewels sewn into the bodice of Lupita Nyong’o’s Atelier Versace gown trembled excitedly, and actors in dashikis greeted executives in suits as preadolescent Marvel Comics mega-fans in glittering orthodontia swirled around them.
As if by design, all this traffic seemed to flow toward Robert Iger, chairman and CEO of Disney, known far and wide as Bob, who was hanging at a safe distance from the step-and-repeat. In a dark Tom Ford suit with wide lapels and a waistcoat, Iger looked rather like the hero of the Ian Fleming novels he devoured in junior high. No, with his V-shaped chest (Iger is a famously fit 67-year-old) and welldrawn features, tinted by the violet light of the tent, he was a superhero