This Presidents’Day weekend, Marvel fans were in for an all-star cinematic experience. The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s newest film has already earned its spot among the greats, even surpassing several long-time favorites. Black Panther opened to sold-out theaters this passed Thursday, February 15th. Sources projected opening night ticket sales of $25 million, tying with Captain America: Civil War as the second highest grossing Marvel movie behind Avengers: Age of Ultron and nearly doubling Marvel’s other big February open, Deadpool. Black Panther is breaking records everywhere, including ticket pre-sales. The new Marvel gem stole the rank as the fourth biggest pre-seller of all time behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Black Panther is slaying box office records, but that’s not the only reason this film will be making history. Black Panther will set the bar as the highestgrossing film to feature a black ensemble cast. Already a huge success, this film stands as proof that movie-goers will still come out in droves to see a film with an a predominantly black cast. Hollywood waited with bated breath to see if this film would draw white audiences. The worry was quelled as polling results proved that 49% of white respondents were planning to see Black Panther. This number is actually higher than that of any other Marvel movie. According to The Washington Post, the movie with the next closest percentage was Iron Man, with only 46% of white respondents planning to see the film. Black Panther will also be a record-breaker for an African American director. Ryan Coogler, the director behind Creed, is the first black Marvel director. It’s important to see yourself, regardless of race or gender, represented on the big screen, and represented as a hero. Black Panther is home to a cast of outstanding black men and women. The leading cast features a black female genius inventor, a strong black female warrior, a hardworking black female activist, and a thoughtful and unselfish black king and hero. This film is culturally significant, and Black Panther’s adaptation to the big screen is long overdue.
The film, based on the 1960’s comic book series, begins in the African nation of Wakanda, the birthplace of the universe and home to the largest deposit of mystical Vibranium, the strongest metal in the world. Wakanda is the most advanced civilization in the world, but hides away in plain sight, much like Wonder Woman’s Island of Themiscyra. In public relations, Wakanda poses as a third world country, never participating in trade and accepting no aid. Keeping people from knowing the technological and natural wealth of Wakanda keeps its people safe, or so it seems. Following the death of his father, King T’Chaka (which took place in another Marvel hit, Captain America: Civil War), Prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is ready to take his rightful place on the Wakandan throne. Shortly after he is named king, Wakanda’s peace is threatened when an old family-made enemy arrives. Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) an Oakland, California native and Navy SEAL with a surprising connection to Wakanda compromises T’Challa’s reign. A true superhero film, Black Panther’s fight sequences, chase scenes, and action were in no short supply, but the real depth of the story was found in T’Challa’s supporting cast. His kid sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), is an inventor, and designs all of T’Challs’s suits and tech. Shuri was definitely the fan-favorite, and stole the show with her skills, quick wit, and relatable sibling dynamic with her elder brother. Okoye (Danai Gurira) is a loyal friend and general of the Dora Milaje, who fight to protect Wakanda and its ruler. Okoye is a strong fighter, taking down anyone who would threaten her friends and her home. Black Panther shows the importance of surrounding yourself with people that you trust. The wise King T’Challa knew never to do anything alone. He was not too proud to accept help, which is a strong quality in a hero. His partners in combat never felt like sidekicks, but all fought together, creating a united front against a common threat.
Regardless of what you look for in a movie, be it heart-pumping action sequences, interesting, loveable characters, or thought -provoking story, Black Panther has something for everyone. Its opening night popularity and overwhelmingly positive early reviews stand as a testament to how monumental this film really is. Movie-makers will be keeping an eye on Black Panther’s bottom line, and its success will pave the way for a new wave of filmmakers and a new definition of what a box office success can look like.