One of the Black Panther movie posters displayed at McMenamins Bagdad Theatre & Pub. Photo by Abby Watters

Without a doubt, Marvel’s newest film Black Panther has been a huge success. Its uniqueness as a superhero film shows in that it not only features a primarily black cast, but it also tackles themes of real world struggles for that community while showcasing strong female leads. This film has set the tone for the quality of Marvel productions in the future.
Black Panther was released on February 16, 2018. As of March 9, it is already the ninth highest domestic (meaning in the United States and Canada) grossing film of all time, with over $520 million in box office sales. It is expected to keep climbing the list and soon pass Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) and Beauty and the Beast (2017) on the all-time domestic grosses list. As of March 13, it is 20th on the all-time worldwide grosses list.
The film tackles issues affecting modern-day black life, as well as what it means to be black in both America and Africa. These themes, paired with epic action, impressing visual effects, and spot-on casting make Black Panther special. “You have superhero films that are gritty dramas or action comedies,” director Ryan Coogler said in an interview with TIME. “[This movie tackles another important genre:] Superhero films that deal with issues of being of African descent.”

As the 18th movie coming from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), a franchise that has made $13.5 billion in the global box office in the last ten years, Black Panther is the first mega budget movie to have a predominantly black cast and director. This representation of strong black characters and crew is so important because of the extremely white, male history of blockbusters—Black Panther has set the tone for more films to begin representing people of all genders, races, and sexualities, because of its immense success.

Another aspect of the film that makes it so strong are its female leads. The female characters in the film are strong, smart, and tech-savvy. This representation of females can empower young girls to see new possibilities of what they can do. “In Black Panther they stuck with the message given by having a complex black hero from a different but still complex and advanced society and added in even more strength to the already powerful women,” said Marvel fan Paulina Nelson (12).

The release of Black Panther has been a worldwide hit. But what does this mean for the future of the MCU’s films? Black Panther will be followed by the release of possibly the MCU’s most anticipated movie to date, Avengers: Infinity War. This film is set to be released on April 27, 2018 in the US. It will showcase almost every single one of the MCU’s heroes from the past ten years, including Black Panther. Following Avengers: Infinity War will be an abundance of future MCU films, including Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 6, 2018), Captain Marvel (March 2019), and many others. Captain Marvel will showcase the MCU’s first film with a female title character. With the success of Black Panther we may even see a sequel in the years to come.

Black Panther has made history with its box office success, but it has also provided the world with a new kind of superhero film—one that tackles real life struggles as well as fantasy.

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