The newest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther created an unexpected monster in the box office, taking the number one spot for five consecutive weeks, a feat unheard of since the release of the 2010 film Avatar.
Earning over $605 million within its first 31 days of release, Black Panther is the second fastest grossing movie of all time. Soon to overtake The Avengers’s $623 million in domestic sales, Black Panther will take the title of most successful superhero movie of all time.
Proceeding the events of Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther follows T’Challa (played by Chadwick Boseman), the prince of Wakanda, a fictional African nation. Hiding under the facade of a third-world country, Wakanda is actually a technological superpower, cut off from the rest of the world by isolationist policy.
Before T’Challa ascends the throne after the assassination of his father, an unforeseen enemy rises and T’Challa is forced to fight for his right as king and to protect his people.
The film has received massive acclaim for its representation of African culture and its breakthrough with ethnic characters. From the beautifully designed costumes to its entrancing soundtrack, Black Panther is rich with African identity.
Much of the movie’s design was inspired by real African subcultures. The costume designs for the Dora Milaje were inspired by the Maasai people of Kenya. Ludwig Göransson, the movie’s soundtrack composer, spent an entire month in Africa, going on tour with artist Baaba Maal and visiting the International Library of African Music in Grahamstown. The score includes a variety of African instruments, such as the Fula flute, African harp, and the talking drum.
Many see Black Panther as a superhero for young African-American children to look up to. A GoFundMe project was set up to allow children in Harlem to see the film for free. It raised $400,000, making it the highest earning entertainment project.
Disney has also announced that they plan on donating $1,000,000 of Black Panther proceeds to STEM programs at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
“It’s fitting that we show our appreciation by helping advance STEM programs for youth, especially in underserved areas of the country, to give them the knowledge and tools to build the future they want,” Disney CEO Robert A. Iger said.
However, even a movie as successful as Black Panther is not without controversy. Though many hailed it for its acknowledgment of problems members of the black community face, others criticized the overt social commentary made by the film.
Regardless of one’s political affiliation, Black Panther was an incredible film. A revolutionary work in its genre, Black Panther could be a forerunner of ethnic superheroes in the MCU.