One of the most anticipated movies of the year
Black Panther, the upcoming superhero movie about a prince that fights bad guys in a black panther suit complete with metal claws, might sound cheesy, considering that the most recent trend in superhero movies is to tone down costumes, but it is actually one of the most anticipated movies of the year, benefiting from a scene-stealing appearance in Captain America: Civil War. The cast includes stellar actors such as Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Forest Whitaker, Martin Freeman, and Daniel Kaluuya, just to name a few.
The events of the movie will take place after the events of Civil War, in which T’Challa, also known as Black Panther, was briefly recruited to fight with Iron Man against Captain America and his team. He joined the fight primarily because he believed that Bucky Barnes, whom Captain America was trying to protect, killed his father. Later on he learns that he was not to blame, and instead hides Bucky at his base in Wakanda, the fictional, isolated African nation home to Black Panther and some highly advanced technology. It will also bring the overarching Avengers storyline closer to its encounter with Thanos, the big bad they are to face in Avengers: Infinity War.
The marketing of this movie has embraced its majority black cast and crew, this being Marvel’s first film to purposefully and publicly address the issue of diversity. Many of the actors on social media have spoken of how meaningful it is to have a movie like this for the black community; to see inclusion and promotion of a piece of art connected to Black and African cultures. Many black people across the United States have also taken to social media to express that they finally feel like they have something representing them in the superhero cinematic landscape.
Black Panther’s political and social relevance even motivated marketing professional Frederick Joseph, a man from Harlem, to create the #BlackPantherChallenge, which fundraises money to take children from Harlem to the movie theater to see Black Panther. So far, 40,000 dollars have been raised, and Joseph has encouraged others to bring this challenge to their communities so that their children too can see the movie for free. It is a testament to the fact that this movie is already very popular even before its release.
The film is also setting the stage to go beyond what other MCU films have done with Black Widow; the prominent roles for multiple women in this film have added another layer to the cultural relevance of the the film. So far, the list of female characters includes the Dora Milaje, a group of warrior-women charged with protecting Wakanda, the royal family, the Queen Mother, and Black Panther’s younger sister. This, along with Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok, the upcoming protagonist role of Wasp in next Ant-Man film, and the long-awaited, upcoming Captain Marvel movie indicates that Marvel is beginning to grasp the importance of well-developed, empowering female characters.
Of course, a film with such strong connections to topics of great contention in current American society is not without its anti-fans. A Facebook group was reportedly planning to tank Black Panther’s Rotten Tomatoes score, regardless of the film’s actual quality. The group has since been deactivated by Facebook, with Rotten Tomatoes also releasing a statement condemning hate speech while promising to closely monitor the site for any signs of it. The first real test for Black Panther will be the critics’ reviews, which are set to release Tuesday the 13th.
Speaking of pre-release records, Black Panther has broken the record set by Captain America: Civil War of first day pre-sale tickets, and is on track to break Batman vs. Superman’s record in the overall pre-sale tickets category. It could even be a serious contender for the February opening record, whose current holder is Deadpool (2016).
All this talk of records, compounded by the praise from the premiere screening and rumored rave reviews by critics, has only increased the hype and visibility of the film, which is set to be one of Marvel’s most iconic films yet.