One can be forgiven for suffering from comic-book fatigue after what seems like two decades of constant Marvel Studios and DC Comic franchises and releases. From successful trilogies to reboot after reboot, barely a month goes by without a new character being forced onto our screens.
Black Panther, then, has perhaps drawn the short straw in terms of releases. Dropped into cinemas in-between the poorly-received Justice League and just head of the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, it is under a lot of pressure to perform.
But boy, has it performed. On its opening weekend, Black Panther bought in over $200m at the box office and became the second best performing film on a Sunday in history, just behind 2016’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The film had the luxury of being released on the four-day Presidents’ Weekend in the States, but its performance has still defied all expectation.
As for the movie itself, it is personally one of my favourite Marvel films. Chadwick Boseman stars as T’Challa, the ruler of fictional African state of Wakanda. Succeeding the throne following the death of his father, he inherits a country at a crossroads: continue to keep Wakanda and its technologically advanced society a secret, or opening up to the world and making the African state a global superpower.
Of course, given this is Marvel, there is the comic element to the film. T’Challa is also the Black Panther, powered by a special ‘heart-shaped herb’ laced with Vibranium that gives him superhuman power. T’Challa soon receives a challenger to the throne in the form of Erik Stevens, a Wakandian and all-round badass with a chip on his shoulder. It’s a potent mix and leads to film’s culmination, an epic battle between the two.
The film has been lauded for its celebration of African culture and for breaking stereotypes. On a global scale, the film has been met with consistently positive reviews. If anything, it’s left audiences with the need for more Black Panther; we could be witnessing the start of Marvel’s most revelled franchise.