Marvel’s newest film release has continued to make big waves even in its sixth weekend of release to the North American market.
The 2018 action film is now the highest grossing superhero film of all time, surpassing Marvel’s previous monster release The Avengers (2012). Black Panther has now earned a cool US$631 million (AUD $814m) to The Avengers’ previously record breaking US$623.4million (AUD $804m).
This record breaking performance has huge implications for Marvel. When released in 2012, Marvel’s The Avengers has already established audiences with previous releases of four individual superhero film series: Captain America, Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man.
Banding together four prominent characters in the superhero film scene and internationally famous actors such as Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johannsson, Marvel’s The Avengers was predicted to be a record-breaker. It has now been overtaken by a newcomer to the modern superhero movie scene.
Set in the fictional African nation of Wakanda, Black Panther now holds fifth place for top-grossing films in history, surpassing even Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Its success suggests the strength of representation in film, and indicates a shift in Hollywood’s screen makeup.
With a cast largely comprised of people of colour, Black Panther is a clear contrast to traditionally prominent Hollywood films – which, perhaps, holds the key to its success. It’s an indication that change is coming to the film industry and that movies with a diverse cast work.
Black Panther stands as an example against the argument that sacrificing a diverse cast for popular actors and actresses is viable and encourages key decision-makers in film to consider diversity and representation.
The economic success of Black Panther is to the point that it accounts for 24 per cent of all revenue made at the U.S. box office in 2018 so far. However, it has finally been unseated in weekly earnings by the newly released Pacific Rim: Uprising.
Garnering a positive response at both critical and commercial levels, Marvel’s Black Panther has big implications for Hollywood’s superhero scene. Its dethroning of The Avengers as highest grossing superhero film of all time speaks volumes for its support and audience response.
It’s probably safe to say that this won’t be the last we see of Wakanda, despite Marvel’s incredibly secretive methods. Having achieved great ticket sales and establishing a substantial fanbase with the release of one film, Black Panther is the new hero in town.
Pei Wen is interested in the workings of politics, the entertainment industry, and the intersection of business and technology with the social sciences.