DISNEY AND Marvel Studios might be embargoing critics’ full “Black Panther” reviews until Feb. 6, but they aren’t forbidding them and other influencers from sharing their reactions on social media.
And the first wave of responses after Monday night’s red-carpet rollout in Los Angeles contains superlatives that are rare for even the best Marvel movies.
Los Angeles Times writer Jen Yamato was quick out of the gate with her response Monday night, praising the film — which hits theaters Feb. 16 — as “incredible, kinetic, purposeful.” She also lauded how the film forcefully depicts issues of representation and identity.
Natasha Alford, deputy editor of the Grio, called the film “dope on so many levels” and pointed to the Wakandan women played by Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright and Danai Gurira as overdue symbols of diverse superhero representation.
Similarly, Entertainment Weekly contributor ReBecca Theodore-Vachon said that the film’s representation of black women “made me feel seen.” She was also among numerous writers who said that director Ryan Coogler has “changed the game” for Marvel’s universe.
Essence Editor in Chief Vanessa K. DeLuca hailed Coogler and the film’s potential impact on younger viewers.
And there are the exhortations from celebrities, with perhaps no compliment surpassing that of Jill Scott, who tweeted that “Black Panther” surpassed another Disney franchise, “Star Wars.”
Although some industry skeptics have repeatedly warned that “superhero fatigue” will soon plague the multiplex, “Black Panther” is striking some viewers as an invigorating shot in the arm to superhero cinema — at least rivaling the cultural moment that WB/DC’s “Wonder Woman” became last year. “Wonder Woman” grossed $821.8 million worldwide, more than any other film solo-directed by a woman.
As Deadline reported early this month, Fandango presales for “Black Panther” in the first 24 hours outpaced every previous Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, including 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War,” in which Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther/T’Challa made his debut. “Civil War” went on to gross $1.15 billion worldwide.
No film with a predominantly black cast has ever topped the billion-dollar mark at the worldwide box office. The biggest film ever directed by a black filmmaker is last year’s “The Fate of the Furious,” which F. Gary Gray guided to a $1.236 billion take worldwide.
Given the escalating crescendo of hope and hype, “Black Panther” should enjoy a long, profitable spring, and may yet reign over the Marvel sequel “Avengers: Infinity War,” which lands May 4 — and in which Boseman’s character also appears.
Meaning the Black Panther could help Marvel gross $2 billion worldwide before even the end of summer.