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Friday, February 23, 2018

Black Panther Lives Up to the Hype

Written by Jon Williams

The superhero character Black Panther first appeared in Marvel comics in 1966, gracing the pages of a Fantastic Four adventure. He later appeared in comics featuring Captain America, the Avengers, and Daredevil, before finally scoring a comic of his own in 1973. Likewise, in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther first came to the screen as part of the massive ensemble in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. The electrifying performance by Chadwick Boseman made audiences very excited for the character’s first standalone adventure, which finally made its way into theaters last week—with a bang. Along with rave reviews from critics and fans, it owned the box office in its first weekend with over $200 million in North America, and it looks to stay on top in its second week.

That huge opening weekend put Black Panther in some heady company, as it became just the fifth film to crack the $200M mark. The first was another Marvel movie, The Avengers, in 2012. It was done twice in 2015, first in the summer by Jurassic World. Then, toward the end of the year, The Force Awakens brought the Star Wars saga back into theaters for the first time since 2005 to the tune of nearly $250 million, the biggest opening of all time to date. Then, just a couple of short months ago, that film’s follow-up, The Last Jedi, joined this blockbuster list as well. Black Panther is certain to dominate the box office again; the only question is whether it can become just the fourth film to follow a $200+M opening with a $100+M weekend (FWIW, our crystal ball says it will—easily).

So what’s behind the film’s runaway success? First off, you can’t overstate how the thrill of finally seeing a black superhero has resonated with fans, both longtime Black Panther fans and just moviegoers in general. And while that is a critical factor, it wouldn’t matter nearly as much if the movie weren’t outstanding in its own right. It begins with 31-year-old wunderkind director and co-writer Ryan Coogler. He has just two previous films to his name, but they’re good ones: the 2013 Sundance darling Fruitvale Station and the 2015 Rocky reboot Creed. Both of those films starred Michael B. Jordan, and he features in Black Panther as Killmonger, the primary foil to Boseman’s hero. Those two are part of an incredible cast that includes Academy Award winners Forest Whitaker and Lupita Nyong’o, as well as Angela Bassett, Daniel Kaluuya from Get Out, and Danai Gurira from The Walking Dead, to name just a few. Add in a killer soundtrack curated by hip-hop superstar Kendrick Lamar and you can see the primary elements that have come together to create the phenomenon this movie has become.

With Black Panther just going into its second week in theaters and expected to continue raking in the cash, it will be a while before it becomes available on DVD and Blu-ray. In the meantime, though, there’s plenty of material to satisfy those who just can’t get enough. In addition to everything listed above, you can SmartBrowse on our website to find all the Marvel movies and plenty of other superhero content. And if your library is signed up with hoopla, there are a number of Black Panther comics available for patrons to explore, all with no waiting!

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