Wonder Woman told us the obvious: That there is an audience out there for superhero stories that break away from the normal scope of representation, if even only by a small margin. And now we’re coming close to a trend—roughly a month out from opening night, Black Panther, Ryan Coogler’s much-anticipated foray into Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, is already breaking records
Ticket pre-sales went live yesterday, and it took less than 24 hours for the movie to outdo Captain America: Civil War, Marvel’s previous record holder for initial ticket rushes. Sure, it’s a very specific record to have, but it matters. It reinforces something Hollywood has seemed reticent to recognize; that a superhero movie can be superhero movie that doesn’t star guys who look like Clark Kent can not only exist, but thrive. Coming off of a Golden Globe Awards show that spent more time talking about Get Out than actually recognizing it with real accolades, it’s a reminder that your market is as big as you want it to be.
Already, the movie matters to a black communities whose previous representation in superhero films have been historically underrepresented (Meteor Man? Steel? Blankman?!) .
People are excited. There are Kickstarters and GoFundMes and other crowdfunding initiatives around North America setting up screenings to send young black kids to the theatre. In Harlem, they raised more than $13,000 in 3 days. In Toronto, the group doubled its goal and is now sending 300+ kids to see the movie, in 3D, with any excess dollars raised going to help fund community programs.
While we’re still a few weeks away from the official release of Black Panther, all signs point to it being fantastic.With that cast, that director, and Disney’s bankroll, it seems impossible that it will fail, commercially or critically. But even if it pans out, this early return is yet another anecdote that superhero movies can only be for everyone if they can be for anyone.