ABC Audio’s Wakanda Week: Unpacking the impact of ‘Black Panther’


With Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hitting theaters this Friday, ABC Audio is looking back at the 2018 original film that started it all.

Black Panther’s impact on both the culture and the entertainment world cannot be overstated. In an industry that incorrectly held onto the belief that a Black-led film couldn’t “open” at the box office, the 2018 Marvel movie, the first stand-alone adventure of the character the late Chadwick Boseman first played in Captain America: Civil War, debuted to $192 million — the fifth highest-grossing opening ever. 

Over the four-day Presidents’ Day weekend on which it opened, the Ryan Coogler-directed movie’s bottom line ballooned to $218 million right out of the gate. 

Black Panther went on to earn more than $1.34 billion worldwide, and currently ranks at #6 of the highest-grossing movies in the U.S. and #14 globally.

Filmmaker and film critic Mike Sargent explained to ABC Audio, “It’s not that this movie made a billion dollars just because Black folks went to see it; it made a billion dollars because everybody wanted to see it.”

It was a lesson for Hollywood, he explains: “There’s nothing wrong with seeing a Black hero….There’s nothing wrong with cultural pride in a superhero movie. It shouldn’t be the first time ever, but it is. So it was a first on an enormous amount of levels.”  

Black Panther went on to win the Outstanding Cast award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2019 — the year it became the first Marvel movie ever to be nominated at the Academy Awards.

The Best Picture-nominated film took home Best Score for Ludwig Göransson, and historic wins for Black women: Costume designer Ruth E. Carter and production designer Hannah Beachler both brought to life the secretive, technologically advanced kingdom of Wakanda.

“We knew that we had something special that we wanted to give the world,” Boseman summed up on the podium at the SAG Awards. “…[We knew] that we could create a world that exemplified a world that we wanted to see.”

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