Why “Black Panther” is the Most Important Movie Marvel Has Ever Made

Matthew Loffhagen
(Photo: Marvel)

There’s a new trailer for “Black Panther” out, and it looks as utterly beautiful as ever. Marvel has clearly been putting everything they have into making the film look and sound as stylish as possible, and there’s an important reason for that.

To say that “Black Panther” is an important movie is an understatement. Many are looking forward to one of the rare opportunities we have to see an African superhero headline a big budget movie – if this film works well, it’ll end up inspiring a generation of children and adults who can finally see themselves as the hero, rather than the sidekick.

In a more mercenary, business-related perspective, Marvel is looking at this film as a tentpole for the future. More than any film on their upcoming roster, this one will set the pace for the MCU going forward after “Infinity War”.

Phase Three of Marvel’s big movie plan is coming to an end, and the future may well feature a lot less of classic heroes such as Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. In their place, Marvel needs some new heroes to carry future “Avengers” films and to tie the universe together.

In an effort to grab big name actors to temporarily fill the gaps that will be left by the Robert Downey Jrs of the world, Marvel has hired Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, and Brie Larson as Captain Marvel. While these are bankable actors, they are, if anything, too recognizable for Marvel’s continued use.

It’ll have been impossible to sign Benedict into the kind of multi-movie deal that worked for the relatively unknown Chris Hemsworth a decade ago. The famous “Sherlock” actor will have a lot of freedom to be able to leave the franchise once he’s bored of it.

The same goes for Brie Larson, as an Oscar winner doesn’t have to put up with this kind of comic book nonsense if she doesn’t feel that Marvel is doing a good job with her character.

Chadwick Boseman, then, represents Marvel’s best opportunity for a longrunning star; someone who can become completely synonymous with his character because he’s not been seen in a lot of other movies beforehand.

Doctor Strange
Source: Marvel

While Benedict Cumberbatch is the new Robert Downey Jr for Marvel going forward (right down to the similar facial hair and character backstory), Boseman’s T’Challa is the new Captain America.

The Black Panther is a patriotic symbol, tied up in very modern politics, with a powerset that doesn’t make him ridiculous. His costume is even made of the same material as Captain America’s shield.

Nobody really expected the “Captain America” franchise to end up becoming the core of the MCU. While Iron Man has appeared in more movies than Cap, the high quality movies that keep people excited about the MCU as a whole are the ones that are about Steve Rogers.

Thus, it’s no big deal to Marvel that the Doctor Strange film was a bit formulaic, because they’re banking on their Captain America successor being the bigger hit. “Black Panther” is going to be the franchise that, Marvel hopes, will keep everything connected going forward.

How well this works remains to be seen. The new trailer for “Black Panther” looks great, but any movie can look amazing in a trailer scenario.

Black Panther Chadwick Boseman
Source: Marvel

With any luck, Marvel will see this movie becoming an international sensation, kicking off the future of the MCU before its current chapter has even come to a conclusion.

One thing’s certain: this is the movie, perhaps even more than “Infinity War”, that Marvel is hoping to connect with audiences and start off a brand new era for the studio.

It’s going to be fun seeing how this all plays out when “Black Panther” hits theaters.

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