Marvel's newest movie, Black Panther shattered box office expectations for a movie released in February and earned itself a 97 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The King of Wakanda just set another record Saturday when Black Panther passed The Avengers as the franchise's highest-grossing movie domestically, raking in over $630 million.
The movie represents a change for theater-goers in 2018. CNN reported that 11 out of 12 weekends at the box office have been led by films with minority or female leading roles. While that's an impressive and exciting stat, Black Panther's lead in the Marvel Cinematic Universe indicates a bigger shift.
Avengers: Infinity War hits theaters in a little bit less than a month, where it will more than likely dethrone the Wakandan ruler. This isn't a bash on T'Challa, who will appear in the film with a good portion of his supporting cast; Infinity War will have more than 20 Marvel superheroes cultivated over a 10-year cinematic journey. The previous two highest-grossing movies for Marvel were the first two Avengers films, and it will be no surprise when the biggest one yet matches — or surpasses — its predecessors.
But T'Challa has made his own place in the future universe and will pave the way for other heroes. Earlier this week, Marvel announced that production on Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, has started. Larson will star as the first female lead in a Marvel Cinematic Universe Film, piggybacking on the success of DC's Wonder Woman last year. After the success of both Black Panther and Wonder Woman, as well as women and minorities in the box office in general, Captain Marvel is sure to join the pack.
Trailers for Avengers: Infinity War show a significant portion of the film will take place in Black Panther's Wakanda. After T'Challa's efforts to begin outreach programs at the end of the movie, it's clear the king will likely take a leading role in both the world and the Avengers team.
In addition, Captain Marvel will take place in the 1990s, before the events of the vast majority of Marvel movies. It's also been announced that Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg will return to their respective roles as leaders of S.H.I.E.L.D. Captain Marvel's experience as a hero and relationship with leaders who were present at the Avengers founding will also likely springboard her to a leadership role.
Fans have been told to expect permanent deaths in Infinity War. Longtime stars like Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans may be on the chopping block, and Evans has already announced the fourth Avengers movie will be his last. There's even some speculation about who may take over the Captain America moniker after Evans departs, and Larson's hat may be thrown into the ring.
So, why does this all matter? Because after the biggest cinematic event of the summer and self-proclaimed "most ambitious crossover event in history," the box office gold that is the Avengers will be led by minorities and women, just like the box office.
It's a smart move for Marvel, and great for fans. The success of movies like Black Panther and Wonder Woman has surely gotten the attention of filmmakers.