Kevin Feige Explains Why Black Panther Was So Successful


As 2018 enters its final quarter, Black Panther looks set to be the first major awards contender of the MCU, with this impending round of accolades serving as one last victory lap for what’s already been a phenomenal year for Ryan Coogler’s film.

It’s a work that Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige seems particularly proud of, and in a recent roundtable with The Hollywood Reporter, the producer shared a few thoughts on the cultural significance of this release.

“Black Panther’s not real. He’s not a real person, but he represents real hopes and real dreams and real representation. And so there’s a certain amount of pressure that came with that, delivering on what people have been dreaming about for years, whether they read the comic book or not, because a lot of people said, ‘Wait a minute, this is a hero that looks like me.’ And the importance of that really can’t be understated.”

While Marvel continues to draw criticism for the lack of representation in their films, it’s clear that the studio has been taking measures to correct this balance. Earlier this year, for instance, Feige stated his intentions to increase the number of LGBTQ and female characters in the MCU, and efforts towards the latter can be seen in the upcoming Captain Marvel and Black Widow movies.

Though Black Panther’s majority black cast makes it an anomaly in the Hollywood superhero genre, Feige recalled how the film was met with little resistance from his bosses at Disney:

“Not for us, no. We had Black Panther on our schedule for a while. We were looking forward to bringing it to the big screen. We had amazing support. Bob Iger and Alan Horn at no point questioned it. And quite the opposite, said this needs to stand alongside the biggest movies you’ve made, and it had a budget that matched that. And at no point was there a question about this market or that market or where does it play or where does it not play. It was a big movie we were gonna make with an almost entirely African and African-American cast.”

Feige then went on to argue for the benefits of diversity not just in front of the camera, but behind it:

“If you’re in a position of power and you’re the one doing the hiring, we have learned on our last number of movies that the more diverse the group of people around the table, the better the movie, and the better the ideas, and the better it’s gonna look.”

The producer claimed that this openness extended to their willingness to bring in some new crew with limited blockbuster experience:

“And Ryan Coogler asked us, ‘Do you have production designers, costume designers you like to work with.’ And we said, ‘Sure, but if you had some let us know.’ And he said, ‘Well I’ve worked with various people on films that were excellent but much smaller than Black Panther.’ And our answer’s never outright ‘no,’ it’s ‘let’s meet.’ And in the case of every single crew member that he brought to us, they blew us away. They were incredible.”

Apparently, it’s not just Feige who was pleased with the results, with Black Panther coming out to phenomenal box office success and some of the strongest reviews seen by any Marvel movie. With that in mind, T’Challa’s subsequent death in Avengers: Infinity War would’ve looked like money down the drain if it weren’t so obvious he’d be back for a sequel.

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