The Marvel Cinematic Universe was already the biggest and most popular franchise in the industry long before Black Panther came along, but Ryan Coogler’s comic book blockbuster marked a watershed moment for not just the property itself, but the industry as a whole.
Even established veterans like Anthony Mackie have been critical of the MCU’s lack of diversity, something that Kevin Feige has taken on board and will actively be looking to remedy over the coming years, but with a predominantly black cast and crew delivering a universally acclaimed $200 million movie that earned over $1.3 billion at the box office and scored Best Picture nominations at both the Academy Awards and Golden Globes, T’Challa’s solo debut is directly responsible for kicking down more than a few doors.
Chadwick Boseman may have passed away, but his legacy will endure as the star of a movie that transcended the superhero genre to become a genuine cultural phenomenon, and very few actors can lay claim to such an important title. Robert Downey Jr. might have been the face of the MCU for over a decade, but when reflecting on Boseman’s passing, he admitted that the actor was much more important in the grand scheme of things than he could ever have been.
“Toward the end of the third Avengers, Infinity War, we all kind of lose together. And I remember it was one of those few days when all of the Avengers were together, and it was just the way he walked on set, and the immense success that had occurred, and rightfully so, with Black Panther. And he was just in this kind of stratus of his own, but always, always humble, always hardworking, always a smile on his face. And now, looking back, all the more, I realize just what an incredibly graceful human being he was.”
.@RobertDowneyJr. to @RobinRoberts: "#BlackPanther is hands down, it is the crowning achievement of the Marvel universe…it was the one where people got to vote with their ticket sales and say we require this overdue diversity…"#ChadwickBosemanhttps://t.co/b9Y9w2ekMC pic.twitter.com/eyMl03s8Ui
— Good Morning America (@GMA) August 31, 2020
T’Challa and Tony Stark may not have shared any meaningful scenes together during their time in the MCU, but Downey Jr. nonetheless labeled Black Panther as the franchise’s undoubted crowning achievement, saying:
“And Black Panther is, hands down, it is the crowing achievement of the Marvel Universe, and I say that with all due respect to all the films that have been made, including my own. But it was the one where people got to vote with their ticket sales and say, ‘We require this overdue diversity, this is a meritocracy, or at least it should be, and this is a fantastic movie that has leveled the playing field’, and appropriately so. His legacy is so meaningful.”
The future of the Black Panther franchise may have been altered forever in the most tragic of circumstances, but Chadwick Boseman‘s memory will live on for a long time to come as the star of the movie that broke down barriers and captured the imagination of the entire planet.