As Avengers: Infinity War ramps up to break even more records, it’s almost hard to remember that earlier this year, Black Panther was also demolishing every box office benchmark in its path. With a sequel in the works and a whole convention inspired by the locale of Wakanda, the Black Panther craze doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.
But how did it start in the first place? Weighing in is star Martin Freeman, who played the one white guy taken to Wakanda to be saved, since his CIA operative Everett Ross required advanced medical technology. He spoke with EW about his part in Black Panther and the film’s meteoric success.
“I was doing them a favor,” he joked about how he ended up in the blockbuster. “I decided to take a chance on a guy.” But really, he never expected the record-breaking success. He expected success, sure. It’s a Marvel superhero movie and those guys seem to know what they’re doing. And the very nature of the film’s content and context, being the first black superhero in the Marvel franchise (sorry, Blade), led him to have expectations for greatness.
“People were hungry for it,” he says. “There were a lot of people who were dying to see it. It’s not often that people come up to you and say, ‘I’ve seen this film seven times. I take my mom, my dad.’ So, that’s rare in itself. As well as being a very good film, it also feels like a bit of a moment.” And yes, the cultural phenomenon is highly rated by critics as well as continuing to permeate geek culture - especially online.
His supporting role, while nothing like his lead as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit trilogy, has still solidified the actor as a mainstay of gigantic genre hits. But Black Panther will always be the moment.
If you want to return to Wakanda early, you can today as Avengers: Infinity War finally hits theaters.