As fans set new box-office records trying to form their own opinions of where Black Panther will settle in the still-expanding pantheon of Marvel superhero franchises, there’s at least one fan—Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige—who’s already made up his mind.
In an extended feature for ABC’s Nightline, Feige said he was nothing short of blown away when he screened Black Panther for the first time alongside its director, Ryan Coogler.
“The movie finished, and I looked over at Ryan, and I said, 'That's the best movie we've ever made,'" Feige told Nightline.
Coming from a studio boss who’s set to roll out the superlatives in only two short months for Avengers: Infinity War—a movie that’s expected to break all kinds of records—it’s definitely the kind of observation that places Black Panther in rarefied air.
Both Feige and Coogler cite the film’s effort at social currency as part of the reason its story already is resonating in theaters. “Clearly, you have an anticipation from an audience who has never seen themselves portrayed like this before,” Feige said.
But the pair agreed that a movie like Black Panther couldn’t be great—or as profitable as it’s already become—if it weren’t also flat-out entertaining. The film’s appeal, they noted, comes not from an emphasis on pleasing only one type of audience, but from spinning a superhero tale anyone can relate to.
“It’s a universal story,” both Feige and Coogler agreed.
“The truth is, art can do that,” Coogler added. “As human beings, we’re capable of identifying with people who don’t look like ‘you.’”
It’s hard to argue with that, if the film’s opening box office is anything to go by. Well into the extended President’s Day weekend, Black Panther is on track to bring home more than $200 million.
That means it’s in theaters now, by the way, so go check it out and then report back with your take on where Black Panther’s first big-screen prowl falls among the best of the MCU catalog.