Read Ryan Coogler's heartfelt thank you letter to Black Panther fans

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Feb 21, 2018, 6:18 PM EST (Updated)

In case you still haven't heard: Marvel's Black Panther is a massive hit.

The first solo film starring the titular African superhero seemed destined for a big opening weekend for months, driven by incredible advance ticket sales, social media buzz, and glowing reviews. It was obvious that Marvel Studios had something special on its hands from the moment the film's first trailer dropped, but even they couldn't have predicted just how big Black Panther would get. The film has already hit more than a dozen box-office milestones, including the biggest opening weekend for a February release ever, the biggest opening for a four-day holiday weekend ever (just shy of $250 million domestic), and the highest-grossing movie in America from a black director.

That director, Ryan Coogler (shown above with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige), put years of work into Black Panther, knowing all the while that a lot was riding on the film. Now he gets to sit back and take in the seemingly endless praise, the still-building milestones, and the celebration among Black Panther fandom that began last Thursday and just won't let up. Coogler's spent the last several weeks promoting the film, so he's already spoken at length about the process of making it and what it means to him. Now he just wants to say thank you.

The official Marvel Studios Twitter account (Coogler does not maintain a personal Twitter page) posted an image Tuesday night featuring T'Challa looming in the background, and a signed open letter from Coogler in the foreground. It's short, but emotional. It's Coogler's way of thanking everyone who made Black Panther the pop-culture juggernaut it is right now.

"I am struggling to find the words to express my gratitude at this moment, but I will try," Coogler wrote to begin his message. Then he went on to describe just how overwhelming the opening weekend of Black Panther was for him.

It can sometimes sound silly to describe a comic book movie as more than a film but a "movement." But it happened with Wonder Woman, and it's happening now with Black Panther. Celebrities are buying out entire theaters so underprivileged people can see the film. People are donating to schools, giving money to total strangers, so students can see T'Challa and company on the big screen. Fans are seeing the film and then immediately buying tickets to see it again. They're going to screenings in traditional African dress. They're dancing in the lobbies. They're celebrating that this finally happened. So it's safe to say Coogler has very good reason to be overwhelmed. After all of that (and more to come, no doubt), here's how he closed his message:

"Thank you for giving our team of filmmakers the greatest gift: The opportunity to share this film, that we poured our hearts and souls into, with you."

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