Film premieres are often a haven for cosplayers, fans who dress up as their favorite heroes from the movie, and Marvel's "Black Panther" was no exception. Those who dressed up and went all out, though, did so for a more personal reason than just fandom.
Since Thursday, excited moviegoers all over the country have showed up decked out in traditional African garb in an homage to Wakanda, the fictional nation in eastern Africa where the film is set. Technologically advanced Wakanda has never been colonized by western nations and thus developed independently from the rest of the world, offering a new take on the African continent and its people than those that have been portrayed in film in the past.
Enthusiasm for "Black Panther" has also been fueled by the film's predominantly black cast and African-American director, Ryan Coogler.
"Those of us who are not white have considerably more trouble not only finding representation of ourselves in mass media and other arenas of public life, but also finding representation that indicates that our humanity is multifaceted," Jamil Smith recently wrote in Time magazine. "Relating to characters onscreen is necessary not merely for us to feel seen and understood, but also for others who need to see and understand us. When it doesn't happen, we are all the poorer for it."
The film has attracted praise for its vision of Afrofuturism and strong and smart female characters, according to the Associated Press. It addresses themes of racism and sexism.
"Black Panther" holds a 97 percent rating from Rotten Tomatoes. In addition to its critical acclaim, the film is projected to be a major box office success. It earned an estimated $25.2 million from Thursday preview screenings and could earn a record-setting $198 million in the United States over Presidents Day weekend.
Editor's note: The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of Marvel Studios and this station.