Marvel Studios is about to release its biggest movie ever, Avengers: Infinity War, but few could have predicted it would be opening a few months after the studio’s literal biggest movie ever at the box office. Black Panther opened in February to a monstrous opening weekend, but then it kept going and going and going. Bolstered by strong reviews and immensely positive audience response, Black Panther is now Marvel’s highest-grossing domestic release ever with a box office total of $681 million, and worldwide it’s only $70 million away from eclipsing Avengers: Age of Ultron to secure the #2 spot behind Marvel’s The Avengers.
So the question here is not if Marvel will make Black Panther 2, but when. Much of the success of Black Panther, creatively, is owed to co-writer and director Ryan Coogler, who brought an incredibly strong and clear vision to the film with great thematic weight.
When Collider’s own Steve Weintraub recently spoke with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige at the press day for Avengers: Infinity War, he asked if Coogler will definitely be back for Black Panther 2, and while it’s not a done deal it sounds very, very good:
“We definitely want Ryan to come back and that’s actively being worked out right now. When will it be? A lot of it will be when Ryan wants to and not rushing anything, but I think we have an idea of when it will be. But, again, [we’re] not going to announce any post-Avengers 4 movies until hopefully after Avengers 4, which is another reason we’re not going to Comic-Con.”
So understandably so, it sounds like Marvel is doing everything in its power to get Coogler back in the director’s chair—even if that means waiting a couple years for Coogler to complete a different project before moving forward on Black Panther 2. This is definitely not the norm, as sequels like Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier were on Marvel’s schedule regardless of who was directing. But with Black Panther, they know Coogler is vital to that franchise’s success, so if they have to wait three or four years for the sequel to come out while Coogler directs a smaller movie in between, they’d rather do that than replace him and get a subpar follow-up.
As for the success of Black Panther itself, Steve asked Feige if the wildly positive response altered any of Marvel’s plans. It turns out they were hedging their bets in the other direction, as Feige says their plans would have changed if Black Panther had not been received so warmly:
“The success of Panther is so amazing and makes us happy for so many reasons, and it certainly exceeded our lofty expectations. But our expectations were always lofty, so we had built a plan, not the least of which was centering so much of Infinity War in those locations and with some of those characters, that [its success] just says, ‘Let’s stick to this plan.’ It would have bee much more disruptive if it had not worked. Then we would have had to change a lot of what we were thinking about, but it really just solidifies and excites us to continue to move forward in the directions we’re heading in.”
If those directions don’t include a Shuri/Okoye/Nakia spinoff I will be disappointed.