Black Panther is the 18th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a franchise that has made $13.5 billion at the global box office over the past 10 years. (Marvel is owned by Disney.) It may be the first megabudget movie—not just about superheroes, but about anyone—to have an African-American director and a predominantly black cast. Hollywood has never produced a blockbuster this splendidly black.
The movie, out Feb. 16, comes as the entertainment industry is wrestling with its toxic treatment of women and persons of color. This rapidly expanding reckoning—one that reflects the importance of representation in our culture—is long overdue. Black Panther is poised to prove to Hollywood that African-American narratives have the power to generate profits from all audiences. And, more important, that making movies about black lives is part of showing that they matter.