Nobody really expected Black Panther to be bad. Even if Marvel wasn’t on a nearly decade-long hot streak, Ryan Coogler is an ace director who’s surrounded himself with one of the more stacked casts of the last couple years, and the trailers have been stuffed with more thrills and visual creativity than a lot of Hollywood releases. But even the most optimistic of comic book fans probably didn’t guess that Black Panther, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first to star a black superhero, would bow to an eye-popping 100% fresh rating on film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, putting it in a singularly rarified stratosphere of critical love.
Black Panther will tell the story of T’Challa, the king of a reclusive yet highly advanced African nation known as Wakanda. The Black Panther was the first black superhero in mainstream comic books, first appearing in a 1966 issue of Fantastic Four, and he made his cinematic debut in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, played with appropriately regal finesse by Chadwick Boseman. In this movie, he’ll be joined by Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Forest Whitaker, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett, Sterling K. Brown, Daniel Kaluuya and relative newcomer (and rumored scene-stealer) Letita Wright. There’s also a Kendrick Lamar-curated soundtrack releasing on Friday, because this movie is pulling out all the stops.
And it’s working well. Black Panther is expected to crush the former all-time February box office champion Deadpool, eyeing a $150 million opening weekend, and setting a new first quarter record for pre-sale tickets, blowing past Hunger Games and Beauty and the Beast.
As more reviews trickle in ahead of the movie’s actual release date next week, that 100% rating is likely to dip a bit with a few outlying naysayers, but an early critical appraisal this strong is rare for any kind of movie, let alone a superhero flick. Let’s watch that trailer again!
All hail the king. You can see if you like it for yourself on February 16.
Tyler Huckabee is RELEVANT's senior editor. He lives in Nashville with his wife, dog and Twitter account.