As always with Marvel Comics, their efforts in both comic books and cinema continue to be intertwined. According to both Box Office Mojo and ICv2’s estimates from today (July 26), Marvel Studios’ latest effort, “Ant-Man”, managed to fight off the Adam Sandler-led “Pixels” to top the domestic box office for the second weekend in a row. At the same time, Comic Book Resources has word from Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Axel Alonso that Black Panther will once again star in his own ongoing series (just as the character is set to appear in film himself).
“Ant-Man” saw an over 56% drop in box office revenue from its’ first weekend, but managed to draw in roughly $24.8 million for its’ second. Over the course of ten days, the film has grossed $106.1 million in the U.S. as well as $120.4 million overseas for a world wide total of $226.5 million. There are still more overseas markets for the film to debut in, and it has good word of mouth as a “family” adventure (which may aid in its’ staying power over the next few weeks). While it is unlikely to break any records, it is being projected as being a modest hit for Marvel Studios – which isn’t bad for a film which was in development for seven years and had to drastically change its’ director and script at the 11th hour. Turning a tidy profit on a project which other studios may have cut (and eaten) losses on still counts as a win for what has become one of Hollywood’s most reliable studios.
Meanwhile, despite appearing in promotions for the “all new, all different” relaunch era of Marvel Comics coming this fall, Black Panther had yet to be specifically mentioned in any solo series of his own (despite being attached to Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers comics for years). Axel Alonso confirmed that the new relaunches of comics would run from fall 2015 until February 2016 and that Black Panther – “Yes, Black Panther,” being a direct quote – would be among them. This makes considerable sense since not only does the hero serve the honor of being the first black superhero to appear in mainstream American comic books, but he will be set to appear in his own film on July 6, 2018 (starring Chadwick Boseman). Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966’s “Fantastic Four #52”, prince T’Challa becomes the ruler of the African nation of Wakanda as well as the owner of the Black Panther mantle after his father T’Chaka is killed by a villain (Klaw) who sought to plunder the land of its’ resources. T’Challa got his first lead feature in the “Jungle Action” anthology series from 1973-1976, and got two other mini series afterward. The character didn’t get his own full fledged ongoing series titled after himself until 1998, when Christopher Priest and Mark Texeira kicked off “Black Panther”, which ran for 62 issues. After a brief rest, Reggie Hudlin and John Romita Jr. launched another run of “Black Panther” from 2005-2008, and he got subsequent stabs at ongoing series from 2009-2011. These included stories where he took over Daredevil’s role as defender of Hell’s Kitchen as well as saw his sister Shuri don the mantle of the Black Panther herself. Throughout this period, Black Panther was a long time member of the Avengers.
Although Black Panther’s first adaptation to animation was in the 1994 “Fantastic Four” syndicated cartoon (voiced by Keith David, of “Gargoyles” fame), most of his animated appearances occurred within the last decade. These include “Ultimate Avengers 2” and a starring role in “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” (voiced by James C. Mathis III), as well as a “motion style comic” series for BET in 2010 which starred Djimon Hounsou. Armed with a classic origin and an incredible design, it makes sense for Marvel to once again make the ground ripe for the Black Panther to roam as he gets set for his big screen debut in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War”.