Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige says the Ryan Coogler-directed Black Panther is the “best movie we’ve ever made” and has praised the groundbreaking blockbuster for making the company “a better studio” (via The Wrap).
“The experience of making Black Panther, even before it came out, was a transformative one,” the producer said during the 10th annual Produced By conference on Saturday.
“We’re watching the final playback, where you see the final film and check for any last-minute changes, and when it ended I just instinctually leaned over to Ryan and said, ‘I think this is the best movie we’ve ever made.'”
With more than $1.3 billion in worldwide box office receipts and multiple smashed records, Black Panther is the ninth highest-grossing film of all time and is the sole film in the top 10 to have earned more than half of its global haul from just North America, where it pulled in $699.2 million domestically.
“We had to make that movie to destroy a myth that Black movies don’t succeed around the world,” Feige said, noting that “unconscious bias is a real thing.”
Marvel’s first Black lead movie — with a predominantly Black cast — swiftly proved a cultural phenomenon, entrenching Black Panther and its characters into pop culture.
Among its offerings were the famed ‘Wakanda Forever’ salute, the motion of bringing the arms across the chest in an “X” formation — a salute that has since been adopted worldwide by celebrities and athletes alike. Feige said the now-iconic greeting was improvised by Coogler and leading man Chadwick Boseman.
Producing Black Panther helped expand Feige’s horizons, with the producer taking note of the steadily diversifying crew around him. During one production meeting for the film, every person sitting in on the meeting “didn’t look like me, and that was exciting,” Feige said.
Having celebrated its ten-year anniversary this year with two back-to-back $1 billion-plus grossers in Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War — the studio next releases Ant-Man and the Wasp in July — Feige said Marvel’s next decade in the business will continue to push for more diversity both in front of and behind the camera.
Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp is the first Marvel movie to feature a female hero in its title, and Anna Boden, co-director of the upcoming Brie Larson-starrer Captain Marvel, is the first woman to direct a Marvel film. Feige said there are plans to place more women in director’s chairs and other leadership roles.
“At this point, there are more women on track to take leadership at Marvel Studios than there are men,” Feige said.
Black Panther is now available to own on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD. Ant-Man and the Wasp opens July 6.