Starting today, fans can meet Wakanda's T'Challa, aka Black Panther, in the Hollywood Land Backlot in Disney California Adventure. In theaters, Black Panther is looking at a $200 million-plus opening holiday weekend in the United States and grossing more than $400 million worldwide, making it the second-biggest MCU opening ever (behind The Avengers) and the fifth-biggest domestic movie opening of all time.
So, yeah, it's a hit.
Black Panther is accompanied in park for his meet and greet with his royal guards, the the Dora Milaje. But of course the success of this addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going to get fans wondering how this new franchise might accompany whatever else Disney has planned for its Disney California Adventure Marvel land... whenever Disney gets around to officially starting that project. Guardians of the Galaxy already took over Tower of Terror and various Marvel characters have been greeting fans in the adjacent Hollywood Land, which is widely tipped to become the new Marvel land... at some point. But Wakanda offers some amazing place-making potential in addition to the usual generic urban setting of the MCU, so that's going to get armchair Imagineers' imaginations racing.
As of this point, there's no sign of Black Panther at Walt Disney World. Although Black Panther is not one of the characters featured in Universal Orlando's Marvel Super Hero Island, his traditional association with The Avengers character family might leave him off limits to Disney's use in Florida, due to Marvel's perpetual contract with Universal in that market. But several insiders have said that Disney and Universal came to an explicit understanding as to which Marvel characters Disney could and could not use at Walt Disney World before Disney announced Epcot's Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster, so if there's any chance of Black Panther being able to appear at Disney World, that legal agreement already would be in place. And if it isn't... Black Panther ain't coming there, ever. We will see.Tweet
Plus, there’s only 2 months before Infinity War.....so I’m sure they’ll be adding even more to this.
Disney is being very smart here by rolling T'Challa out in such a public way (a lot of times Disney will roll out new character meet and greets without announcing them to gauge guest reaction when they happen to see the character appear in the park), because it attracts a powerful demographic Disney (and many other entertainment companies) have ignored for decades. If Tyler Perry has taught Hollywood anything, it's to never underestimate the black audience, and Disney is the latest company to take advantage of this under-served market. By making Black Panther's presence in the parks so public and piggy-backing immediately upon the immense success of the movie, it's clear Disney is trying to hit this demographic (they tried with Princess Tiana, but The Princess and the Frog was not quite as pop culture-defining as Black Panther - further linked to the demographic through Kendrick Lamar's curated movie soundtrack).
Disney is capitalizing on the cultural phenomenon, but hopefully it's not the end and that future movies like this targeted at specific demographics are not just copy cats or only provide lip service for those audiences. That's what differentiates Black Panther with director Ryan Coogler not only presenting iconic African imaging and styling, but also giving audiences a very real look into current events and topics that those of African descent deal with on a daily basis. Marvel/Disney allowed Coogler to tell a very poignant story that resonates with the target audience and fits nicely within the MCU while still being independent enough to be enjoyed and related to as a self-contained movie. Disney's piggybacking with character appearances is a clear attempt to strike while the iron is hot. Hopefully Disney/Marvell will keep that iron hot.
Plus, loved how Martin Freeman's character isn't "the token white guy" who's made to look a fool but really smart and even helps out majorly. It really is one of Marvel's best efforts so no shock they want to ride that momentum in the parks and do a great job.
Could you imagine, MARVEL theme Park in Orlando.
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