Avengers: Infinity War uses the previous eighteen movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to craft one of the biggest blockbuster stories ever, but the success of the most recent previous entry, Black Panther, actually hurts its Wakandan-set third act.
Black Panther smashed records when it opened in February. The cultural significance of the film cannot be overstated, nor can its fantastic release window, which saw the film run for over a month with little competition. As a result, Black Panther had tremendous legs and currently sits at a stupendous $688 million. Even opposite Infinity War's record-breaking opening, Black Panther still managed to rake in $4.7 million for a solid fifth-place finish, all in its eleventh weekend of release. A final domestic total over $700 million is very much in the cards for Black Panther.
Considering Black Panther's phenomenal success among both Marvel fans and newcomers to the comic book movie scene, some came away from Avengers: Infinity War with a certain level of disappointment regarding the limited use of its setting and characters. Of course, unlike the MCU's solo films, Avengers movies are massive team-up events; there is no obvious lead hero (and in Infinity War the lead is actually villain Thanos). Still, many viewers, particularly those who were drawn into the franchise by Black Panther, were expecting to see more of their favorite hero, especially since his presence, and his home of Wakanda, was a central pillar of the film's marketing campaign.
Avengers: Infinity War Marketed Itself Too Much On Black Panther
It's to Marvel's credit that they had the foresight when filming Avengers (which happened concurrently with Black Panther) to include a strong amount of Wakandan locations and characters in a way the felt organic. A crucial facet to the success of the original Avengers was that it brought all these disparate heroes together into an ensemble cast; it wasn't "Iron Man & The Avengers," it was "The Avengers", even though at that point Tony Stark was the clear franchise favorite. Likewise, Infinity War uses characters and settings when they serve the story.
In this case, it means that Wakanda and isn't introduced until roughly the halfway point of the movie, and T'Challa doesn't don his iconic armor until the final act of the film, during the big outdoor battle to protect Vision from The Black Order and their army of Outriders. Normally, this wouldn't be such a big deal, except the inclusion of Wakanda, as mentioned earlier, was a key component in the marketing for Infinity War. Trailers focused on the team-up battle, with shots of Captain America fighting Thanos in a grassy Wakandan forest making clear it was going to be an essential backdrop. However, there was also focus but on the characters audiences had just fallen for.
Basically, the film was marketed three ways: first, as Thanos' emergence from the shadows on a mission of universal conquest; second, as an Avengers reunion following their dissolution in Captain America: Civil War; and third, as a continuation of Black Panther. All three of these are correct, but the first two are far more prominent in the final film, while the third is relatively minor in comparison. This doesn't hurt Infinity War when stood on its own but highlights how the success of its predecessor looms large.
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