Black Panther won't serve as a direct prequel to Avengers: Infinity War. The film will officially cement Chadwick Boseman as the newest power player in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and along with him a whole country full of interesting people just waiting for their time under the spotlight.
The movie’s pre-release ticket sales are going well, and even outpacing Captain America: Civil War, proving people’s eagerness to immediately see what the flick is all about. But the buzz that surrounds the flick is bigger than its Marvel branding as it's expected to have a huge effect in terms of social awareness and proper representation in media. So far, Black Panther‘s box office projections suggest that it is expected to nab $120 million during its opening weekend, an amount that surpasses Spider-Man: Homecoming's $117 million record for a debut solo film.
SR's recent visit to the set of Black Panther revealed that Marvel Studios did not ask director Ryan Coogler to make his film in a way that it will directly set-up Infinity War. Timeline-wise, it would've made sense, but producer Nate Moore says that while the flick will serve its purpose in the overall franchise, it will also work well as a standalone with its own self-contained story:
SR: "Scott Derrickson talked a lot about the freedom that he had on Doctor Strange and getting to just tell a Doctor Strange story that happened to be in the MCU. Obviously this is a little more linked to the MCU coming out of Civil War. How interlinked with the MCU is it and how much does that dictate what you’re able to do with the story?"
Moore: "I think it’s inherently linked because of the Civil War connections and because of the Ultron connections with Klaue. So there are strings that we are playing with. But again, much like Doctor Strange, we felt this had enough storytelling that it could stand alone beyond those things. We wanted to give Ryan the freedom to tell a story that wasn’t relying on other things that were happening in the MCU. Now that doesn’t mean what happens in the film won’t have ripples in the MCU but the film itself isn’t relying on other plot points in the MCU."
While Coogler was not given a clear roadmap to follow in his film, in Feige's blueprint, Wakanda is already going to be a huge part of Infinity War. The trailer for the ensemble flick has indicated as much with the fictional country being the backdrop of what seems to be a huge action set piece including several of the original Avengers alongside T'Challa's men. It's not entirely clear why it's being attacked by an army of Outriders, creatures from Thanos' invasion force. A popular theory is that it will be where the last unfound gem - the Soul Stone - is being kept which offers some sense as to why the Mad Titan is singling out the nation.
In hindsight, Black Panther doesn't really need to set-up Infinity War any further. More than a dozen prior MCU films have already done that. What it has to do is establish a new hero that people can get behind, as he will be a pivotal game player down the line for the MCU after its principal heroes have retired. His home country of Wakanda has long been part of the franchise and was first an Easter Egg in Iron Man 2. The mere existence of Captain America's shield (which is made of Vibranium) is further proof that it has always been there, just waiting to be explored. Coogler's film promises a deep dive into the hidden country, especially its cultural and political dynamics, both within its borders and outside of it.
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