Black Panther, Marvel's first black superhero, has been a box office record-breaker with its first solo movie adaptation, earning $426 Million since its release last Friday, and gaining a 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
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Although comic book sales are not always a good forecast for motion pictures, this success must feel like a huge vindication for Marvel's former Editor in Chief, Axel Alonso, who departed the company last November after holding the position for 6 years. During his time, Alonso pushed for diversity, being the son of immigrants himself, however his decisions of adding more female, black and gay characters, didn't go smoothly. Marvel's SVP of Sales, David Gabriel, was heavily criticized last year for claiming that the public doesn't want to see diversity and that sales were suffering from the new creative strategies in the company.
After Alonso's departure, Marvel named C. B. Cebulski as the new Editor in Chief, who has been an international executive for the company for many years. Cebulski has now returned to the companies' headquarters in New York to fill in his new position, and we are yet to see how diversity-emblem-successes like Black Panther, and rival DC Entertainment's Wonder Woman, influence the artistic direction he will give to the franchises he now commands.
Not surprisingly the most critically acclaimed character of the movie is a black young woman. Shuri, Black Panther's genius teen sister, is now expected to have its own comic book series. But given the tension inside Marvel's management around diversity, this will definitively be a move from Cebulski the entire industry will be watching.
Marvel Entertainment was acquired by The Walt Disney Company back in 2009, and since then it has hushed critics that claimed the $4 Billon deal had been an over pay, with stock now valued over $100, five times what it was worth before this deal and the Pixar and ESPN deals that followed. Diversification has paid off for Disney, that has seen its revenues double, but keeping up with the changes in an increasingly diversity-conscious audience will dictate if this winning streak is maintained.
For all the new Black Panther fans, we recommend you to check this out to complement the movie, happy reading!
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