A Marvel Movie Opening Night Experience: ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’

Opening night of ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ highlighted every beautiful aspect of what it truly means to be a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe


Marvel movie opening nights haven’t been the same since the 10-year leadup to the two-film event of “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame.” The culture of having to be one of the first to see a Marvel film stems largely from the world’s obsession with social media and the people’s desire to avoid “FOMO” (fear of missing out). Nowadays, if you don’t see the film on opening night and are a frequent social media user, dodging spoilers is practically impossible. Even in 2019 upon the release of “Avengers: Endgame,” directors Anthony and Joe Russo curated the hashtag “#Don’tSpoilTheEndgame” in order to avoid this phenomenon. Did it work? Not really, but it’s the thought that counts. 

This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending both Thursday’s early preview and Friday’s opening night of Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” This movie marks a big shift in the narrative for the Black Panther films, which follows a new story after the passing of actor Chadwick Boseman, who played King T’Challa, in 2020. The film beautifully highlights the confrontation of grief felt not only by the characters of the film but also the fans of the franchise. Director Ryan Coogler tackles this topic with grace and respect, truly allowing the spirit of the late Chadwick Boseman to shine through and emphasizing the importance of the passing of a mantle. 

As a long-time fan of the franchise — particularly the Black Panther films — I was basking in the intoxicating, loving energy of the fans surrounding me. This particular Marvel film means a lot to fans everywhere, as everyday we continue to mourn the brilliant actor and human whose character carried the titular mantle in the first film. Many were wearing their favorite Marvel merchandise — some even donning Black Panther cosplays. AMC also had Black Panther-themed popcorn buckets for purchase if you forgot your own merch or just wanted a momento. (The popcorn buckets sold out at the early showing, by the way.) 

At both showings I attended, the energy at the theater was high and beautiful. This feeling is mainly what draws me to attending opening nights. As much as it is to avoid spoilers, the biggest factor behind my need to be present at these types of events is the pure abundance of serotonin felt in one place at one time. Marvel fans get these opening weekend releases as an excuse to be around other people who understand their passion. 

Every exciting scene is met with an audience reaction, which further bridges the connection between the fan and the group of strangers with whom they are viewing the film. And as the film credits roll, we all get to anxiously wait in anticipation of the foreshadowing, mysterious nature of the post-credit scene. It truly feels like a new-wave ritual. 

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is now playing in theaters everywhere in IMAX, 4DX, Dolby, Digital and 3D.