If you haven't gotten tickets yet, you might want to hurry.
The next entry in Marvel's box office-shattering series of superhero films is poised to be the biggest February opening of all time, with an estimated $120-$150 million weekend. But it wasn't just the success of 2008's "Iron Man" that paved the way for "Black Panther" to be the commercial success we're about to witness.
Here's five movies that you should see before watching "Black Panther."
If you haven't watched "Blade" in a while, I implore you to do so. The visual effects haven't exactly stood the test of time, but it's a lot of fun and the success of this film, along with its sequels, saved the comic book movie genre after director Joel Shumacher ruined DC's Batman.
In fact, "Blade" is a Marvel movie, so they've been dunking on DC a lot longer than the MCU has been around. But Blade's commercial success came as a surprise to some film executives. Speaking to Slate, the film's star Wesley Snipes reflected on the film's success.
There were others [in Hollywood] who thought that black people or black talent in film doesn’t sell internationally, doesn’t sell foreign, doesn’t sell in Japan. Blade comes out, and it blows up in Japan, despite the fact that the lead is a black guy. These were testaments to the lack of cultural awareness, intelligence about the world itself, the global landscape, and the appeal that African American culture has around the world.
Arguably this is still the mentality today, but with every "Black Panther" it becomes harder and harder to deny that audiences want good characters, not just white characters.
I'm not saying this is a good movie (it's not) but as far as comic book movies go, this was a ground breaker.
Michael Jai White's Spawn is the first portrayal of a major comic book super hero by an African American actor, but the trouble is that due to the character's A) disfigurement and B) costume, it's easy to forget it's White.
Also some of the comic's non-white actors were cast as white so that plaque is a little tarnished, but without "Spawn" we might not have "Black Panther." Gotta start somewhere.
I bet you forgot about this movie, didn't you? Well, it grossed about $624 million so you probably saw it.
This was an original super hero movie - a phrase so scarcely used that your phone would likely delete the word "original" automatically. Not only was this movie original, but it starred an African American actor, made a ton of money and came out the same year as "Iron Man." It was good, people liked it, and it came out when Marvel was starting to plan the next 100 years of summer blockbusters.
I like to think that when Marvel was talking about "Black Panther" and how this lesser-known comic character was going to fit into the MCU, that someone pointed to Hancock and said, "so what's the problem?" And then no one said anything and they moved forward. Why we don't get the sequel yet is beyond me.
"FRUITVALE STATION" (2013)
One of the best things you can do in preparation for "Black Panther" is familiarize yourself with the work of director Ryan Coogler.
His first film, "Fruitvale Station," won Grand Jury Prize as well as Audience Award at Sundance and sent its star Michael B. Jordan to the next level in his career.
Jordan and Coogler would collaborate again on the "Rocky" sequel "Creed," and Jordan appears now in "Black Panther." So if you're not yet on the Coogler and Jordan train, hop on now.
Oh, and while we're talking about the cast and crew, on "Black Panther," Coogler employed the work of female cinematographer Rachel Morrison, who just became the first woman ever nominated for the cinematography Oscar.
"CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR" (2016)
This one is a no-brainer. "Black Panther" follows the events of "Civil War," in which T'Challa returns to his homeland of Wakanda to take up his father's crown after the king's untimely death.
This is too big a movie to not have recapping information that you couldn't go in blind, but that important moments are between the father and son, where you can see the respect and love between the two and T'Challa's rage as he seeks vengeance against his father's killers. The character's arc starts in "Civil War," and if you want to see that pay off in its entirety, start here.
It's a blah movie otherwise, so you have my permission to fast forward a bit. Maybe stop for the Daniel Bruhl scenes because he's rad.
"Black Panther" is a defining moment for black America - a turning point in the Hollywood culture of white-washing and stereotypes, and an exhale after fighting the major studios' misconception about audiences that began in the mid 90s. So go see it, and maybe more importantly, go see the next one, and the one after that.
Check out more stories on Circa:
Marvel Studios brings Black Panther to New York Fashion Week
A Black Panther pop up bar is coming to DC
Weekend box office: 'Fifty Shades Freed' dominates, as Black Panther' looms