DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” might as well be the theme music for Black Panther‘s box office journey. Ryan Coogler’s Marvel film is about to reach another milestone when it surpasses The Avengers‘ North American gross to become the highest-grossing superhero movie in the U.S.
To date, Black Panther has earned $618.6 million domestically ($1.2 billion worldwide), just short of The Avengers‘ $623.4 million. By the end of the weekend, Black Panther will surpass that number, according to estimates.
The film became a cultural phenomenon. Featuring a predominantly black cast, the live-action story of King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and the fictional African nation of Wakanda brought a new kind of hero not commonly seen in the comic book movie genre.
Black Panther enjoyed five straight weeks atop the box office charts that kicked off with a record-breaking opening weekend for the month of February. Word of mouth, critical praise, and all-star performances from the likes of Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, and Letitia Wright continued to boost the film’s presence in theaters.
“Deep down we all hoped that people would come to see a film about a fictional country on the continent of Africa, made up of a cast of people of African descent. Never in a million years did we imagine that you all would come out this strong,” Coogler wrote in a touching thank-you note to the fans.
“It still humbles me to think that people care enough to spend their money and time watching our film,” he continued. “But to see people of all backgrounds wearing clothing that celebrates their heritage, taking pictures next to our posters with their friends and family, and sometimes dancing in the lobbies of theaters often moved me and my wife to tears.”
Wakanda will also have a lasting impact on the storytelling of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with a sequel confirmed by Marvel President Kevin Feige. “As Panther has so loudly declared, [representation] can only help you, can only help you tell unique stories, can only help you do things in a new, and unique, and fresh, and exciting way,” he told EW. “If you do that, audiences will notice it, and appreciate it, and support it.”