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It's a very exciting weekend for fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Today brings the official debut of Ryan Coogler's Black Panther, which will help expand the shared universe into the fictional country of Wakanda. After making a splash with his MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War, Chadwick Boseman is leading a fantastic cast of mostly black actors, and early reception for the film is almost universally positive. It was originally unclear how the less popular hero would fare at the box office, but it's becoming clear that there's a reason why Black Panther is king. The blockbuster made a whopping $25 million with its Thursday previews.

With $25 million coming in on just Thursday night alone, it looks like the Ryan Coogler's blockbuster should expect a massive haul of money by the time it retires from theaters. And with so many cinephiles unable to see Black Panther until this weekend, the opening night performance is just the tip of the money iceberg. As such, we should expect Black Panther to continue becoming a bigger part as the MCU plans past Phase Three.

To give some context for the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Thursday opening hauls, Black Panther actually made a significant more money than the shared universe's most recent outings. Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok made an impressive $14.5 million, which grew as word of mouth helped spread news of the threequel. Spider-Man: Homecoming accrued $15 million, despite it being a far more popular character than Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa.

Deadline's report for Black Panther's Thursday night opening puts the new blockbuster in the top tier of Marvel openings. It's currently tied with Captain America: Civil War, for the second-highest opening night in MCU history. Sitting at first place is Avengers: Age of Ultron with $27.6M. Both of those films are massive ensemble projects, so it makes Black Panther's opening performance even more impressive.

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Black Panther is a game changer for the modern superhero franchise, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. In the past few years, there has been a ton of conversations revolving around proper representation and inclusion in film. While the original Avengers team was made up of white dudes (and ScarJo's Black Widow), the shared universe has been making steps toward being a more diverse place. Phase Three welcomes the first black protagonist with Black Panther, and will have female stars with both Captain Marvel and Ant-Man & The Wasp.

The significance around Black Panther's release is no doubt what is influencing its strong opening box office performance. Considering how positive reviews and reception for the film has been, word of mouth should may help the blockbuster become one of the most successful MCU movies so far.

RELATED: How Black Panther Went About Changing One Of Its Potentially Offensive Characters

Black Panther is in theaters now. Be sure to check out our 2018 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

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