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Looking back at it, Marvel's Black Panther might seem like the most obvious success story. The first Black superhero to lead a film within the already massive Marvel Cinematic Universe will clearly appeal to a segment of the audience that wants to see exactly that. However, the mere fact that such a movie had not been seen before might lead some to wonder if success was possible. But apparently Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger was never worried.
Bob Iger's new book The Ride of a Lifetime details the lesson's he has learned as the Chief Executive Officer of the Walt Disney Company. In that book he says that there were those within Marvel Studios who didn't think a Black Panther movie would be successful, but on Good Morning America, Iger explained that he was never one of those people, saying...
Making Black Panther, it’s interesting because you asked whether I lost sleep, that I definitely didn’t lose sleep over. I did not think that was a risk. I believed strongly in the need to tell stories involving more diverse people and essentially telling stories that better reflect the world we live in – that’s a far more diverse world than ever before. It was time we made a superhero film, a Marvel film, starring a black character with a predominantly black cast.
Of course, the fact that Black Panther was a Marvel Studios film probably went a long way to alleviating any potential worry about the movie's success. By the time Black Panther was in production, the MCU was a legitimate force in entertainment. Pretty much every movie that came out in the franchise was a hit.
It's one thing to not believe that making Black Panther was a risk, but it's likely even the CEO didn't foresee the cultural moment that the movie would become. In 2018, everybody likely came into the year knowing what the highest grossing movie of the year would be. Avengers: Infinity War was the first part of a massive event that would bring every member of the already popular Marvel Cinematic Universe together. However, even that massive film fell to Black Panther at the domestic box office.
However, outside of the film's financial success, Bob Iger says that he ultimately felt that Black Panther was simply an important movie to be made, and seeing the movie with an audience filled him with pride for the work that the studio, the cast, and crew, had done...
One of the highest moments, maybe the moment I felt more pride than ever before was bringing Black Panther out and showing it to the world. I remember being at the premiere and showing it, for the first time, to an audience… just feeling such a strong sense of pride and accomplishment. Not necessarily for me, but for the company, for Marvel, and for Ryan Coogler.
Check Out Bob Iger's full appearance on GMA below.
Bob Iger's new book The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company is out now.