Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s Opening Further Cements That Right Now, There’s No Real DC/Marvel Rivalry

Almost every box office analyst knew going into the previous weekend that Ryan Coogler’s highly anticipated Marvel sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was going to be number one on the weekend charts. The question basically was, “How much, in total, was this blockbuster going to earn?” And the answer turned out to be, “A lot.” Wakanda Forever banked $180 million domestically and $330 million worldwide in its opening frame. This was slightly less than the $187 million earned by Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness during its opening weekend (per BoxOfficeMojo), but more than Thor: Love and Thunder took home in the same frame ($144.1M). Bottom line, it’s been a very good year for Marvel Studios… but one accomplishment notched by Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had me feeling really bad for their purported rivals over at DC Films.

Following the box office numbers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, The Rock – proving again to be a total class act – tweeted the following congratulations to the sequel that just kicked Black Adam’s ass up and down the charts.  

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And Dwayne Johnson is right. Moviegoers heading back to the movies, be it for Black Panther or Black Adam, is good news for the film industry. Theaters need movies that are going to lure mainstream crowds back, so that the exhibition business can thrive, audiences can support them, and feature films will have a home from here to eternity. But hidden inside The Rock’s congratulatory Tweet was a truth I didn’t expect… and it helped prove the fact that the Marvel/DC rivalry – at least at the box office – exists only in the heads of fans who aren’t paying attention. 

Dora Milaje attack in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Outgrossed Black Adam’s Entire Domestic Box Office In Just Three Days

Let that sink in for a moment. DC’s Black Adam film starred a celebrity who’s so famous his cheat meals are considered news. It did well at the box office, given the fact that it was tasked with introducing a character precious few casual comic book fans knew. But as of Monday, November 14, DC Films’ Black Adam movie had earned a grand total of $151.1 million at the domestic box office. 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever raced past that figure in three days.

It was almost more significant than that. Currently, Black Adam is doing better overseas than it did in the U.S., earning $201 million in international territories for a grand total of $352M worldwide. Black Panther just missed topping that total, as well, in its opening weekend. The preliminary Wakanda Forever numbers have the sequel’s worldwide box office tally at $330 million… so, a bit shy of Black Adam’s current global take. But again, that’s after three days of screenings. Black Adam has been in theaters since October 21.

Comparing the two movies side by side isn’t fair. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a sequel to an incredibly popular MCU movie that audiences knew was also going to be a tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman. And Black Adam created the most buzz because of a 10-second cameo in its closing credits. But looking at the two studios, you can see these battles tipping in Marvel’s favor for the immediate future. 

deadpool

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Marvel’s Upcoming Slate Is Stronger Than DC’s Current Plan

Audiences respond well to familiarity. That’s part of the reason why the three sequels released by Marvel Studios in 2022 performed well, and why Matt Reeves’ The Batman outperformed Black Adam. Sequels and reboots tend to draw crowds, while positive reviews and strong word of mouth help new characters like The Guardians of the Galaxy or Shang-Chi find an audience (or doom the Eternals to obscurity). 

Glancing at the slate of Upcoming Marvel Movies, sequels to hit films will remain the name of the game in 2023 and 2024. The studio’s Phase 5 kicks off with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which – according to that trailer – will take a deep dive into the Quantum Realm and re-introduce Kang the Conqueror (or some version of him). From there, we have a third Guardians of the Galaxy film, a joining of forces between Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel, the fourth Captain America film (this time with Anthony Mackie wielding the shield), and a Deadpool movie that is bringing back Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. Damn!

As for upcoming DC Films? They do have anticipated sequels in James Wan’s Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, and a Joker sequel from Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix. But they’re also rolling out The Flash, which carries with it a lot of behind-the-scenes drama surrounding Ezra Miller. And finally, a Blue Beetle movie starring Cobra Kai standout Xolo Mariduena, who I think would also tell you that he’s not as popular as The Rock. Some of those could do very well at the box office. And some of them could meet serious resistance. 

But it’s not all doom and gloom for DC Films, and here’s why. 

Jason Momoa in Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Why There’s Hope For DC Films

It can’t be stressed enough that the change of leadership at the top for DC Films means there is a stability – both creatively and financially – which the studio hasn’t had for some time. Putting James Gunn and Peter Safran in charge of DC Films should, in theory, help put the studio back on the right track. And from the news that has broken already since they took over, it’s already pleasing the actors who matter. Jason Momoa claims that he has a “dream project” at DC Films that Gunn is going to help bring to fruition. And again, there is the news that Henry Cavill is back in the DCU (though we don’t know what type of project he’ll appear in next). 

I’m also confident that having Gunn at the top of the DC Films pyramid will help protect the visions of filmmakers (because he is one himself), and possibly lead to the release of the fabled Ayer Cut of David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, something fans have been pushing for online and which Gunn has acknowledged as a possibility

Now, keep in mind that there have been rumors of a complete reset at DC Films, which would create an opportunity for recasting in all of the major roles, possibly leading to Elseworld creations like Matt Reeves’ Batman universe and Todd Phillips’ approach to the Joker. DC Films seems ready to turn a corner and start running at full speed. But the speed with which Black Panther: Wakanda Forever outgrossed Black Adam, it’s clear that DC will live in Marvel’s shadow for the foreseeable future. 

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.