'I am struggling to find the words to express my gratitude at this moment but I will try.'
"Black Panther" director Ryan Coogler is still coming to terms with the response to his film.
When you make a Marvel superhero movie, it's a safe bet people will come out to see it. That said, we've never seen anything like the reaction to "Black Panther," a film with a predominantly black cast set in a fictional African nation and not focused on one of Marvel's leading characters.
The nearly universal praise for the film struck a nerve with director Ryan Coogler, who wrote a heartfelt message of gratitude that he shared with fans on Twitter:
"I am struggling to find the words to express my gratitude at this moment but I will try," Coogler wrote, first thanking his cast and filmmaking crew for their contributions.
He thanked fans of all backgrounds for celebrating African culture.
Much of the attention paid to "Black Panther" has been on its massive box-office haul — and understandably so. However, what's even more amazing is the sense of unity the film has created with fans. The creative freedom granted to Coogler by Disney and Marvel to craft his own vision clearly extended across the culture, something Coogler noted in his letter:
"Never in a million years did we imagine that you all would come out this strong. It still humbles me to think that people care enough to spend their money and time watching our film — 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 — moved me and my wife to tears."
Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr.
Right now, the future seems limitless for Coogler, who is only 31 years old and has already made three iconic films.
"Black Panther" is just the third film for Coogler, who first burst on the scene with his powerful drama "Fruitvale Station," which starred "Black Panther" co-star Michael B. Jordan. The pair reunited two years later for "Creed," a spinoff sequel in the "Rocky" film series that won over critics and performed above expectations at the box office. That helped set up Coogler's involvement with "Black Panther."
At this point, it's likely he could pretty much do any project he wanted, though his only formally announced follow-up is a much smaller affair: telling the true story of an Atlanta teacher who takes a questionable path to secure more funding for his students. That film, "Wrong Answer," reportedly will also star Jordan.
Black Panther co-star Michael B. Jordan. Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr.
The outpouring of support for "Black Panther" shows that Coogler's vision is hitting the right note for audiences throughout the world.
It's incredibly rare these days for any individual piece of content to strike a chord with so many viewers for so many reasons. With numerous competing outlets, even successful films, music, and books rarely reach more than a small fraction of the population. "Black Panther" shows that people can still come together to celebrate diverse stories, rich with meaning and a message of hope.