A very valid criticism of the MCU before Phase Three was that it has spent its time on its heroes to the detriment of its villains. It’s a testament to how well-cast and developed the heroes have been because a lot of Marvel’s villains have been forgettable at best. Beginning with Zemo in Captain America: Civil War, you began to see three-dimensional baddies, building to Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger in Black Panther. The best villains are convinced they’re right in what they’re doing and are either charismatic enough to convince the audience that they are justified in their actions or have legitimate points that they’ve taken to unacceptable extremes. Killmonger forces T’Challa out of his comfort zone and makes him face uncomfortable truths about the past of his family and the policies of his country. He’s lethal, driven, but also completely understandable and sympathetic.
Halfway through 2018, Black Panther is probably still the best film of the year-to-date. 2018 has been jammed full of unwarranted sequels and anemic remakes. This is, in all likelihood, the worst year for film in my lifetime. Without the MCU, I can’t even imagine how sick I’d be of the theater. Issue #20 releases this weekend with Ant-Man and the Wasp, and it can’t arrive soon enough. Marvel’s success this year has been astounding. The last two MCU films (Black Panther & Avengers: Infinity War) are the #3 and #4 highest grossing films of all-time in the US. That’s a staggering achievement and testimony to how trusted the quality of the MCU has become in a time where even the most reliable franchises have started to sputter out.