When Marvel’s next Avengers movie is released this May, Nollywood fans will have an extra reason to get excited about the franchise blockbuster.
Funke Akindele, one of the biggest stars in Nigeria’s Nollywood movie industry, has been listed among the full cast of the Avengers: Infinity War on IMDb, the movie database website owned by Amazon. Akindele is currently listed to play a role as a member of Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s all-female special forces unit from the Black Panther comics. Avengers: Infinity War is scheduled for release on May 4, 2018. A sequel is planned for May 3, 2019.
Right now it seems likely Akindele will make the final cut of the movie. Even if it ends up being a minor role relative to her Nollywood superstar status it would still be a major breakthrough for the homegrown movie industry which has blossomed rapidly in recent years.
Avengers 4 is a climax of sorts after a decade of build-up in Marvel’s earlier movies and will be released nearly 10 years to the day when Iron Man, the first movie in Marvel’s cinematic Avengers universe, debuted. It will see several superheroes from different franchises which are part of the cinematic universe appear together in a movie for the first time. As such, Akindele will star alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest names including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Don Cheadle, Zoe Saldana and Chris Pratt.
Lagos-born Akindele will not be the first Avengers connection to Africa’s largest city. In 2016’s Captain America Civil War, there was a prominent fight scene set in the chaos of Lagos. And there was some bemusement by Nigerians with the American pronunciation of Lagos as “Lah-gos”.
Akindele certainly knows something about being part of a popular and successful franchise. In 2008, she starred in Jenifa, a comedy about a young uneducated lady living in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city. It turned out to be a massive hit and she snagged the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance. A sequel followed in 2012 and, in 2014, Jenifa’s Diary, a spin-off TV series debuted as well.
Last year, Marvel’s three movies—Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Raganarok and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2—jointly earned more than $2 billion with each movie notching $100 million openings—a record for the most $100 million openings in a single year for US production houses. Avengers: Infinity War is likely to continue that strong box office run. The trailer has already racked up over 113 million views since it was released at the end of November.