WHAT is today? Loads might say Valentine’s Day. But for sure, there are also a number of people who would say that it’s the first day of “Black Panther” showing in Philippine theaters.

Even star Lupita Nyong’o said the cast of “Black Panther” needs a support group in order to deal with fan hysteria over the first Marvel black superhero standalone film.

Nyong’o remembered how the internet started buzzing about the film the moment the trailer for “Black Panther” was released in the summer of 2017 when the hashtag #BlackPantherSoLIT trended. But actually, that hashtag was used in 2016 yet, even before Nyong’o was cast as Nakia. #BlackPantherSoLIT trended in May 2016 when Black Panther debuted on “Captain America: Civil War.”

“There was this #BlackPantherSoLit thing that was going on, and the memes and the gifs were so entertaining... All the ‘Coming to America’ references... It’s been so joyous,” the 34-year-old Oscar-winner remembered. “It was a moment where we were just like, ‘Oh my god. We need a support group to handle this!’ You know, the enthusiasm?”

And “Black Panther” is everywhere—from clothes to social media and more importantly, even in charitable activities like the Black Panther Challenge.

The initiative was started by New York philanthropist Frederick Joseph where he started a GoFundMe campaign to send Harlem children to watch “Black Panther.” He successfully raised $40,000 and counting. With the success of his local initiative, he then challenged other communities to do their own fundraising in order for children, who cannot afford to buy movie tickets, to watch the much-anticipated Marvel Cinematic Universe film.

According to the GoFundMe website, over 400 #BlackPantherChallenge campaigns have been started, which have raised more than $400,000.

“Donations have come in from all 50 states (in the US) and 40 countries around the world,” GoFundMe stated.

“It inspires us to do the same thing… You can make movies, but I don’t know what this is,” said Black Panther himself, Chadwick Boseman.

“Black Panther” also invaded the New York runway.

Marvel Studios sponsored a small Black Panther-inspired presentation, “Welcome to Wakanda,” on Monday, featuring designs by LaQuan Smith, Chromat, Wale Oyejide of the brand Ikire Jones, Fear of God and others, including the jewelry of Douriean Fletcher in a capsule collection.

Fletcher, based in Los Angeles, said she was hired by the film’s costume designer, Ruth E. Carter, to create some statement pieces for the superhero blockbuster.

Fletcher dreamed of creating “these really big ornate dresses and all these wearable art pieces, and Ruth said, ‘Hey, I have this opportunity. If I get it, I want you to come with me,’ and that’s what happened.”

Among Fletcher’s work in the highly anticipated film is a bold amethyst and 18-karat gold plate piece at the top of a costume worn by Angela Bassett’s Queen Ramonda. It’s featured in one of the movie’s posters. Fletcher also hand pounded gold-plate armor pieces for the female warriors of the Dora Milaje.

To say there’s buzz about the Ryan Coogler-directed film based on the character from the comic series is an understatement. Mania is more like it. Excited fans have said they plan to show up at theaters in African garb.

Smith has seen the movie and created a trench coat with a matching jumpsuit—both pieces covered entirely by black sequins—for the inspired-by collection.

“I wanted it to resonate with the idea of female empowerment, women that are strong,” he said. “I wanted to do something that was sexy and powerful and aggressive because there’s a lot of technology in the film.” Oyejide did a men’s suit with a coat and scarf. One of his scarves made it into the movie, which he said shows off the nuances of people of color. (AP & JGA)