I’m still waiting for an official announcement on this, but, in the meantime… courtesy of an interview with Empire Magazine, Marvel chief Kevin Feige all-but confirmed that Ryan Coogler, who was previously said to be in talks to direct the film, will indeed helm “Black Panther.” The actual interview isn’t available online, but if you subscribe to Empire Magazine, a British film magazine published monthly, you likely would’ve already read this. The folks at Polygon.com, courtesy of The Verge, first published the news. Here’s a snip: “In an interview with Empire Magazine, Feige said that the main reason they decided to bring the story of Black Panther forward was because of how influential his character would be on the upcoming Avengers films, ‘Infinity War — Part 1’ and ‘Infinity War — Part 2.’ The executive also added that Black Panther would be the first Marvel film to feature a majority black cast. Feige touched upon bringing director Ryan Coogler (‘Creed’) onboard and what that means for the film. He said that it was important they remained faithful to the comic and the character’s origins. ‘This one is important,’ Feige said. ‘Not only do you get an unbelievable lead character, but you also get all of Wakanda which is a whole new setting and culture to explore.’ When it came to the character’s placement in the Marvel Universe, Feige wouldn’t offer any more information on just how Black Panther’s storyline would affect the Avengers, but did provide a more in-depth look at what the character’s solo movie will include. ‘The movie is a big geopolitical action adventure that focuses on the family and royal struggle of T’Challa in Wakanda and what it means to be a king,’ Feige said.”
As I said in a recent post on this blog on “Creed’s” success, this makes sense! I said the same thing about F. Gary Gray after the immense global success of “Straight Outta Compton,” although he’s moved on to other projects.
It’s clear that Disney/Marvel wanted a black director for this – preferably a *hot* black director, given all the names that have been reportedly in the mix (rumored or otherwise) since the film was officially announced – including Ava DuVernay (coming off of “Selma”). And Coogler is certainly on fire right now following “Creed’s” solid reception at the box office, grossing close to $100 million thus far.
After “Compton’s” box office breakout, Gray seemed like the most obvious choice. But when he signed up to direct the next “Fast & Furious” movie – a project that will likely consume more than a year of his life – the likelihood of him also directing “Black Panther” (which is set for a February 2018 release, and which will also consume about 2 years of the chosen director’s life, and is in close proximity to production and release dates for “Fast & Furious”), Gray also directing “Black Panther” seemed much less likely.
So Ryan Coogler, given the critical and commercial success of “Creed,” seems like the most obvious choice here. He’s young and has a long career ahead of him (we hope anyway), so taking a couple of years to shepherd a blockbuster studio picture like “Black Panther” would be more attractive to him than a director in F. Gary Gray (for example) who’s almost 20 years older. There’s also the question of what kind of contract Marvel is offering, and whether it locks in the chosen director for multiple pictures, which may be undesirable to some, but less-so for others.
I’m certainly not privy to any insider information in this case, so I’m simply speculating. For now, we wait for an official announcement that Coogler has indeed be hired for the project.
The last report on this, which was about a month ago, said that Coogler was in “serious talks” to direct “Black Panther.”
Chadwick Boseman is already attached to star in the movie, although no other casting has been announced.
Further details aren’t available at this time, so stay tuned.