“Black Panther” is set to dominate the box office when it opens President’s Day weekend, but it’s already made history when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The tentpole is the first MCU property to be led by a black superhero and to feature a predominately black cast. With “Fruitvale Station” and “Creed” director Ryan Coogler behind the camera, “Black Panther” is also the first MCU title to be directed by a black filmmaker. As Coogler and star Chadwick Boseman tell Variety, it was essential for “Black Panther” to have a director of color.
“Well, is it possible for [a white director] to make it? It could be, yes. Would they have [Coogler’s] perspective? Probably not,” Boseman said. “It wouldn’t be nuanced in the same way because they wouldn’t have the same conflict. They don’t have the African-American conflict that exists: Whether you’re conscious of it or not, you have an ancestry that is very hard to trace.”
Coogler echoed Boseman’s thoughts when he said the movies he likes most are “where the filmmaker has a personal connection to the subject matter.” The director noted how films like “The Godfather” and “Goodfellas” are directed by Italian-Americans and represent “the best movies that deal with Italian-American organized crime.”
“Show me a movie about Brooklyn better than ‘Do the Right Thing,'” Coogler added. “Do the Right Thing” director Spike Lee grew up in Brooklyn.
“For me, in retrospect, I realized a lot of what I deal with as an artist is with themes of identity,” Coogler continued. “I think it’s something common among African-Americans. For us, we’ve got a strange circumstance in terms of our view of ourselves.”
“Black Panther” is currently on track to open in the $150 million range, which would make it the biggest domestic debut for a black filmmaker in movie history. Should the superhero movie exceed $226 million at the box office, it will become the highest grossing film ever released in the U.S. by a black director. F. Gary Gray’s “The Fate of the Furious” currently holds the record.
“Black Panther” opens in theaters nationwide February 16.