In 2018, Marvel Studios will release “Black Panther” the studio’s first feature film to feature a non white actor. There have been many rumors as to who might be directing the film. There were talks about Ava DuVernay, director of the critically acclaimed “Selma” directing the film. She eventually pulled out due to what she felt were creative differences. Then there were talks about F. Gary Gray directing the film. Gray was in the running to direct, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” but pulled out so that he could focus on “Straight Outta Compton”. Once that film was released and was a critical and commercial success, his name shot straight to the top of people’s list to direct “Black Panther”. He also made a lot more sense as he was proven to be able to handle big studio projects before and was not new to an action movie. Eventually he was taken off of the list once he decided to direct the next entry in the “Fast & Furious” franchise.
It was clear that Marvel Studios was looking for a black director to helm this film. The studio was coming under much criticism for its lack of diversity, both in front of the camera and behind it as well. Many people would call foul for the studio hiring a white director for the film. Finally in late 2015, the movie “Creed” was released. The film was critically and commercially acclaimed. The director of the film, Ryan Coogler, quickly shot up on the list of choices to direct the “Black Panther” feature film.
Coogler has only two major feature films under his belt. The small film, “Fruitvale Station” based on the real life story of Oscar Grant and chronicles his final day before his untimely death. The film was critically acclaimed and earned a great deal of money considering it’s very small budget. His next film was, “Creed”, which is the latest installment in the “Rocky” movie franchise. “Creed” is a unique film as it is a something of a spin-off and sequel to the movies in the franchise and something of a remake to the very first “Rocky” movie. The film was a rousing success and in January of 2016, Marvel Studios officially announced Coogler as the director of their “Black Panther” feature film.
This is a triumph on many different sorts. This is not simply a diversity hire just to have a diversity hire. Coogler has proven that he is a talent. Both of his films have been introspective and character oriented, which helps leads to its acclaim as they are not shallow films. Part of the success of “Creed” was not only did it introduce a new character in the “Rocky” franchise but also showed a new side to the character of Rocky himself, which has led Sylver Stallone being nominated for numerous awards for his performance in the film. Coogler jumping into the franchise also showed that he can work within a studio and have numerous eyes on him, yet still be able to do his own thing. He has also shown that he can go from a tiny budget to a mid sized budget and his next film will be a large budget film and is a natural growth. Both films also feature predominantly non white casts, which is something that is essential considering “Black Panther” is the prince/king of an African nation.
Marvel Studios certainly scored with snagging Ryan Coogler to direct “Black Panther”. He is a director that could have chosen any project to do next, including a sequel to “Creed”, but instead chose to direct this film. No one knows how the film will turn out. However, with talent such as Coogler at the helm, one can expect an interesting take on Marvel’s first film featuring a person of color. February 16, 2018 is when “Black Panther” will be released into theaters and one expects great things from the Ryan Coogler directed film.