UPDATE: Marvel.com has confirmed that Ryan Coogler will direct Black Panther, and we are ecstatic about it. Read the original news post below.
When you say “Black Panther” to most in the general public, a Marvel Comics superhero is not in the forefront of people’s minds. Matter of fact, one of the first things that come to mind is an image from the 1968 Olympics of men raising a black gloved fist. It was called the “Black Power Salute,” and it was a symbol of the Black Panthers, which was a social justice group that militantly defended minorities in a post-segregation America. Segregation was made illegal in 1954, and the Black Panthers were formed in 1966. However, almost half a century later we still deal with the backlash on many fronts, to which Hollywood is no exception. From UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report, Jessica Chastain’s Critics Choice Awards acceptance speech, GLAAD’s Annual Diversity Report, Viola Davis’s Emmy Award acceptance speech, the creation of the Gina Davis Institute on Gender and Media, Shonda Rhimes’ attempt to make more diverse television, or any of the countless other attempts to quantify or correct the problem, there is one thing for certain…Hollywood is one of the fronts which still struggle with diversity and equality for minorities. So what do we do about it? When I was a young and budding geek, I always had the same answer for problems; send in a superhero! Well, Marvel Comics seems to have a similar idea. Because that’s exactly what they are doing in 2018 with the expected release of the Marvel Comics superhero film Black Panther.
The release date of Marvel Studios’s first black superhero film is rumored to be July 6, 2018. Today it was confirmed that Ryan Coogler is in talks to direct the project. Mr. Coogler is best known for his work writing and directing in both CREED and FRUITVALE STATION. He has won numerous awards including but not limited to: 2014 Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature, 2014 Honorary Satellite Award, 2013 Un Certain Avenir Prize Award, 2013 Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Director, 2013 New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best First Film, & the 2013 Producers Guild of America Stanley Kramer Award. So, as you can see, the project would be in pretty fantastic hands. Besides an award winning black director, allegedly, Wakanda would makeup a large portion of it’s backdrop, introducing us to a culture and setting which is non-traditional for superheroes. Lastly, there is mention that the film will feature a majority black cast. I don’t know about any of you guys, but this is the first time that I’ve heard of a huge studio like Marvel doing a primarily black/minority film with a black/minority director.
That being said, I would say that Marvel has consistently had their pulse on the issue of diversity, and continues to produce projects which can only be described as inclusive. “A-Force” features an all female Avengers cast co-led by She-Hulk, the Native American superhero Red-Wolfe will be relaunched, Hulk will be relaunched as an Asian American, the iconic Captain America’s shoes were filled by an African American man, Thor’s hammer was picked up by a woman, Wolverine’s claws can be seen on a female clone, X-Man Northstar married his longtime boyfriend, boyfriends Hulkling and Wiccan are featured in their book, and Ms. Marvel now stars a Muslim-American as the Super-heroine. That’s just a few of the things cooking at Marvel Comics. However, it’s their huge multi million dollar studio that I feel is making their biggest statement, and is taking on Hollywood’s diversity problem with a giant power packed punch that only a royal Wakandian can administer. I believe that with this next wave, Marvel Studios is making it’s first stand. It’s first stand in a wave of others which will deliver a message. One which tells us that there is an entire world full of all types of people who are different colors, shapes, sizes, sexes, religions, sexual orientations, sexual identities, cultures, and creeds. But most of all, They are sending their superheroes to protect us and usher us into a new dawn. Very similar to the Black Panthers of the 60s, they send us a Black Panther of this era. And this film is the studio holding it’s fist up high in support.