It turns out the rumors may indeed have been true. Earlier this fall, word surfaced that filmmaker Ryan Coogler—the director behind the deeply emotional Sundance pic Fruitvale Station—was being pursued by Marvel to take the helm of the studio’s Black Panther. The pick made sense on Marvel’s part as Coogler’s next film, the Rocky spinoff Creed, was gaining some buzz, but it was unclear if Coogler would say “yes”. Now, according to Birth.Movies.Death, Coogler has engaged in talks to direct Marvel’s first superhero movie with a person of color as its namesake.
Coogler is, of course, coming off the smashing success of Creed. The film has been a huge hit with critics and audiences alike, and after a strong Thanksgiving opening, the film looks to have strong legs as the holiday season continues. So really this is a huge get for Marvel, as Coogler has no doubt been fielding offers to direct a number of other high profile projects given how artfully he steered this engaging, passionate addition to the Rocky franchise that very much stands on its own.
The deal hasn’t yet closed so it’s possible it won’t work out, but this would be very good news for Marvel Studios if Coogler signs on. Somewhat ironically, Coogler is a close friend of Selma director Ava DuVernay, who entered early talks with Marvel to take the helm of Black Panther earlier this year before backing out. She candidly explained that she realized Black Panther wouldn’t necessarily be an “Ava DuVernay movie,” and so she and the studio opted to amicably part ways.
The comics character hails from Wakanda, a fictional African nation where Panther—aka T’Challa—is part of the royal family. The Marvel Studios iteration of the character has already been cast with 42 star Chadwick Boseman, who makes his debut with a supporting role in Marvel’s April release Captain America: Civil War that most certainly sets up his own feature film, which is on Marvel’s slate for February 16, 2018.
As a big fan of Coogler’s work with both Fruitvale and Creed I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the Marvel universe. Here’s hoping he’s given enough creative freedom to make Black Panther his own while still coloring within Marvel’s lines. Coogler’s aesthetic is incredibly grounded and real, so I’m hoping he at least gets to bring his own cinematographer in on the picture—assuming this deal closes, that is.
What do you think, folks? Is Coogler a good choice for Black Panther? Did you like how he handled a previously existing property in Creed? Sound off in the comments below.