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The rumors surrounding who will direct Marvel’s long-awaited superhero flick can finally be put to rest. After months of speculation and multiple new directors up for the role, Marvel confirmed that director Ryan Coogler will take on the fictional Wakandan superhero. After acclaimed Selma director Ava DuVernay passed on Marvel’s initial offer to sit in the director’s chair, the questioned who would do the feature film justice. Although Coogler is a relatively new name to Hollywood, the director has received plenty of acclaim and respect for his work on Fruitvale Station and shorts Locks, Fig, and The Sculptor. With all these accolades and Coogler’s recent success with the Oscar-nominated Rocky franchise spin-off/sequel Creed, Marvel’s Black Panther has the potential to become one of the cinematic universe’s best superhero adaptations yet.
The news comes at a bit of a pleasant surprise for comic book and Coogler fans alike. The Black Panther will be the director’s first attempt at putting his own unique spin on the superhero genre phenomena. Once Marvel’s Kevin Feige confirmed the news, the world responded with nothing but excitement and interest in what the young and talented director had to bring to the table. Since the flick is not scheduled to hit theaters until July 6, 2018, the plot is still a mystery to fans.
When it comes to the big screen, The Black Panther could go in any direction with the multiple storylines that the character has been involved within. First appearing in the pages of Fantastic Four in 1966 (predating the inception of the political Black Panther party) as King T’Challa of the fictional nation of Wakanda in Africa, the Panther was Marvel’s first black superhero to make it onto the pages of mainstream American comics. The character is not only a king, but possesses genius intellect and keen fighting skills that he has used to best some of Marvel’s lead heroes.
Following his appearance, Black Panther bested the Fantastic Four team within a technically advanced jungle of his own making. The character later moved from solo hero to member of the Avengers in 1968. Following Panther’s popularity, he later appeared in his own solo comic book series in 1977, written by co-creator Jack Kirby. Taking on multiple villains like Klaw, Grim Reaper, Mephisto, Baron Zemo, and many more. Including multiple stand-alone series, the character was also seen in the pages of Captain America, X-Men, Daredevil, and several major cross-over story arcs. With such a vast amount of background story and villains, there is no shortage of plot Coogler could dig into to make The Black Panther one of Marvel’s best films yet.
More than just a superhero that brings more diversity to the Marvel comic book pages and, eventually, the cinematic universe, but The Black Panther film has the potential to be both sociopolitical and an entertaining action flick. Exploring more of the real life issues throughout a foreign hero of color could face in a modern world, this film could bring in some a dimension that the Marvel cinematic universe has yet to include on race, family, lineage, and adding in some incite about what is going in other parts of the world.
The pressure is definitely on for Coogler to deliver a great representation for such an iconic character. Considering that Black Panther has been part of the Marvel universe for over five decades and Marvel’s first lead role for a black actor in a feature film, it is only right that the character make an outlasting appearance and not just follow a formulated plot of shallow dialogue leading into a large final act fight scene with some creatively-challenged big bad.
Considering that one of Panther’s prominent villains’ Klaw (Ulysses Klaue) was already introduced in the latest Avengers‘ sequel and has already been reported to star in the film, Coogler could dig a little deeper into the backstory of the two characters. Some explanation could go into how Klaw managed to escape with only a brand on his body for stealing Wakanda’ prized metal Vibranium. Coogler could also loosely relate Klaws’ theft and exploitation of the nation’s wealth to the history of imperialism in Africa and the blood diamond trading that still plagues many of its countries.
Though the history lessen might be a stretch for Marvel’s core audience of young adult to adolescents, it would be a first for the industry to introduce to the cinematic universe and make The Black Panther stand out for more than just a black actor in a lead role. Regardless of the direction that Coogler will take with his latest project, only time will tell just how great the movie will be and if it has the potential to become one of Marvel’s best superhero films yet.
Opinion By Tyler Cole
IMDB: The Black Panther
Comicbook: Marvel Confirms Creed Director Ryan Coogler Is Directing Black Panther
Images Courtesy of Marvel Worldwide, Inc.