The Marvel Cinematic Universe has quickly become one of the biggest franchises in all of Hollywood, bringing in billions of box office dollars and completely revolutionizing how competing studios plan out their tentpole series. And even though the MCU has a plethora of fans, it’s certainly not without its controversy. As the franchise grows in stature, many moviegoers have pointed out that the projects are lacking in regards to diversity.
All of the MCU films have starred white men and have been directed by white men. To Marvel’s credit, they do seem to be amending this issue, with films like Ant-Man and the Wasp and Black Panther coming through the pipeline. And when it comes to the latter, there’s been much discussion as the whether or not the studio’s black superhero-led feature should also be helmed by a black director.
Names like Ava DuVernay (Selma) and F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) have previously been connected to Black Panther, with Creed helmsman Ryan Coogler becoming the latest rumored name. Marvel seems to be making a concentrated effort to find a black director for the film, but is that the right move? Anthony Mackie, who plays Sam Wilson/Falcon in the MCU, had some interesting thoughts on the matter.
Speaking with The Daily Beast, Mackie stressed that it’s more important to find the director who will be the best fit for the movie, regardless of ethnicity:
“I don’t think it’s important at all. As a director your job is to tell a story. You know, they didn’t get a horse to direct Seabiscuit! The thing is I don’t think the race of the director has to do with their ability to tell a story. I think it’s all about the director’s ability to be able to relate to that story and do it justice. I think men can direct women, and two of my greatest work experiences were with female directors. So I think it all depends. May the best man—or woman—win.”
First and foremost, Marvel’s priority will be to make the strongest film they can – meaning that any filmmaker of any race or gender should be considered for Black Panther, before any final decision is made. However, while Mackie makes a good point in that regard, it’s worth noting that Marvel isn’t going to hire a black director for as important a project as T’Challa’s first solo movie solely because of their race at the end of the day, regardless.
Mackie’s comments also extended to studios’ director hiring with their tentpoles in general. Warner Bros. has pegged Patty Jenkins to make Wonder Woman, and Marvel is reportedly interested in getting someone like Angelina Jolie to call the shots on Captain Marvel. It’s curious that the companies only seem to be considering women to make films starring women superheroes, and black directors to make films starring black superheroes – and yet, it doesn’t seem as though those same women and/or black filmmakers are being given equal consideration for other projects that Marvel has in the pipeline.
Mackie even talks about his history working with female directors (most famously, on Kathryn Bigelow’s Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker) to illustrate his meaning. In that case, it didn’t matter that Bigelow was directing largely an all-male cast in an Iraqi War drama, she was ultimately the best one to do the narrative justice; at the end of the day, that should be the goal for any studio making any film. As such, perhaps Marvel should cast a wider net with its director search on all its upcoming movies (including Black Panther) to better ensure that its upcoming films will make for great additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.
Source: The Daily Beast