It was rumored in October that Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed) was of interest to Marvel to potentially direct Black Panther, news that was later followed up in the trades in December where reports indicated that he and the studio were in actual negotiations. We spoke with Coogler about Creed and his thoughts on the Marvel superhero around the time to which he expressed passion for the project and the importance of having a black director helm it.

The pairing became all but official last week when the February issue of Empire hit news stands featuring an interview with Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige who confirmed that Ryan Coogler would helm Black Panther and become the first black director for Marvel Studios. And now it is official. Ryan Coogler is directing the first Marvel Studios release of 2018.

The official announcement came via Marvel.com moments ago. Marvel Studios boss and Black Panther producer Feige on hiring Coogler:

“We are fortunate to have such an esteemed filmmaker join the Marvel family. The talents Ryan showcased in his first two films easily made him our top choice to direct ‘Black Panther.’  Many fans have waited a long time to see Black Panther in his own film, and with Ryan we know we’ve found the perfect director to bring T’Challa’s story to life.”

Creed, the film that helped the young 29 year-old director solidify his position among Hollywood’s best directorial talent, is already getting a sequel scheduled for late 2017 but it’s not posing any issues with scheduling conflicts since Sylvester Stallone says Coogler will serve only as an executive producer. Now we know that’s because Black Panther will be keeping him busy since the latest it can begin production is in early 2017, a time period that’ll overlap with post-production on Creed 2, potentially even during the shoot if Black Panther shoots a little earlier (i.e. end of this year).

Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan working on Creed

With Coogler locked in, Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe looks almost set in stone in terms of its creative teams, which allows Marvel to realize the entire Phase 3 long-term plan from the get-go in preparation for Avengers: Infinity War. This will ideally help ensure character and plot developments are planned out from the beginning to maintain continuity. Here’s what the Phase 3 director line-up looks like:

  • Anthony & Joe Russo – Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Scott Derrickson – Doctor Strange (2016)
  • James Gunn Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  • Jon Watts – Untitled Spider-Man Solo Movie (2017)
  • Taika Wahiti – Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  • Ryan Coogler – Black Panther (2018)
  • Anthony & Joe Russo – Avengers: Infinity War Part I (2018)
  • Peyton Reed – Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  • UNKNOWNCaptain Marvel (2019)
  • Anthony & Joe Russo – Avengers: Infinity War Part I (2019)

All Marvel needs now is to sign a director for Captain Marvel, the first female-led solo character movie for the studios. It’s this film that represents another important step for the studio in diversifying its characters, talent, and directors, and we know Marvel’s been in talks with female directors for the job, with names including Angelina Jolie and Ava DuVernay popping up in reports.

Update (Jan. 13 2016): Ryan Coogler shares passion and excitement for Black Panther.

Next: Civil War Details on Baron Zemo, Spider-Man, and Martin Freeman

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: Marvel