[Update: Marvel posted the official Black Panther director announcement here.]

29 year-old director Ryan Coogler had an incredible 2015 and his Hollywood future is only getting brighter as he joins the creative side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Coogler earned much acclaim and attention for his work directing Fruitvale Station, and teamed up with star Michael B. Jordan again for his next effort, Creed – the followup to the Rocky series which looks to do well on the awards circuit.

Among other sought after directors including Ava DuVernay and F. Gary Gray – who were in talks with Marvel to direct Phase 3 films – Ryan Coogler has been rumored for months to be a top candidate to helm Black Panther. And now it seems he’s a lock for the gig.

A month ago, the reports of Coogler being of interest to Marvel Studios turned into actual insider reports that he was in negotiations for Black Panther. And in the February issue of Empire, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige confirmed it while also talking about the film itself.

“This one is important. Not only do you get an unbelievable lead character, but you also get all of Wakanda which is a whole new setting and culture to explore.”

Black Panther is a project that’s been cropping up in interviews with Feige for a decade and in Phase 3 of the MCU, it’s finally on the way with a February 2018 release date. We learned last week that the Black Panther solo movie, described as a “geopolitical action adventure,” will connect in a big way to Avengers: Infinity War, the next film coming in 2018. More importantly, it’s the first Marvel Studios production with a standalone black superhero as its lead. Marvel’s first TV lead black hero also releases on Netflix this fall as Mike Colter returns to play Luke Cage after his introduction in Jessica Jones.

Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan working on Creed

Marvel’s recent moves on both the film and TV front emphasize the much welcome push towards diversity in the record-setting superhero genre, with both minority characters and female characters finally getting title roles. On Marvel TV that begins with Haley Atwell’s Agent Carter and Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones, and continues on the big screen with Captain Marvel and Black Panther.

We spoke with Ryan Coogler weeks ago while he was promoting Creed about this topic where he explained the importance of studios looking for black directors to direct Black Panther and female directors for the first female superhero movies.

“So I think that there is a potential for a greater truth when a filmmaker comes from a particular culture that they’re dealing with. That’s not to say that a filmmaker can’t work outside his or her cultural space. But I do believe that the opportunity for the film to have more nuance will come when you looking at filmmakers that bring a little bit of that from their personal experience.

That’s why I think folks are opinionated about it. But if I was in a position where I’m making a movie about the first woman superhero that’s every going to get released all over the world, I would do everything in my power to find a woman to direct that movie out of the simple fact that I think it will give you a cultural perspective. I don’t think that’s wrong of a studio to do. I think it’s actually responsible. It’s responsible because it’s their job to make the truest, best film.”


Black Panther won’t begin production until late next year at the very earliest, but the character – played by Chadwick Boseman – gets his big introduction this May with Captain America: Civil War.

Update (Jan. 12 2016): Marvel posted the official Black Panther director announcement here.

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.

Sources: Empire (via HuffPo)