With Captain America: Civil War on its way to home video release, fans are looking ahead at what’s coming next from the MCU in theaters. Fortunately, for as much as Marvel loves keeping a tight lid on the future of its properties, there was plenty of teasing in Civil War to give us an idea of what to expect, thanks to its introduction of two new key characters.
While there was much excitement and anticipation for the showing of Tom Holland’s (In the Heart of the Sea) Spider-Man, the real show stopper was Chadwick Boseman (Gods of Egypt) as Black Panther. It was hard not to fall instantly under the spell of the Wakandan warrior, and his stunning portrayal in Civil War certainly gave fans much to look forward to in the upcoming Black Panther. Directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed), the film is set to break new ground by being the first major superhero movie to feature an African-American majority cast, bringing some much needed diversity into the MCU. And while that film is still a ways off from hitting the theaters, that doesn’t mean there’s not already a great way to enjoy the character, thanks to a series that Coogler himself has called an influence.
Marvel Comics recently relaunched an ongoing Black Panther comic with the prolific and brilliant African American writer/poet/journalist/thinker Ta-Nehisi Coates at the helm. At Marvel’s San Diego Comic-Con Hall H showcase on Saturday, new information about the Black Panther movie was revealed, including that the director and screenwriter Joe Robert Cole (The People vs. O.J. Simpson) are gaining insight and inspiration from Coates’ series as they craft their story.
“Oh, I love it, man. I mean, he’s my favorite writer right now in the world. Since being turned on to his work, I’m reading everything that he does. His nonfiction work, especially. But what he’s doing with Panther is just incredible. You can really see his background as a poet in some of the dialogue. And what Brian Stelfreeze is doing with the visuals in that book. And some of the questions that it’s asking. It’s just inspiring for [co-screenwriter] Joe Robert Cole and myself.”
Coates’ 11-issue run on Black Panther began last April with Black Panther #1, and has received much critical and commercial acclaim since its launch. As of May it was the best-selling comic of 2016. Along with artist Brian Stelfreeze, the new series doesn’t reinvent the character so much as it looks at who and what T’Challa is and what he does for his people in new ways. According to Coogler, this approach has given he and Cole plenty to work from in their project.
“What’s so great about Panther is he’s a superhero who, if you grab him and ask him if he’s a superhero, he’ll tell you, ‘No.’ He sees himself as a politician, as a leader in his country. It just so happens that the country is a warrior-based nation where the leaders have to be warriors, as well, so sometimes he has to go fight. I think starting at that is really so interesting. If you look at that, anything that’s happening in the world right now, or in the world in the past, in the political realm and how people deal with each other, it can be an inspiration.”
The so-called “warrior politician” approach is very much in line with how Coates has written the character during his tenure so far, and given the critical success of the series it makes sense that Coogler and Cole would mine the storyline for inspiration. Still, that probably doesn’t mean that moviegoers should expect a rehash of the story when the film finally hits screens in 2018.
Marvel is notorious for using the storylines from their comics as a jumping off point for exploring their characters while presenting a new story. Civil War is a great example of this; while the story touches on similar themes as its comic book counterpart, it unfolds in a completely new way, one which makes sense for the larger story of the MCU thus far. So while you can expect to find some hints of similarities between the MCU Black Panther and Coates’ story, it probably won’t be a beat-for-beat adaptation so much as it stays true to the spirit of the books.
Still, it’s hard not to get excited for the film, and even harder not to love that some of Coates’ ideas might find their way into Coogler’s vision. They are, currently, two of the most prominent voices of African-Americans working today, and that there might be some crossover between their visions is an exciting prospect which not only increases the prominence of black characters in media, but also of black voices in the arts and entertainment. We’ll be watching this story closely over the coming months and will update you on any and all news as it develops.
Black Panther is scheduled for release on February 16, 2018.