Throughout its eight-year, 13-film run so far, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has largely focused on the core members of The Avengers team; Iron Man, Captain America and Thor have all received standalone series within the overarching narrative of the shared universe. However, Guardians of the Galaxy was a breath of fresh air since the film tapped into a previously untouched realm of the MCU. Plus, in the coming years Marvel Studios has plans to introduce magic and mysticism in Doctor Strange, the universe's first Black superhero-led film in Black Panther, and the MCU's first female superhero-led movie in Captain Marvel.
The character of T'Challa (played by Chadwick Boseman) was first introduced in the Joe and Anthony Russo directed Captain America: Civil War, before Black Panther will lead his own movie in 2018. Earlier this year, it was announced Creed's Ryan Coogler will helm Black Panther, after it was reported Selma director Ava DuVernay passed on the project. Now, DuVernay discusses why she turned down Black Panther and endorses Coogler as the film's director.
While speaking to Wall Street Journal about her new television series, Queen Sugar, DuVernay was asked about being in talks with Marvel about boarding the Black Panther film. She said the fact that it's "the first major feature film featuring a black superhero" drew her to the project, but it inevitably wasn't a good fit for her. However, DuVernay said the film is in good hands and can't wait to see Coogler's finished product:
It’s perfect for Ryan Coogler. I mean, perfect for Ryan Coogler, a great friend of mine. He’s already killing it. Every time I talk to him I’m just blown away by some of the things that they’re talking about. Fans are over the moon already, I don’t know if you saw the hashtag trending every time anything comes out for Black Panther: #BlackPantherSoLit. I’m the first person on there typing away. I’m already in line actually; I’m not here, I’m in line for Black Panther already - so excited for it.
In addition to directing, Coogler co-wrote the Black Panther script along with Joe Robert Cole, and the film is expected to begin production early in 2017. Joining Boseman in the cast of the film are Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong'o as a member of the Dora Milaje (a group of warrior women) named Nakia and 2015's Fantastic Four star Michael B. Jordan as supervillain Eric Killmonger. Plus, it was announced at this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego that The Walking Dead's Danai Gurira will play the leader of the Dora Milaje.
With so much talent both in front of and behind the camera, it's clear why DuVernay and fans are looking forward to Black Panther. Additionally, as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther will be tapping into a long legacy of comic book mythology - one that has its own fans who have been waiting patiently for T'Challa to lead a film in the superhero shared universe. Boseman, for his part, recently said Black Panther will be "a big deal" not only for viewers hoping to see more diversity in the MCU, but Marvel fans in general.
Of course, with so much buzz and anticipation already surrounding a feature not due out for more than a year, there is a possibility Black Panther won't be able to meet expectations. Certainly, though Coogler and the cast may have potential for another hit under Marvel Studios' umbrella, the finished film may miss the mark. That said, there is currently nothing to indicate Black Panther won't be a critical and financial success to rival Marvel's previous superhero films - the movie's director even has DuVernay's stamp of approval.
Captain America: Civil War is now available on Digital HD and will be available on Blu-Ray on September 13th, 2016. Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; Untitled Avengers – May 3, 2019; and as-yet-untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.