It sounds like that 4-hour assembly cut of Marvel's Black Panther won't ever see the light of day. By the time Black Panther hit theaters in February, its runtime had been trimmed down from its massive length to a comparably lean 2 hours and 14 minutes.
Given that director Ryan Coogler had created a rich and detailed world with Wakanda, fans were curious as to what ended up on the cutting room floor. Add to that the fact that Black Panther was revered by fans and critics around the world, not to mention its stellar box-office performance. All considering, it seemed like the release of a director's cut would be almost inevitable. There was even a rumor that this extended cut could find its way on the home video release, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
In an interview with Screen Rant, Black Panther producer Nate Moore shoots down hopes of a director's cut ever releasing. Moore also discusses how an extended cut simply wouldn't be feasible considering all the effort that will need to go into making it presentable.
"Yeah, Ryan's director's cut was long. It was interesting - even in the scriptwriting process, we knew that the piece of material that we shot had some scenes that wouldn't make it into the final cut just because of the ambition of the story that Ryan wanted to tell. So the four-hour cut was literally everything in the film that was shot assembled in a way that obviously had the bones of the final film but had some additional things, some of which are in the DVD extras that people can explore.
"I don't think, ultimately, we would do an extended cut because a lot of times what happens with those early cuts is you don't finish the visual effects, you don't finish the sound, so there is no pristine four-hour cut that ever existed quite frankly. Even the score that had been temped in by Ludwig, who started very early on - almost earlier than we'd ever started a composer before - it was his music but not his final version of the music, so all of that stuff exists in a very imperfect state."
Not wanting to release an unfinished version of the film does make sense from a creative standpoint. But, looking at how well Black Panther performed at the box office, it seems like there'd be some incentive to polish some of that footage up. Of course, Black Panther isn't a stand-alone film; it's the 18th film in 10 years to take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After all, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) was first introduced in 2016's Captain America: Civil War before appearing in Black Panther. He also made his third, somewhat underused appearance in Avengers: Infinity War just two months after his own solo movie came out. When dealing with large, overlapping storylines across multiple films at once, Moore explains that certain creative concessions have to be made.
"The other truth about how we make films here which I think is smart is if there are ideas or scenes or notions that could work in other films that maybe were in this cut, what we want to do is save them for a rainy day because you never know when a great scene or a great idea can be used in another film. So sometimes there are things we'll never show audiences because we know we can repurpose them in another film."
While fans may never know exactly what those extra 90-odd minutes had to offer, there's some comfort that those omitted scenes and plot lines might find new life elsewhere in the MCU. And with Black Panther beloved by critics and fans alike, the chances of a sequel are all but inevitable. So, it's definitely possible that some of these edited moments might find their way into future Black Panther storylines. Who knows, they may even be reworked for a possible female version of Black Panther that's currently being talked about.
With Marvel currently having films slated through 2025, there's no shortage of chances some of Coogler's vision will find its way back into the fold. In the meantime, everyone will have to make due with the handful of deleted scenes that hint at what this extended cut could've been.
Black Panther is out now on Digital HD, DVD, and Blu-ray.
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