If the Marvel Cinematic Universe has one criticism amid its generally favorable pop-culture standing, a lack of diversity both in front of and behind the camera would be it. While the studio's films and television series are popular with audiences of all backgrounds worldwide, it has faced increasing pressure to tell stories and feature characters that reflect the reality of a globalized entertainment world -- a call it aims to begin answering in earnest with Black Panther in 2018.
Now, from a profile of Marvel producer Nate Moore, comes word on just how far the film plans to takes its commitments to diversity and internationalism.
The piece, posted to The Undefeated, focuses on Moore's rise from a small-time producer to head of Marvel's "writer's program" (which brought talent onboard to pitch feature scripts based on lesser-known characters) and the lone black producer in the main Marvel brain trust and makes specific note of his shepherding of the Black Panther movie in particular. From the article:
"The film is being co-written by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, a black writer who wrote a few episodes for FX’s recent and popular The People v. O.J. Simpson (and who came out of that Marvel writers’ program years ago). And it’s shooting in places where black people live. “We’ll do our stage work in Atlanta,” Moore said. “And we’re definitely investigating shooting in Africa … both Marvel and Ryan feel that would be really good for the movie. We just haven’t drilled down on it yet.” Also: The expected release date for the Black Panther film is 2018, in the thick of Black History Month."
As in the original Marvel comics, Black Panther is set to take place primarily in and around Wakanda, a fictional East African national typically depicted as existing somewhere north of Tanzania. If the decision to film on-location in a real African nation pans out, it will join the relatively rare ranks of Hollywood blockbusters to do so -- as most films set in Africa have tended to shoot in domestic locations re-dressed to resemble African settings. A brief glimpse of Wakandan geography seen in Captain America: Civil War (where Black Panther made his feature debut) showed a mountainous region dense with jungle foliage.
As conceived by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in the pages of Fantastic Four, Wakanda's original depiction was of a technologically advanced civilization that concealed its true nature behind that of a "primitive" tribal society; a conception that has been (understandably) reworked in more recent decades as part of the character's various solo series. The most recent run, by award-winning writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, recently sold-out copies of both of its two issues to date.
Captain America: Civil War is in theaters now. 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 War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2– May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.