Marvel Studios' ambitious plans for Phase Three of their Marvel Cinematic Universe kick off next year with Captain America: Civil War, but a lot of fans are eager to see the new characters that Marvel will be bringing into the fold via solo film adventures - a lineup that includes Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, The Inhumans and of course, Black Panther.
After a long wait and much anticipation, Marvel's Black Panther is slated to headline his own movie in summer 2018, but finding a director has been an ongoing challenge. Today we are hearing tell of yet another famous filmmaker being in consideration to helm Black Panther: F. Gary Gray, whose filmography includes Friday, Law Abiding Citizen, The Italian Job and more recently, the hit musical biopic, Straight Outta Compton. In addition to that, there are reports that a writer has been attached to the film.
The Wrap is reporting exclusively that Joe Robert Cole is the writer who is nearing a deal to write Black Panther. Cole is someone who has been part of Marvel's in-house program, and reportedly took a crack at the Inhumans movies. His actual list of feature-films is scant, but if he's part of Marvel's program, then odds are he has the capability to deliver the sort of brand of entertainment that Marvel wants.
Variety reported the news of Marvel considering Gray for Black Panther as an aside in a larger report about who will direct Fast and Furious 8 - another film that Gray was recently said to be in contention for. It's not that shocking of a choice for a project like Black Panther, due to the following reasons:
- Gray was once in contention to direct Captain America: The Winter Soldier, before that project went to the Russo Bros.
- Furious 8 is slated for release in April 2017; Black Panther comes out in July 2018, arguably leaving Gray enough time to do both films.
- Gray is that rare case of an African American director who has had success turning films led by black characters and casts into mainstream success stories (Friday, Straight Outta Compton).
Aside from the points above, F. Gary Gray has also demonstrated an undeniable versatility in his filmmaking. Friday remains a comedy cult-classic; The Italian Job was a slick heist actioner; Law Abiding Citizen a tense and surprising dramatic thriller; while Compton was arguably a meld of all of the above. With that range and experience behind him, Gray seems like a prime frontrunner for both Black Panther and Furious 8 - and speaking as a fan of both franchises, I wouldn't mind seeing him attached to both of these projects.
While we wait for a director to helm the Black Panther movie, the character himself will first appear in Captain America: Civil War, played by Get On Up star Chadwick Boseman. How he is portrayed in that film will likely help fans envision what they want to see in a full Black Panther movie; though by then, Marvel will certainly have a director in place.
Captain America: Civil War opens on May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man reboot – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Black Panther – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; and Inhumans – July 12, 2019.