Marvel’s Black Panther has finally arrived in theaters after spending 24 years stuck in development hell, of which at least eight of those years were at Marvel Studios. Hollywood had been trying to adapt T’Challa’s story onto the big screen for more than two decades. Columbia Pictures initially tried their hand at a Black Panther film starring Wesley Snipes, but that project never came to fruition. Then, Black Panther’s character rights bounced around a bit until they finally settled at Marvel.
Black Panther was the first character that Marvel Entertainment reacquired when they launched Marvel Studios in 2005. And while a Black Panther film was always a priority for the studio, it didn’t actually enter production until after Chadwick Boseman made his debut as T’Challa in Anthony and Joe Russo’s Captain America: Civil War in 2016. One of the reasons for Black Panther‘s constant delay is because the creative team behind the project simply couldn’t figure out the right origin story they wanted to tell… so they didn’t.
In an interview with Empire, Black Panther producer Nate Moore revealed that Marvel started developing the movie in 2010 with screenwriter Joe Robert Cole, but it wasn’t until Civil War came around that they finally cracked the code on how to finally bring T’Challa into the MCU.
“[I’ve been working on Black Panther] since I got [to Marvel]. So, 2010, we started developing a standalone movie, and with a very talented writer [Cole]. And we soon found ourselves falling into the pitfalls of an origin story movie and that sort of familiar structure that just wasn’t as exciting as we wanted it to be. So, we put it on the shelf for awhile, and it wasn’t until we were developing Captain America: Civil War that we saw an opportunity to introduce the character in a different way – that both served that movie really well, would be a great launching pad for the character, and allow us to do a film that could skip all the origin story pitfalls and just tell a cool story.”
One of the reasons Marvel’s Black Panther works so well for audiences is because the film’s opening animation sequence lays out all the information they need to know about Wakanda’s history and culture in the very beginning. And then, shortly after that, it’s revealed that T’Challa’s father recently died. Audiences are made aware of all the necessary details from Civil War without diving into too much detail; moviegoers just need to have a basic understanding of how monarchies work, and the rest is explained later on.
Moving away from being an origin story and diving straight into the character’s story is a creative decision that appears to be paying off well for Marvel Studios. After all, they did the same thing for Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Homecoming. And by doing so, Homecoming and Black Panther were able to step out of Iron Man‘s shadow, something that was increasingly difficult for Marvel. Interestingly, Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger does receive somewhat of an origin story in the film, thus making audiences sympathize with his motivations.
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