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Ryan Coogler Interview: Black Panther

Ryan Coogler is becoming rapidly known for his directorial work. His first feature film, Fruitvale Station, won numerous accolades and put him on the map. His next project was the spinoff Rocky sequel titled Creed, which further proved his skills in directing and writing and receiving great praise. Now his next directorial project is Marvel’s Black Panther.

Screen Rant got a chance to chat with Ryan Coogler on press day, where we discussed how Coogler balanced the cultural and political responsibility that a property like Black Panther brings and where he would like to see T’Challa’s character grow in Avengers: Infinity War.

Screen Rant: Great film.

Ryan Coogler: Oh, you liked it?

SR: I think it's the best Marvel movie ever.

Ryan Coogler: Right on.

SR: So first of all, this movie is amazing, it's fantastic. It transcends even the comic book genre, it's so groundbreaking to me. From the name Black Panther to the premise of an African nation that's uncolonized that's leading the world in technology and science to being the first black Marvel superhero, that's a lot of cultural and political responsibility in that character. How did you balance and get the layers down to all that while keeping the audience simultaneously, you know, going on the same track there's a lot to handle in that.

Ryan Coogler: Yeah, I had a great team around me, man. Like, I was working with Marvel Studios as, frankly, more experienced than anybody in terms of bringing these comic book films to screen in a way that engages the audience and feels cohesive. You know, I’ll call ‘em out by name: You got [President of Marvel Studios] Kevin Feige. You got [producer] Nate Moore, who was our day to day guy from the studio. You got [executive producers] Lou D’Esposito and Victoria Alonso, who kinda spearhead that studio involvement in a project.

And you know what I was able to do is to make something that was honest to myself, you know, it felt truthful. I was able to crew up with people who I respect and trusted to do their best work in terms of bringing this to life. And that goes for the cast, as well as our below the line crew. And in my co-writer Joe Robert Cole as well, you know everybody had a sense of ownership in this. And everybody wanted it to be to be great, you know? So we put all we could into it until they pulled it away from us.

SR: It shows, man.

Ryan Coogler: Right on.

SR: It’s amazing. So you've told the story about T’Challa becoming the King of Wakanda…

Ryan Coogler: Yes sir.

SR: We obviously know T’Challa’s going to be in Avengers: Infinity War and they’re going to do that, but where would you want to see T’Challa go next and in what storylines?

Ryan Coogler: Without getting into specifics, what I’ll say is something that I kind of, you know, what I struggled with at first is the difference between T’Challa in the comic books versus T’Challa in the MCU. And I always think that the differences lie in how old he was when he lost his father.

You know, in the comic books he's very young when [his father] T’Chaka is killed. In the MCU, he's a man, you know? And those are two different things. So, you know, in the [books] he was kind of a guy who was a child king, you know? He got his throne when he was very young. So when you meet him you know you dealing with a guy who’s thirty-four years old who's been king for a long time. So he has a different type of poise and confidence in his position, you know? Whereas, in our film that character is just settling in. So I’d be really interested to see, you know, what kind of king he is with experience and how that affects his performance in the stories.

SR: Well, amazing film, man. I can't say enough about it. And I saw you give a speech once and if people cared as much about filmmaking about their jobs then this world would be a better place, man, so thank you.

MORE: Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman Black Panther Interview

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Ryan Coogler Interview: Black Panther