Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige praises Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for having the courage to create Black Panther in the 1960s for Marvel Comics, and now, he plans to honor their creation (and their vision) as much as he possibly can.
Black Panther was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby way back in 1966. Not only did the character outshine many of the traditional comic book superheroes of the era, but the character came at a time in which the civil rights movement in the U.S. was still raging on. And so, the character's reveal itself became a point of controversy. Despite some backlash, Marvel swiftly made Black Panther a member of the Avengers, and the Wakandan king fought side-by-side with the likes of Captain America and Iron Man. Then, by 1973, T'Challa was starring in his own book.
Screen Rant attended a recent press conferences for Black Panther, in which Marvel's Kevin Feige stressed how important the character's legacy is.
"...There are other things in the film that have been relevant for centuries, but the truth of the matter is Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and the whole Marvel bullpen created Wakanda and created T’Challa and created Black Panther and made him a smarter, more accomplished character than any of the other white characters in the mid-1960s. So they had the guts to do that in the mid-1960s. The least we can do is live up to that and allow this story to be told the way it needed to be told and not shy away from things that the Marvel founders didn’t shy away from in the height of the civil rights era."
Comic books have always been political. As Feige noted, Lee and Kirby deliberately chose to have a black superhero who was, frankly, smarter than the white characters. When T'Challa joined the Avengers, he was accepted as an equal to heroes like Captain America. Marvel knew exactly what message they were sending. The tragic irony is that this message is timely once again. Feige said: "Well, I think it’s happened for the comics, it’s happened with the movie. Ryan wrote this, for the most part, you know, a year and a half ago, two years ago so things have happened in the world which makes the film seem more relevant."
In the same interview, writer-director Ryan Coogler stressed that he had Marvel's full support when it came to making Black Panther a politically-aware film. He approached Feige with his vision for the movie, expecting some pushback; instead, according to Coogler, Feige was remarkably enthusiastic. Coogler said: "I was getting notes that were about making it more interesting and pushing it."
Black Panther is a celebration of African identity, as the filmmaker has consistently pointed out in the past, and it's every bit a political statement as the Black Panther comics were when the character debuted over 50 years ago. What's more, it stands as testament to the boldness of Lee and Kirby's vision, which continues to shine throughout the MCU.
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