Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy has already become the highest-grossing film of 2014 (domestically) just one month into its theatrical run. Not only that, James Gunn's entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe made a name for itself as a critics' favorite, giving the property a one-two punch of commercial and critical appeal. As discussed on the Screen Rant Underground podcast, its success opened many doors for Marvel as they continue their shared universe for years to come.
As Kevin Feige and company move onwards to Phase 3, there's been a lot of talk of the company's so-called "third-tier" characters joining the ranks of Star-Lord and Rocket as international movie stars. Peyton Reed's Ant-Man is already in production, Scott Derrickson is set to call the shots on Doctor Strange and there's a script for Inhumans that's ready to be passed around.
One hero in particular that comic fans have been clamoring for a long time is Black Panther. A native of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, it has been speculated by some that the character will be making an appearance in next year's Avengers: Age of Ultron - based on director Joss Whedon having shot some scenes in South Africa.
The potential for a Black Panther adaptation has been a discussion point for a while now. Feige himself said that the project was "absolutely in development" last year and more recently admitted that the studio is listening to the public's requests to feature Black Panther in a film. Not only that, Star Wars: Episode VII star John Boyega teased around SDCC 2014 that he was "aiming" for a Marvel role and "booking a flight to Wakanda."
Even Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee has had a thing or two to say about Black Panther possibly showing up in a feature film. Lee mentioned last year that Black Panther was one upcoming MCU installment he knew about, and now he's at it again. During a panel at Fan Expo Canada (via Comic Book Resources), he opened up about Marvel Studios' future plans when discussing the prospect of a Black Widow solo film.
“We haven’t made a Black Widow movie but she’s been in some of our movies, and she will be featured more prominently as we move forward. And the chances are she will have her own movie because eventually all the superheroes are going to have their own movies. They are already working on Ant-Man, Dr. Strange and the Black Panther and there are others I am not allowed to talk about.”
Given that Marvel has their movie universe planned out through 2028 and have several unannounced films on the horizon, it seems very likely that the King of Wakanda will become known to moviegoers soon. Still, we've been down this road before with Lee namedropping Black Panther and the studio remaining silent in regards to actually confirming it. Feige's comments are a promising sign, but until Marvel Studios comes out and says that it's officially happening, all fans have to go off on is hearsay.
This is essentially becoming Marvel's version of Shazam; the upcoming movie everyone knows is coming via elaborate teases, but isn't scheduled yet. With the recent quotes from Feige, Boyega, and Lee, it certainly appears that the wheels are in motion, so it's plausible to think that there will be some word about the film in the foreseeable future. With this much activity surrounding it, it wouldn't add up if nothing came to fruition.
The issue, as it stands, is not if we'll see Black Panther, but when. There are currently six unclaimed release dates for Disney/Marvel, including two in 2017 and three in 2018. We know Thor 3 and The Avengers 3 will take two of those spots eventually, while Doctor Strange and Inhumans are likely to claim two of the remaining dates. However, that still leaves room for a newcomer like Black Panther to arrive on the scene in there.
We'll keep you updated on Black Panther as more information becomes available.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.
Source: Comic Book Resources
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