After the breakaway commercial and critical success of Ryan Coogler’s CREED, the director’s Sophomore film, it wouldn’t be crazy to extrapolate that the young filmmaker probably had the freedom to pick any project in the world for his third time in the director’s chair. Even more so than notable breakout directors of this year like Colin Trevorrow or Alex Garland, Coogler feels like a breath of fresh air in what many are calling an increasingly stagnant Hollywood, possessing a sharp, original directorial style.
But Coogler is also of African-American descent, and while many will claim that a director’s race is irrelevant and only their craftsmanship should be of importance, it’s hard to deny that the American film industry is dominated by white directors (white male directors while we’re at it). It’s even harder to deny that this needs to change. NOW.
And slowly but surely, it’s starting to look like that change Hollywood needs is happening, and today’s confirmation Coogler will be directing THE BLACK PANTHER for Marvel Studios in 2018 seems like proof. Coogler signing on to BLACK PANTHER is a major win for Marvel, who had been looking to cast an African-American director for their upcoming superhero film since its announcement. Not long agp, Marvel had courted another prominent African-American director, Ava Duvernay, but she turned the project down. But Marvel kept searching, and rumors broke not long ago that Marvel had begun speaking with the now in-demand Coogler about helming the film, rumors which have just now been confirmed.
This is great news for all involved. For starters, it means that THE BLACK PANTHER’s chances of being another rock-solid film in Marvel’s increasingly impressive lineup have gone up drastically. But more importantly, it’s a sign that that much-needed diversity is starting to arrive among the ranks of Hollywood’s directors. Coogler is the first African-American filmmaker to helm a movie for Marvel, and one of precious few to ever be given the reigns of a summer tent-pole blockbuster like BLACK PANTHER.
Very little other news about BLACK PANTHER is available at the moment, save for Marvel head Kevin Feige’s comment that it will feature a mostly-black cast, including actor Chadwick Boseman, who will be making his debut as the character in 2016’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR.
For those not in the know, the man behind the imposing mask of the Black Panther is T’Challa, the ruler of the highly advanced African nation of Wakanda. After his father, the previous Black Panther, is murdered, T’Challa must take up the mantle to avenge his father’s death and earn his place as Wakanda’s leader. Kevin Feige recently described the in-development film as “A geo-political action adventure” with heavy ties to the two-part AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR.
If absolutely nothing else, what you can take away from the announcement is that THE BLACK PANTHER will probably be a kick-ass film. But that’s not all that’s important here. By following through on their promise to hire an African-American director, Marvel has taken a good first step in shaking up the almost universally white, male demographic among Hollywood directors, particularly on high-profile summer films. Hopefully, Marvel keeps this trend going and we get some good news about the upcoming CAPTAIN MARVEL film in the near future.
Source: The Verge