There are a multitude of things to be excited about in the upcoming Black Panther, but by far the film’s greatest asset will be its stellar cast. Much like Netflix’s Luke Cage before it, Marvel is ensuring that there is black talent both in front of and behind the camera, guaranteeing that this anticipated blockbuster will be a showcase of excellence.
At the creative helm of this project is director and co-writer Ryan Coogler, who has already proven himself with two well-received films: Fruitvale Station and Creed. While we’ve always heard from filmmakers how much they “loved the comics,” Coogler’s admiration for the source material is genuine and proves that representation does indeed matter.
In Entertainment Weekly’s Comic-Con preview of Black Panther, Coogler described to EW Senior Writer Anthony Breznican that his childhood entry point to the Marvel comics was X-Men character Bishop. Moviegoers will no doubt remember Bishop from Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, as played by French actor Omar Sy. As it would for any other child of color in America, seeing a superhero who looks like him was inspirational to the future writer and director.
Upon further research into the X-Men world, young Coogler found how Stan Lee mentioned that the conflict between Professor X and Magneto served as an allegory for the 1960s Civil Rights movement in the United States. While comic books and the movies they inspire are mostly fun and games, the stories carry a social importance as well, something that producer and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige acknowledges to EW:
“Creating a character named Black Panther, who comes across in those early comics as smarter than everybody else, is shrewder than everybody else, comes from a country that is more advanced than any other country… They were doing this in the ‘60s, right in the middle of the Civil Rights movement. That’s pretty good,” Feige says. “And we are certainly not going to shy away from that.”
Newly inspired by X-Men, Coogler went to the comic book store nearest his elementary school, and asked where he could find black superheroes. Lo and behold, Coogler was sent straight to the “B” section where he found Black Panther comics. Unsurprisingly, he quickly fell in love with the character, unbeknownst to him setting up his eventual fate directing the big-screen adaptation of the comic book. After Coogler landed the job with Marvel, EW’s Breznican continued, he returned to that same comic book store to find the Black Panther comics in the exact same spot.
You would have to have a heart as cold as vibranium to not be warmed by Coogler’s recollection as a child. What is even more heartwarming is the idea that the new Black Panther movie will likely serve as an entry point of creativity for children of color all around the world. After hearing this, it is no surprise that this film will be Coogler’s “most personal” film. As X-Men, Black Panther comics, and Stan Lee inspired Ryan Coogler, his work will likewise continue the cycle of inspiration to many more future artists.
Source: Entertainment Weekly (YouTube)