I know we’ve mentioned it in the past on the site, but now we can finally mention it in an official capacity: Creed and Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler is directing Marvel’s Black Panther. There had been rumours and watercooler talk about negotiations between the acclaimed director and the comic book film studio since the end of last year, but Marvel have now confirmed the gig with this statement from studio President Kevin Feige:
“We are fortunate to have such an esteemed filmmaker join the Marvel family. The talents Ryan showcased in his first two films easily made him our top choice to direct ‘Black Panther.’ Many fans have waited a long time to see Black Panther in his own film, and with Ryan we know we’ve found the perfect director to bring T’Challa’s story to life.”
The 29-year old Coogler burst onto the scene in 2013 with the true life drama Fruitvale Station, which he both wrote and directed as his filmmaking debut. Not only did the movie completely wow audiences on the film festival scene (and me!), but it also provided Michael B. Jordan with the breakthrough role that would make him a hot Hollywood commodity. And last year saw Coogler again team up with Jordan for his second feature Creed, the absolutely brilliant Rocky sequel/reboot that just nabbed co-star Sylvester Stallone a Golden Globe.
And after just two movies, he’s now truly moving up into the blockbuster big time. He joins similar recent graduates from the indie to blockbuster scene like Colin Trevorrow (went from the tiny Safety Not Guaranteed to Jurassic World to Star Wars: Episode IX) and Gareth Edwards (jumped from microbudget sci-fi Monsters to Godzilla and then Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). As for Coogler being picked for Black Panther, he’s an incredibly good choice as he’s shown that he can deliver on thrilling action beats (DAT SINGLE TAKE BOXING MATCH IN CREED!) just as well as his gut-wrenching human drama.
Coogler has also had a very strong voice on African-American issues in his movies, and that’s something that’s very important to Black Panther, who was the first black American comic book character to ever have his own title and which is set in the fictional African nation of Wakanda of which Black Panther aka T’Challa (played by Chadwick Boseman) is Prince. Of course Wakanda is very much a comic book African nation, possessing the most advanced technology on the planet, but Marvel have made a big point of noting that the new African setting and the heritage that goes along with it is very much going to be front and centre in this movie.
But while Coogler directing Black Panther is most definitely a good thing, it does come with a drawback. MGM CEO Gary Barber has revealed to Variety that the plan is to get the proposed Creed sequel out as soon as possible, with them aiming for a November 2017 release. If that is indeed the case, that definitely means that Coogler cannot return to direct that as well, as he will be up to his neck in production on Black Panther, which is releasing early the following year. Sylvester Stallone did hint that Coogler may still be around on Creed 2 as a producer or maybe even contributing the script again – he wrote the first movie – so at least he will be involved in some way.
Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther will be making his debut in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, before Coogler gives him solo movie debut on 16 February 2018.
PS: No offense to Boseman, who is a great actor, but am I the only one that is now seriously wishing that Marvel had cast Jordan instead as Black Panther?
Last Updated: January 13, 2016