While you wouldn’t think it from some of the coverage so far, a lot of directors have met with Marvel when it comes to the possibility of tackling 2018’s Black Panther. Ava Duvernay, Carl Franklin, F. Gary Gray, Lee Daniels, John Singleton, handfuls of up-and-comers, etc. When it comes to an African-American filmmaker, you name them and they probably at least ended up on a list of potentials, if not landed at least one meeting at Marvel Studios. Some have come far closer than others, of course, but thus far, no one has landed the gig.
If current word is to be believed, however, Marvel might have finally narrowed the search down to two candidates. The first is Dope director Rick Famuyiwa, who has been rumored to be in the running for awhile now. The second is Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed). Both are interesting choices for bringing to life the world of Prince T’Chaka (Chadwich Boseman) and the fictional nation of Wakanda, at least more than we might see of both in Captain America: Civil War, but I’m hesitant to get excited just yet. Why? Because all too often these things break down.
It took Marvel forever to find a director for Thor: Ragnarok before finally landing on Taiki Waititi. The long search had less to do with waiting to find a script they were happy with (though that took forever too) and more to do with the fact that looking someone down isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Kenneth Branagh flirted with a return for the longest time and then walked away when he no longer needed it after the success of Cinderella. Others came and went as well.
The same recently happened with Black Panther. F. Gary Gray did indeed come close to signing on before ultimately opting for what he felt was a better deal for himself, in the form of the director’s chair on Universal’s 8th Fast and Furious film. There’s no guarantee that the same won’t happen with one of these guys, particularly Coogler. Creed is gaining a hefty amount of buzz and if MGM smells a full-blown Rocky spin-off franchise off of the film, toplined by Michael B. Jordan’s character, you can bet that they will be putting in an offer to Coogler to return for a sequel.
Who will ultimately direct Black Panther’s inaugural solo adventure? I have no idea! Until an official announcement comes through, there’s just no way to be sure. For now, at least, the choice appears to be down to these two gentlemen. Both seem qualified for the job, so in Marvel we trust.