Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Is THE BLACK PANTHER Movie Finally Happening?

Latino Review's El Mayimbe - who's just about the most scary-reliable movie news scooper out there right now, sez YES.

No official confirmation from Marvel/Disney yet, but these guys have been spot-on pretty-much every time they've made a call. If so, this will mark the first Marvel Studios production to feature a minority lead and will (unless I'm forgetting someone?) be the first comic-based film to star a black superhero since "Blade" back in 98.

More substantially, it's a terrific character with tons of cinematic potential:

I don't know how high awareness of the character is outside established comic fandom, but The Black Panther is kind of a big deal: The first black superhero in modern/mainstream comics, and also the first to hail (natively) from Africa.

Shortest possible version: Remember Eddie Murphy in "Coming to America?" He's that guy, if he was also Batman. Panther's real name is T'Challa, and he's the King of an isolated Sub-Saharan African nation called Wakanda; which maintains a surface-level facade of being a "primitive" jungle tribe but is actually a technologically-advanced super-civilization hidden deep underground. In the comics-proper, Wakanda sustains/defends itself primarily as the world's principal source of Vibranium - the super-special metal that Captain America's shield is made of.

The casting on this will be really interesting - the mega-success of The Avengers and the automatic high-profile that will come from being the first nonwhite member of what is now Hollywood's number-one "superhero factory" makes this instantly the biggest role specifically calling for a black male lead in Hollywood right now. Penny-pinching Marvel will almost certainly want to with a fresh face, but you can bet that LOT'S of established names are throwing their hats in as well.

Of less interest but still probably amusing-as-hell: The innevitable Fox News etc. freakout over the name (which predates the 1970s activist organization) and the positioning of an African leader as a superhero. This won't come out until well after the election, of course, but don't expect that to stop the fun...


JD said...

I hope that they lean towards the Christopher J. Priest era of Black Panther comics. Strong mix of superhero action, politics and humor.

MerelyAFan said...

He's a bit on the older side, and might give people Oz/Lost flashbacks, but I'd love to see Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as the title character.

Kholdstare said...

T'Challa is freaking awesome in the Avengers cartoon. I really hope this is true.

Voltech said...

A Black Panther movie...if you'll allow me to use a hackneyed internet phrase, me gusta.

Admittedly I'm not much of an expert on Black Panther -- or comics in general -- but I HAVE seen him in the Avengers cartoon and the Ultimate Alliance games, and I like what I've seen.

So who would be the primary villain in this movie, if you had a say in it?

JUSTINtimeforalaugh said...

I'd give Hancock a technicality, because it was a superhero movie, though not from comics. War Machine was a co-star in Iron Man 2... that might count.

Lord Slithor said...

Well, whoever will end up playing him, I can guarantee who it won't be: Wesley Snipes.

Snipes had been trying to get a Black Panther movie made for years. It was kind of his dream project. But since his...uh, recent financial problems have left him incapable of acting in anything right now, chances are he won't be involved in any capacity.

I can only bet he'll be gnashing and grating his teeth from behind bars once he hears this news.

seraphmaclay said...

...um...Steel, starring Shaquille O'Neal...X-Men heavily featured Storm...and yeah, you already mentioned Blade. Black Panther and Luke Cage are the ones I'd like to see a lot.


Anonymous said...

How would Donald Glover do in this role? If Sony won't let him be Spider Man why not bring him in as Black Panther, I am sure he will care about the material and do it justice.

Anonymous said...

Wesley Snipes is due out next July, so who knows? Marvel has a lot on its plate at the moment and they very well could end up with a limo awaiting Snipes as he walks out of prison (king of like The Blues Brothers, complete with a mission from God).

Anonymous said...

Two things:

1) Hollywood is under the concept that, outside of the Will Smith effect, "urban" audiences don't show up for fantasy/science fiction in general. Are there any actual numbers backing this up? Is there an actual sample size that takes demographic ratios into account? Were any movies actually targeted to black audiences? Have they even tried polling black people about what kinds of movies they want to see? Or is it just another case of "white heterosexual cisgendered male studio heads create self-fulfilling prophecies"?

2) What will this mean for the Luke Cage movie? Think Marvel is bold enough to do two back-to-back black superheroes?

Daniel R said...

I think this is a genius move, one that'll pay dividends for Marvel with the appropriate marketing. He's already a character in The Avengers cartoon series (Where he really is totally awesome by the way) so you know kids will flock to the theater. That coupled with Marvel's recently garnered fame with general audiences will really help the film reach a broad audience, an audience a lot bigger then just the presumed "Urban film audience"

I just hope it makes a lot more then the box office analyst's estimate, so Hollywood can finally get the message that you don't need Will Smith or Denzel Washington to secure a large audience with a black actor.

As for casting, he's a bit on the young side but how about John Boyega from "Attack the Block"?
He's a relative newcomer and HBO recently passed on a Pilot featuring him as a young boxer named Donnie. So you know he's in good shape and wanting to get into American entertainment.

@Anonymous 11:15
I think any Luke Cage projects have been put on hold for the time being, what with his then-upcoming TV show being cancelled. I imagine Luke Cage will be a "Phase 3" hero. After Avengers 2 is done with. That is, assuming we get there.

Anonymous said...

Djimon Hounsou. Nuff said.

Phil said...

I don't see any reason to get excited yet.

First, there is the question of which version of Black Panther will they base the movie on? Seeing how SHIELD is being used so much in Marvel Studio's movies tey could very well go into the Ultimate origin of Black Panther's which is terrible compared to the original. In short, Black Panther owes SHIELD his life and all of his skills. SHIELD essentially saves him and gives him his powers. However, in the main Marvel comic line Black Panther is his own man who earned his skills.

Then there is the question of if they are going to be shoving in white people as main characters in the film despite the fact that a movie about Black Panther done in his homeland would be a very black movie.

Then there is the question of if they will give this a high budget like the other Marvel movies because the story of Black Panther is of the epic level. Marvel did announce sometime back that they plan on doing films on a lower budget for some other comic book characters. Black Panther should not be on that list.

And is the movie going to be any good? Personally aside from The Avengers I didn't care much for the Marvel Studio movies thus far. They are just a bunch of safe movies that are partly sitcoms with unimpressive action.

We'll see.

P.S. That "urban film audience" phrase sounds quite insulting. If that was purely the author of that article, then it's just another reason why Latino Film Review is a phony website pretending to reach out to Latinos when all it actually does is just pander to Hollywood hype and never calling attention to its ill practices against nonwhite talent.

Now if it came from Marvel, then things don't look so good for this movie if that is their mindset.

Sylocat said...

I'm hoping they hire from (in fact, perhaps shamelessly plunder from) the cast of The Wire.

Anonymous said...


"Urban audience" was supposed to refer to people hailing from poor neighborhoods in densely populated areas where drugs, gang violence, and a lack of access to social services are a sad reality, but over time, it mutated to just "black". I'm pretty sure Bob has talked about the term before.

Phil said...


Thanks but I know what "urban audience" refers to.

It's the usage in this context of "going after" one specific audience that comes across as possibly insulting. Especially considering that Black Panther isn't an urban based character.

All the Marvel Studio before were trying to reach mainstream audiences. No reason why a nonwhite superhero movie shouldn't have those same big sights. "Urban film audiences" watch comic book movies too. Just concentrate on making a good movie and the audience will come.

Anonymous said...

Keith David MUST be the Panther. I COMMAND IT!

Razmere said...

I don't know JACK about Black Panther other than what you've posted in this. So there is a good chance that I may like the movie, regardless of if it "STICKS" to the source material, so long as it kicks ass.

Daniel R said...


When i said "Urban film audiences" I didn't mean to imply that the film would specifically reach out to a black audience.
I meant to say the film would reach a bigger audience then Hollywood would wrongly assume it would. It would surpass their expectations.

"Urban Audience" is a common term in the current Studio vernacular, a simplifying term.
Racist? Maybe. I'm probably not well equipped enough to say.
Nevertheless, Hollywood is a horribly oversimplifying place so they probably only expect this film to draw in (in their own words, hence the quotes) the "Urban audience."

A good film is a good film, if the Black Panther is well made- and in my opinion, nothing Marvel has made recently has me worried it won't- then audiences of all races, ages, genders, and walks of life will go see it. Hollywood may finally get through their thick skulls that a black actor can be the lead in a blockbuster.
If its not, they won't. Hollywood will probably attribute it to the actor's race, and simply reassure themselves in their stupid idea.
Don't think they won't, the lesson Warner Bros. supposedly took away from "Green Lantern" wasn't "we should make better Superhero movies," rather; "our Superhero movies should be grittier and more realistic like the Batman films."

Nathan said...

(Slightly off topic and though I'll admit that I love being the soul voice with a desenting opinion but I'm not typing this to be inflamatory. I'm typing it because there has always seemed to be a certain cognitive disonance involving Black Panther that I don't understand.)

Simply put I LOATHE Black Panther. He's probably my most hated character in the Marvel Universe. Not because he's black (I'm an arsehole. Not a racist.) but because he's an evil bastard who everybody heralds as a hero.

(Which I suppose also makes him the most sucessful villian in the Marvel Universe as well.)

To put it simply. He holds his advanced tech above the heads of both the developed countries and the third world. In doing so he deprives the rest of the planet from; advanced genetic manipulation techniques (Giant vegetables and the like.), improved fuels engines and nano-technology, AI, medical techniques. An entire cultures worth of knowledge and philosophy and of course the worlds only source of the ever important vibrandium.

Because we don't meet up to his moral standards. When somebody like Doctor Doom does that (Attempt to make the world change for the better by withholding benificial technology from the people who are not under his rule and in doing so attempt to cause an idealogical shift in the worlds populace. To a mindset that is more in line with his own.) it's being neglegent (at absolute best.) At worst it's terrorism.

**** that and **** him as well.

Lee Kalba said...

Kieth David is in his 50s. As a voice actor, yeah, he'd be great, but as far as live action goes, no, it needs someone younger and in better shape. Honestly, I'd love to see the guy from True Blood branch out into something like this. I'm too lazy to look up his name.

Also, didn't Cracked use that same description for Black Panther? I know I've read it before.

Nathan said...

Just looked through all the search pages containing the phrase "Black Panther" and I don't think it's there. (Also: The "6 Famous Movies with Mindblowing Messages" article is far more obvious than I expected.)

Which is good as I would hate to nick an alternate character interpretation like that but I don't think that I've done so here.

However: If you have seen that writen somewhere else. Please point it out.

Popcorn Dave said...

Lee: do you mean the "that guy, if he was also Batman" line? Bob used that description himself recently:


Maybe that's what you're thinking of?

Pat said...

Chiwetel Ejiofor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiwetel_Ejiofor)

Go watch "Serenity" again and tell me that this guy wouldn't be perfect for the role.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan said...

I have only two words to describe how AWESOME this could be: Djimon Hounsou.

He already played T'Challa in the Black Panther animated series from 2010, and he'd be even better in a live-action part.

While I'd like to think that people wouldn't freak out about the name, I guess stranger things have happened.

Why must people be so dumb?

El Beezerino said...

Lance Reddick anyone? A bit on the old side, but he's got, or at least had the build for a super hero. Also he's got that authoritative voice.

Phil said...

@Daniel R
That "urban film audience" comment of mine wasn't about you. I was commenting on the article written at "Latino Film Review" which Bob linked to in his post.

I thought that was clear in my post unless you are the author of that article over at that website.

Dave from canada said...

@ Sam Roberts

Bleh. I cannot contain my absolute apathy towards Djimon Honsou. I've seen him in a b unch of things, he's never been bad, but I've never found him especially impressive and I feel like his name gets tossed around because he's the only black actor of a certain age that hasn't been seen in a fat suit or saying the words "Welcome ta erf!"

I submit Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Yes, yes I know he's actually british and somehow that makes me a secret nazi but he's not only a better actor than Honsou but he's well at home in genre work, has a pretty fantastic range, has already played a character with black pantherish fighting style (directed by joss whedon no less).

As long as we keep Reg hudlin away from this thing on pain of death it should be ok.

Dave from canada said...

@ Nathan

I can sympathize, but honestly, half of the marvel universe is like that. reed richards can make flying cars and unbreakable clothes but can't cure cancer?

Tony stark and henry pym are the same situation. Can create entire new fields of science but can't stop child poverty.

Anonymous said...

About Black Panther suppressing technology: that's the result of an extremely flawed conceit that makes the Marvel and DC universes in general just a little stupid. They use the fiction standard of "like reality except where noted", but because they have such a dense concentration of every fantasy trope imaginable, it's basically impossible to justify the world even vaguely resembling our own. That's where a Golden Gate level of disbelief suspension comes into play.

Anonymous said...

Chiwetel Ejiofor would be a good Black Panther in my opinion. Good actor, can be badass (just watch Serenity), AND if Joss Whedon directs Avengers 2, they've worked together before so no creative conflict!

David (The Pants) said...

Tyler Perry.

.......Just kidding.

I'm liking some of the suggestions.

I don't really give two shits about "would a black audience go see this" because this assumes only black people see movies with black protagonists, which is bullshitty: this is a movie for superhero movie fans. Not black people specifically. I don't give a flying fuck about getting black audiences, I care about getting audiences.

David (The Pants) said...

Also, I knew about this since I saw Iron Man 2 for the third time.

Nathan said...

@Dave from Canada and Anonymous 8.

Heh. Yea I'm a troper too.

The thing is though there are some reasons that the other various super-genius characters in the Marvel Universe have to not change the status quo too much.

Reed DOES in fact release his various technological miracles to the public. They just take a long time to filter down to the people at large because;
A) It takes a really long time for anyone who isn't a protagonist in the MU to catch up to the sort of stuff that he does.

B) Due to budget problems he sells most of his patents to large companies and it's in their best interests to pair out the development's slowly. (IE: Apple with their various Iphone releases.)

C) The stuff he releases is REALLY expensive.

Meaning that though he's an arsehole (Reed Richards not being the nicest guy around? I'm shocked.) it's an understandable arsehole. (The big problem here is that he's been selling his high tech inventions for what? Twenty years in universe and sixty without? We should have seen some kind of change by now.)

Tony releases most of his tech through Stark Corp (Or whatever it's called. I can never remember.) and is charging corprate rates and the like for it's use and despite his rather famous dickery does make large charity donations and tried to move SHIELD into a slightly less militaristic mindset when he became director.

Pym (I think. I'm not much of an Ant Man fan. Though I do really like that he's the Wasp now.) is a SHIELD Scientist (Right? Again I don't really know.) and as such they control most of what he makes.

It's not great justification given the Marvel timeline but it does make a certain amount of sense and the various writers involved admit to their inability to help as being incharacter "foibles" rather than a simple admission of moral superiority.

Black Panther however? He can deligate and he has an entire country with which he can do good with (A country that I would like to add has the second highest standard of living in the WORLD. [Just behind Latveria. Sometimes...]) and refuses to even extend his full capacity of humanitarian aid to parts of the world that wouldn't effect the Marvel status quo.

Again. **** him.

Anubis C. Soundwave said...

As long as MARVEL doesn't use the BET/Reginald Hudlin run of Black Panther, I think we have a decent movie.