Ava DuVernay On Why ‘Black Panther’ Is “Perfect” For Ryan Coogler

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Before Marvel hired acclaimed filmmaker Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station and Creed) to direct the standalone Black Panther movie starring Chadwick Boseman as the titular hero, another promising filmmaker was a frontrunner. Ava DuVernay, who directed the phenomenal Martin Luther King Jr. biopic Selma was approached to potentially direct, but despite finding the prospect interesting, DuVernay turned down the job.

DuVernay did not sign on to direct Black Panther because she and Marvel had different ideas for what the story should be. The filmmaker and studio both amicably parted ways, and DuVernay felt grateful that they reached out to her.

The filmmaker was recently asked about what interested her in the project in the first place regardless of her turning the job down. DuVernay then reflected back to when she was still in the running to bring Wakanda to life on the big screen:

It’s the first major feature film featuring a black superhero, that was really interesting to me. You have to explore all aspects of any kind of directing opportunity and so for me, it wasn’t right for me.

She then went on to sing praises of the film’s director, Ryan Coogler:

But it’s perfect for Ryan Coogler. I mean, perfect for Ryan Coogler, a great friend of mine. He’s already killing it. Every time I talk to him I’m just blown away by some of the things they’re talking about. Fans are over the moon already, I don’t know if you’ve seen the hashtag trending every time anything Black Panther comes out, #BlackPantherSoLit. I’m the first one out there typing away. I’m already in line actually, already in line for Black Panther, so excited for it.

I would have loved to see what Ava DuVernay’s directorial sensibilities could have translated into a comic book film, especially one featuring one of the most prominent black superheroes in comic book history. But I cannot help but respect her for sticking to her own intuition while also voicing her excitement that an extraordinary talent like Coogler has the job. Either way, these are two filmmakers that fans should be on the look out for no matter what. They both signal the next generation of incredible directors, and their significance in the industry is important for more stories like Black Panther to be told on a massive scale.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Noah Villaverde

Noah Villaverde

Cinema lover. Saxophone player. Coffee consumer. Chronic complainer. Oh, I also write. #TeamHeroic

  • SAMURAI36

    Funny that Duvernay is singing this film’s praises, yet she herself turned it down because it didn’t fit her own creative sensibilities.

    • 39steps

      Who’s this loser?

    • Axxell

      Funny that Michelle MacLaren has yet to chime in on how wonderful WB’s “director-driven” approach is. Neither has Seth Grahame-Smith, oddly enough…

    • Worldmind

      It’s quite possible to be excited for someone else’s project. Is she only allowed to enjoy her own films? Well that sucks.

      • SAMURAI36

        That wasn’t my point. She explicitly turned down Marvel, for not-so-nice reasons. Now it’s like that never even happened, and now she’s congratulating Coogler like he just won the lottery. That’s what’s very strange to me.

        • Worldmind

          Well I’m not sure whta those not-so-nice reasons were, but it’s not like anyone’s forgetting that she was courted for the job. That’s the whole point of this article. Now clearly the Marvel Overlords had an idea of what sort of direction for this movie, before hiring Coogler, and it didn’t chime with DuVernay. Ryan’s come in and I’m betting he’s brought his own ideas of what HE wants to do. Ava has heard these ideas and they’re way cool, I guess!

          • SAMURAI36

            Ava specifically stated that Marvel wasn’t someone she wanted to “get in bed with”. There’s no way that I would publicly state that there’s a woman that I wouldn’t want to get in bed with, but then wish my best friend all the best when he gets in bed with her.

            That’s strange, anyway you paint it.

            I get that you are all in with Marvel, and you think they can do no wrong, but not everybody shares that POV.

          • Worldmind

            Marvel done made plenty of mis-steps. The phrase ‘get in bed with’ is not directly sexual (apart from when it is LOL) The feeling I get is she just doesn’t want to do a superhero movie, she mighta been interested at a certain level, but didn’t appeal to her. I just hope Marvel let Coogler tell the story he wants to tell.

          • SAMURAI36

            Uhmm, I know it’s not sexual. I was just continuing with the metaphor.

            You’re making alot of assumptions about her statements and intentions, that don’t match what she actually said.She was very clear in her statements.

            She definitely wanted to do BP in the beginning of the venture. I would highly suggest that you look up what she actually said for yourself.

          • Worldmind

            So her and Marvel didn’t see eye to eye, that’s what it boils down to. Which is sad. But going back to your original comment, I don’t get why it’s funny she’s excited for what Ryan Coogler’s cooking up, that’s all

          • SAMURAI36

            It’s not just not seeing eye to eye, that’s the issue. Ava is known for being quite outspoken. She could have just said “we had creative differences”, and kept it moving. But the words she stated were quite potent, even if in a very savvy fashion.

            But I explained why it’s weird in my earlier statement. I personally wouldn’t congratulate my best friend, for stepping into something that I myself wouldn’t step into.

            But maybe she thinks that Coogler’s style is more appropriate for Marvel, who knows.

          • Bruce Norris

            Dude, does this sound better? “I went out with this female a couple of times and realised we are not a great fit. But, you might like her. I think the two of you have a lot in common…And no, we didn’t sleep together.”

          • SAMURAI36

            LOL, why would it need to “sound better”? Especially when that doesn’t match what I told everybody else prior? Not sure why folks have this need to soften the blow for Marvel.

            And plus, I’d be asking, “why weren’t you a great fit? I know you pretty well, & for you to not dig a chick, something’s gotta be off about her. Plus, we tend to like the same kinds of women anyway”.

            It’s more like “dude, this b!+¢# is crazy. She’s possessive as h#ll, has to have things her way, & even though she’s pretty, she’s real immature & underhanded. She only likes weak-minded dudes that she thinks she can control. She’s already kicked nearly a dozen other dudes to the curb, so just be careful”.

          • Bruce Norris

            LOL, you are a funny person.

          • Fenix

            You put so much effort into trying to feel make yourself feel good about your choice to back a second rate “cinematic universe”.

          • Fenix

            Just a sad bitter minority you count yourself among.

    • LupeX

      She’s just being supportive.

  • AJayL

    I’m so glad that there are still people mature enough to make a conscious decision to remove themselves from a project that they found interesting but didn’t feel that the fit was right, without being negative.
    Additionally, she took it a step further to praise the director and helps hype the movie of her own volition. This shows how much of a class act Ava DuVernay is.
    I’d love to see more mature behavior in Hollywood, in politics, and on the internet.

    • SAMURAI36

      This sounds like a subliminal thrown at me, so I’d like to respond.

      I agree, that Ava is 100% class act. Which is likely one of the reasons she didn’t “get in bed with” (again, HER words) Marvel in the first place.

      But all I’m doing, is holding her to her words. Words that did not paint Marvel in a kind light. Was she classy when she made that statement?

      Also, is she being supportive of her friend, as others have stated? Sure, I’ll concede to that. She’s a socially conscious Black Woman, who is showing solidarity with a socially conscious Black Man. That needs to happen more often, IMO.

      Is she being diplomatic with her words, in regards to Marvel now? Absolutely. Beyond being classy, she is also d&mned smart. But that doesn’t negate the fact that there’s likely no love lost between her & Marvel. And THAT is the part that I’m addressing.

      And, I’m more than certain, that while she’s making these diplomatic platitudes to Marvel, she’s likely had a convo with her colleague Cooler behind closed doors.

      • AJayL

        It wasn’t, but thanks for your attention.

        • SAMURAI36

          It wasn’t what?

          • Toologist

            It wasn’t a subliminal thrown at you. Jesus.

          • reaver2016

            It wasn’t a subliminal thrown at you. Jesus.

  • Worldmind

    Feel sad that Blade doesn’t get props for being one of the first major black superhero movies, it’s kind of over-looked. And yet it helped start the comicbook-movie boom we have now

    • w0undedmagic

      He doesn’t get props because he’s not a “superhero”. A comic book character? Yes, but not a superhero. Blade is an action/horror movie-and no, not in the same way pretentious people call Winter Soldier a “70s political thriller”. Would you call Preacher or Walking Dead a superhero tv show? It is true that Blade has crossed paths WITH superheroes, but Batman has fought Dracula-would you call Dracula a “supervillain”? Nah.

      Blade is not a superhero film. Blade is a horror/action film based on a comic book.

      • LupeX

        But Christopher Nolan’s Batman is not a superhero either, a comicbook character? Yes.. But not a superhero.

        • SAMURAI36

          Bit it’s based on a recognizable superhero. Blade, for as food as it was, was neither a superhero, nor recognizable.

          • LupeX

            Based on, very true, but it’s a Batman that could never interact with any Superheroes.

        • SAMURAI36

          Not to mention, Nolan’s rendition, as great as it was, is not the only interpretation of Batman there is. Especially on the big screen.

        • w0undedmagic

          I don’t think you understand my point. Or you are attempting sarcasm. Oh well.

          • LupeX

            Not sarcasm. Iv always contended that TDK isnt a Superhero franchise. It is like 300 or Road to Perdition or V for Vendetta or Superbad. Nolan himself said that Superman could not exist in the World he created, neither could Wonder Woman or Green Lantern.
            Im not sure why people skip over this FACT. It’s just somethign that’s true and is worth factoring into discussions

      • Worldmind

        OMG. And YOU’RE calling out people for being pretentious? I….can’t….even…….

        • SAMURAI36

          Can’t even what? He hit it right on the nose.

        • w0undedmagic

          You…can’t…even….make a counter argument? Figures.

          • Worldmind

            Blade is a man with super-human powers who combats evil. Yes, he’s a superhero. Blade is a superhero film. I would also classify Count Dracula as a supervillain, and I don’t just mean some Batman incarnation, I mean the original Bram Stoker creation, I don’t see why you couldn’t call him so. I’ll clarify my original comment: Blade was the first major black *comic-book* superhero movie.

          • w0undedmagic

            “I would also classify Dracula as a supervillain”

            Lol, so you don’t have a counter-argument.

            So, do you think Huck Finn v Tom Sawyer will be enough to kickstart the Cinematic Twainverse? Or do you think they should each get their own super-solo film first? ???

          • SAMURAI36

            LMFAO.

          • SAMURAI36

            So any and everyone/thing with powers is now a superhero? So Ghostbusters are now Superheroes too? Is Jason Bourne a superhero too? Is Harry Potter a Superhero too?

            Labeling any and everything “superhero” cheapens the specialness of superheroes.

          • SAMURAI36

            LMAO. Priceless.

  • Thanostic

    This seems like much ado about nothing. Peyton Reed wasn’t the original director for Ant-Man, and that movie turned out fine and was well received, even if it’s not one of my favorites. Since Black Panther is almost certainly a better character, with richer material to work with, than Ant-Man, I’m sure this movie will be more than fine.

    • SAMURAI36

      Umm, Ant-Man kinda flopped. $500M WW is nobody’s idea of a success, especially when everything in Phase 2 made north of $600M (just barely for Thor2, bit I’ll save that tongue lashing for another time).

      And see, this is exactly the issue that I have with the Marvel apologists. They are the first ones to jump on the anti-DC bandwagon, with some “it’s gotta do a $B to break even!” nonsense, but this film didn’t even make its money back, & here folks are, trying to paint this pony as a race horse.
      This is exactly the bias & cognitive dissonance that I’m talking about. The reality is, from a financial POV, half of the MCU has “flopped”, according to the industry’s standards.

      • Toologist

        …Um, I hate to break it to you, but $519 million worldwide is in no way a financial flop. Especially when the movie itself had a budget of $130 million. It made a profit, and by that definition, it did well.

        Wherever you got your facts from about it not making its money back is complete bull****.

        • SAMURAI36

          Perhaps you should do more research. But I’m not gonna re-type everything I just posted, I’ll just copy/paste it here:

          And this (bold, underlined) is the cognitive dissonance that I’m talking about. So now, $130M is all this movie costed Marvel? All of a sudden, this movie didn’t have a marketing budget?

          Let’s assume that the marketing budget was half of what the production budget was. That brings it to $200M. Plus, when you take into consideration that the film only made $180M domestic, and $330M foreign, and the fact that studios only get a fraction of the box office, then this film did not turn a profit, and it most certainly did flop.

          But the reason why this is cognitive dissonance, is because this is the same “logic” people have been trying to use against the DCEU.

          • Toologist

            It’s been known that $130 M included both production and marketing. We would’ve already known otherwise. What you’re saying is all based on your own conjecture. If Marvel Studios didn’t say it was a flop, then it’s not a flop. Same with how Warner Bros. and DC said that BvS wasn’t a flop at over $900 M, even when they were projecting to make over a billion.

            You tell me to do research, while your research is based off something that you’re just assuming, simply because you don’t believe the movie had a $130 M budget.

            But alas, everyone’s an expert on the Internet, am I right? Pssh.

          • Toologist

            *Sees “One other person is typing…”*

            Don’t even bother. Knowing you, we’re just going around in circles.

          • SAMURAI36

            In other words, don’t keep responding with common sense and logic; my little brain can’t take it.

            Post the numbers and links that prove your point, and I’ll gladly shut up. Otherwise, I’m calling you a liar.

          • Toologist

            You call just about everyone you argue with on these HH threads a liar anyway, regardless of whatever proof/evidence they may have, because they don’t suit your narrative, so **** you.

          • SAMURAI36

            Wow, yet another idiot to add to my block list. Buh-bye now, liar.

          • Toologist

            Thanks for proving how pathetic you are. Piece of ****.

          • Toologist

            And also, whenever you decide to unblock me so you can see what I had to say (and I know you will eventually), check this article out. Your answers are in there.

            http://moviepilot.com/posts/3860610

          • Toologist

            http://www.forbes.com/sites/scottmendelson/2015/10/29/box-office-ant-man-tops-500-million-worldwide-can-marvel-be-saved/#22c9588649b0

            As of today, Ant-Man has officially crossed the $500 million mark at the worldwide box office. The Marvel movie is on a terrific run in China, where it has grossed $86.4 million in its first 12 days, and it crossed the magical half-billion mark yesterday. It has earned $179m domestic thus far off a $57m debut, making it one of Marvel’s leggier films.

            Ant-Man is Walt Disney’s fourth film to cross $500m worldwide in 2015, with at least two likely contenders (The Good Dinosaur and The Force Awakens) still to go for the year. With Ant-Man and the Wasp scheduled for 2018, and with Peyton Reed apparently returning for the sequel, the film can no longer remotely be discussed in terms of being a flop or a disappointment. Well, call it whatever you want, but you’d just sound silly.

          • Toologist

            http://moviepilot.com/posts/3860610

            https://images-cdn.moviepilot.com/image/upload/c_limit,h_1200,q_auto,w_960/qqiernmox3iknwbzyjeu.jpg

            http://www.forbes.com/sites/scottmendelson/2015/10/29/box-office-ant-man-tops-500-million-worldwide-can-marvel-be-saved/#22c9588649b0

            “As of today, Ant-Man has officially crossed the $500 million mark at the worldwide box office. The Marvel movie is on a terrific run in China, where it has grossed $86.4 million in its first 12 days, and it crossed the magical half-billion mark yesterday. It has earned $179m domestic thus far off a $57m debut, making it one of Marvel’s leggier films.

            Ant-Man is Walt Disney’s fourth film to cross $500m worldwide in 2015, with at least two likely contenders (The Good Dinosaur and The Force Awakens) still to go for the year. With Ant-Man and the Wasp scheduled for 2018, and with Peyton Reed apparently returning for the sequel, the film can no longer remotely be discussed in terms of being a flop or a disappointment. Well, call it whatever you want, but you’d just sound silly.”

            http://www.webcitation.org/6bQ5OYbCx

            “The studio and Marvel spent more on Ant-Man ($34.8 million) than on Avengers: Age of Ultron ($26.9 million) since the former was a new property.”

            So yes, I was wrong about the marketing budget being included. My mistake. I’ll concede on that one.

            Nonetheless, this movie is by no definition a flop. Marvel Studios made a profit of $100 million, which Marvel Studios get 50%. There’s also this:

            http://issuu.com/pmcderek/docs/no._14_ant-man/1?e=5873864/34306442

            So please, enough with the mental gymnastics, you *liar*.

          • Toologist
          • SAMURAI36

            Let’s examine the contents of these links, shall we?

            http://moviepilot.com/posts/3860610

            This “list” doesn’t say what you think (or seem to be implying) that it says. First off, it doesn’t account for the ENTIRE budget of these films. It goes out of its way to highlight BVS’s $400M budget (which includes marketing), but not the budgets of the other films on the list.

            This is extremely deceptive, and this is a perfect example of the biased reporting that happens between DC and Marvel.

            http://www.forbes.com/sites/sc

            What is it that you are looking to cite from this article, as proof of? It doesn’t list the total budget, and it even tries hard to justify this film’s box office gross:

            Ant-Man is neither a giant flop nor a giant hit.

            And once again, it doesn’t account for HOW the box office works, which I’ve explained more than once here. Why a site called “moviepilot” doesn’t know that studios only get a percentage of box office grosses, is beyond me.

            And finally:

            http://deadline.com/2016/03/an

            Okay, so this is a better list, but it STILL doesn’t list the marketing budget.

            But someone else posted the budget, so here it is:

            http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/summer-movie-ad-buys-mission-821043

            The studio and Marvel spent more on Ant-Man ($34.8 million) than on Avengers: Age of Ultron ($26.9 million) since the former was a new property.

            So I’d guess-timated $65M for the budget, and I was off. But I at least acknowledged that there was a separate budget, which is NOT what you and others here did.

            In the meantime, you posted this list, but apparently you didn’t even read it entirely. According to that list, there are ALOT more expenses that this movie incurred, which put the film well into the red, against the box office gross.

            $520M (box office gross) – $370M (total budget, including $35M marketing = $150M.

            However, since, as we all know, studios take home half the domestic box office, then should actually be $430M – $370M = $60.

            Moreover, the problem with this list, is that it seeks to add everything but the kitchen sink to the list, in order to make this film seem like anything but the flop that it is.

            Since when do we start adding video rentals and TV airings as a part of the box office gross?

            Mind you, I have no probs with including ALL grosses associated with a film as part of the official cume, but it seems that sites that report on the box office, only do this for some films and not for others.

            This is bias, plain and simple. Why is ANY site reporting on the success of BVS in April, when the film had only been out for 2 weeks?

            Oh, and since you said “flops don’t get sequels”, I have the perfect examples:

            Green Lantern, Fantastic Four.

          • reaver2016

            Also, if Ant-Man was a flop with $519 mil off a $130 mil budget, then so was:

            Mad Max: Fury Road ($378 mil, $150 mil budget)
            Thor ($449 mil, $150 mil budget)
            Star Trek 2009 ($385 mil, $140 mil budget)
            Godzilla ($529 mil, $160 mil budget)
            Wreck-It Ralph ($496 mil, $165 mil budget)
            The Revenant ($532 mil, $135 mil budget)

            Anyone who calls Ant-Man a flop is truly an idiot.

          • SAMURAI36

            It’s been known that $130 M included both production and marketing. We would’ve already known otherwise.

            WTF? What on earth are you even talking about? Marketing numbers are NEVER included in the production numbers. For any film. From any studio. Ever. $130M is strictly production, nothing more.

            But since you’re surmising, I’d like for you to provide your evidence that this number is all-inclusive? Which portion is production, and which part is marketing?

            What you’re saying is all based on your own conjecture. If Marvel Studios didn’t say it was a flop, then it’s not a flop.

            Ah yes, the Almighty, Holy Gospel from Marvel. If they say a thing, then we all may knoweth that thing is pure truth, from their holiness’ lips.

            It’s not like Marvel has dishonest CEO’s, along the lines of Ike Perlmutter. Or even Disney’s scumbag, Bob Iger.

            Oh wait…

            Same with how Warner Bros. and DC said that BvS wasn’t a flop at over $900 M, even when they were projecting to make over a billion.

            Except we knew WB’s marketing budget for BVS. So which is it?

            You tell me to do research, while your research is based off something that you’re just assuming, simply because you don’t believe the movie had a $130 M budget.

            Soooo, you’re fighting my “belief” with more “belief” of your own? How does that make you right?

            But alas, everyone’s an expert on the Internet, am I right? Pssh.

            Feel free to start posting some numbers then, Marvel Zombie. And you’d better have some links with them, to corroborate.

            But we both know you don’t have that, or else you’d have done it already.

      • Thanostic

        Come on Samurai, you know better than that. In no way was that being a Marvel apologist. Ant-Man is one of my least favorite MCU movies (in no small part because it had at least 3x more Michael Pena than it should have), but it was well-received, and there’s no debating that. It got positive reviews from critics and fans alike, and despite making “only” $519 million, it still quadrupled its budget of $130 million, so you can’t call it a flop – especially for its status as something of a niche Marvel property. I brought it up because it’s similar to BP in that they’re both sort of niche-y properties and somewhat risky because of that, so it’s a relevant comparison.

        I agree that Dr Strange is a pivotal movie for the MCU, though I think it will do at least as well as Ant-Man if for no other reason than there aren’t any superhero movies being released within a few months before or after it, so fans of the genre will want to see it. Plus, the cast is killer.

        On another note, we haven’t circled back since I saw Suicide Squad. You will be pleased to know I liked it more than I expected to, perhaps more than BvS (which, as you know, I thought was just okay even though I really wanted to like it).

        • SAMURAI36

          Come on Samurai, you know better than that. In no way was that being a Marvel apologist. Ant-Man is one of my least favorite MCU movies (in no small part because it had at least 3x more Michael Pena than it should have), but it was well-received, and there’s no debating that. It got positive reviews from critics and fans alike, and despite making “only” $519 million, it still quadrupled its budget of $130 million, so you can’t call it a flop – especially for its status as something of a niche Marvel property.

          And this (bold, underlined) is the cognitive dissonance that I’m talking about. So now, $130M is all this movie costed Marvel? All of a sudden, this movie didn’t have a marketing budget?

          Let’s assume that the marketing budget was half of what the production budget was. That brings it to $200M. Plus, when you take into consideration that the film only made $180M domestic, and $330M foreign, and the fact that studios only get a fraction of the box office, then this film did not turn a profit, and it most certainly did flop.

          But the reason why this is cognitive dissonance, is because this is the same “logic” people have been trying to use against the DCEU.

          Also, the whole “well-received at the box office” doesn’t really mean as much these days. Ghostbusters was “well-received”. Star Trek Beyond was “well-received”. That means next to nothing.

          I brought it up because it’s similar to BP in that they’re both sort of niche-y properties and somewhat risky because of that, so it’s a relevant comparison.

          I agree, but the reality is, most of Disney/Marvel’s output is going to fall into that category. Anything that’s not Marvel’s Trinity or the Avengers as an ensemble is virtually untested.

          I agree that Dr Strange is a pivotal movie for the MCU, though I think it will do at least as well as Ant-Man if for no other reason than there aren’t any superhero movies being released within a few months before or after it, so fans of the genre will want to see it. Plus, the cast is killer.

          I think people really overestimate the value of a “killer cast”. But just the same, from what I’ve seen, the only folks that are really clamoring for this film, are the Marvel diehards.

          Plus, it’s gonna get eaten alive by Fantastic Beasts, which comes out 2 weeks later.

          On another note, we haven’t circled back since I saw Suicide Squad. You will be pleased to know I liked it more than I expected to, perhaps more than BvS (which, as you know, I thought was just okay even though I really wanted to like it).

          That’s good to hear!!

      • Toologist

        Also, flops don’t get sequels.

  • Steve Steve

    I don’t like this woman. Everything she said here is so over-the-top effusive that it cannot be taken seriously. It is such a wonderful thing that Marvel didn’t go with her concept for Black Panther.

  • Toologist

    Newsflash for anyone who posts in the Heroic Hollywood comments section: don’t ever take SAMURAI36 seriously. He tries hard rationalizing every thing about DC, will antagonize anything Marvel, regardless if you’re a Marvel fan or not, and will block you and/or call you a liar if anything you say is against his pro-DC narrative.

    Contrary to his delusional opinion based on whatever arbitrary facts he wants to pull out, Ant-Man was by no means a flop. Flops don’t get sequels, for one.

  • Toologist

    Who keeps deleting my comments?