Interview: ‘Black Panther’ Director Ryan Coogler On Working With Michael B. Jordan As A Villain

Black Panther Michael B Jordan Ryan Coogler Erik KillmongerMarvel’s Black Panther is strutting its way into theaters this month and it’s a pretty historic movie. Its predominantly black cast is irregular for a film of its size and budget, so it’s a pretty groundbreaking project. The astounding cast is met with behind-the-scenes talent that matches their performing caliber. With producers like Kevin Feige, and an Academy Award nominated cinematographer in Rachel Morrison, you’d think that the top tier talent would stop there. But nope, not at all. Marvel has already gone all out with Black Panther, so having one of the hottest directors out there on this project would be a no brainer. Ryan Coogler, who’s coming fresh off of two critically acclaimed films with Creed and Fruitvale Station, has officially birthed a monster with Black Panther.

Black Panther is already breaking records and it hasn’t even hit theaters yet. The film is now Fandango’s top-selling comic book movie to date, beating out all previous superhero movies in presales. It is possible that Black Panther may even break previous February box office records held by Deadpool. All the wheels are in motion and there is no stopping Marvel with its next big hit. During press rounds for the film, we got a chance to interview with director Ryan Coogler and he opened up on his process with the film, whether he’d do a sequel, working with Michael B. Jordan in a very different capacity, the stunts and the women of Black Panther.

How did the weight and the responsibilities of making sure it was a great movie feel? Did you feel like you had to do it for the culture? 

“Of course. I think you feel all of that weight. You feel all of that pressure. What I try to do is to not focus on it and if I do focus on it, let it be a positive motivation as opposed to a negative one.”

Would you return to direct a sequel if they asked and do you have a storyline in mind for that?

“For me, right now, I’m literally just finishing up the film. We’re still doing a little bit of work here and there in terms of like making sure everything is good. My mind is still very much on this film. I’m not really good at multitasking. I’m a “one movie at a time” kind of guy. I’d have to see this through and then have some perspective before I can properly answer that question.”

I thought that Michael B. Jordan was one of the best villains I’ve ever seen in a Marvel movie or a super hero movie in general. I know you’ve worked with him twice before, how was it directing him as a villain as opposed to a protagonist in Black Panther?

“It was interesting. It was complicated in some ways but pretty much the same in others. This is the first film I made where Mike wasn’t the main character so that was a little bit of a learning curve for both of us in terms of our relationship, in terms of working with each other. The role of being an antagonist is something that’s brand new to him. This idea of playing somebody that the audience is supposed to be against or at least have conflicting feelings towards. His greatest talent is his charisma which kinda transfers to empathy and likeability so what we wanted to do as filmmakers is to turn that on its head, push Mike into trying some new stuff and see if we could use Mike’s charisma as a secret weapon with the guy who has some pretty horrific intentions.”

I read a story last night that you wanted to put one of the Young Avengers in Black Panther. Were there any other characters that you would have like to put in this film but couldn’t?

“No. I mean Patriot, Elijah Bradley, was really the main one who was in a version of Joe [Robert Cole] and I’s script at one point, but we took him out of the film so that we could focus more on the main characters. It was an interesting thing. I remember back two years ago when we were toying with the idea of him being in the movie.”

Last question. There were some pretty crazy stunts involving the women of the film. How was it to direct that and put them at the forefront of the film like they were?

“It was great. In terms of the stunts, we had an amazing stunt team. We had a guy named Andy Gill who is incredible, and Jonathan Eusebio who was another of the guys we worked with who was fantastic in terms of choreography and getting everything dialed in. It was a hunt for the most athletic and gifted women in the area of stunt work, martial arts and dance. We put everybody, actors included, through boot camp. They were working out constantly and learning their choreography, getting comfortable with the weaponry.

These actresses that we have in this film are really talented and their passion — they gave it their all. It was fantastic. It was great to be involved with Lupita Nyong’o’s first real fight scene. She’s got a bunch of them in it. That was the exciting thing to me as a filmmaker and director. I feel like if this film is a part of opening up that door for more scenes with high intense action centered around women, I’ll be all for it.”

What do you guys guys think of Ryan Coogler’s comments? Are you excited to see Black Panther? Sound off in the comments section below.

The film features a cast that includes Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa (Black Panther), Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross, Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Forest Whitaker as Zuri, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Florence Kasumba as Ayo, John Kani as T’Chaka, Sterling K. Brown as N’Jobu, Michael B. Jordan as Erik Kilmonger, Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue, and Winston Duke as M’Baku (Man-Ape). In addition, Atandwa Kani has been cast in an unspecified role. Here’s the film’s official synopsis:

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther follows T’Challa (Boseman) who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.”

Black Panther hits theaters on February 16, 2018.

10 Ways The X-Men Could Be Integrated Into The Marvel Cinematic Universe

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Marvel Avengers X-Men
We have yet to learn exactly when Marvel plan on bringing their newest acquisitions, the X-Men and Fantastic Four, into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it will require a lot of thinking in order to get it right.

With Avengers: Infinity War and its yet-to-be titled sequel rapidly approaching, it makes sense that we won’t see any new characters until after those movies, but it’s exciting to think they could already be on our screens in just over a year.

Hit Next to read ten ways that Marvel could possibly integrate the X-Men into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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Nate Brail

Nate Brail

Executive Editor. Lion. Geek. Friendly neighborhood A-Hole Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @NateBrail

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