The only man having more of a moment than T’Challa aka Black Panther – thanks to the work of acclaimed writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and artist Brian Stelfreeze’s ongoing comic run and Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal in Captain America: Civil War – is Ryan Coogler, the director of the character’s upcoming solo film. Speaking with Vulture at Comic-Con after Saturday’s exemplary Marvel panel, Coogler confirmed that Coates’ writings, not only his work on Black Panther but his journalism and non-fiction, were influencing the script he is co-writing with Jon Robert Cole.
“Oh, I love it, man,” the filmmaker said when I asked him what he thinks of the series. “I mean, he’s my favorite writer right now in the world. Since being turned on to his work, I’m reading everything that he does. His nonfiction work, especially. But what he’s doing with Panther is just incredible. You can really see his background as a poet in some of the dialogue. And what Brian Stelfreeze is doing with the visuals in that book. And some of the questions that it’s asking. It’s just inspiring for [co-screenwriter] Joe Robert Cole and myself.”
Coogler confirmed that the comic has “absolutely” influenced the film, particularly in its portrayal of T’Challa as a flawed leader facing hard choices.
“What’s so great about Panther is he’s a superhero who, if you grab him and ask him if he’s a superhero, he’ll tell you, ‘No.’ He sees himself as a politician, as a leader in his country. It just so happens that the country is a warrior-based nation where the leaders have to be warriors, as well, so sometimes he has to go fight. I think starting at that is really so interesting. If you look at that, anything that’s happening in the world right now, or in the world in the past, in the political realm and how people deal with each other, it can be an inspiration.”
I’m imagining Game of Thrones-meets-Captain America: The Winter Soldier through the Coogler lens and am somehow more overcome for joy than before. This film’s PR has been effortless but that’s what happens when you consistently hire great people (like the recently-announced Danai Gurira. Michonne!)
Coogler’s Black Panther hits theaters February 16, 2018 and is confirmed to star Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira. Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier), Andy Serkis (Ulysses Klaue) and Martin Freeman (Everett Ross) are rumored, but not confirmed.