Black Panther will finally bring the historic Marvel Comics hero to the big screen as the lead star after debuting in a supporting role in Captain America: Civil War. While the eponymous King’s first standalone film may be long overdue, this was not Hollywood’s first attempt at adapting the Black Panther comic for the silver screen. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Blade star Wesley Snipes discussed his abandoned Black Panther film and the circumstances that held the project back from entering production.
Snipes explained why the character resonated with him and commented on the social importance of the comic:
“I think Black Panther spoke to me because he was noble, and he was the antithesis of the stereotypes presented and portrayed about Africans, African history and the great kingdoms of Africa. It had cultural significance, social significance. It was something that the black community and the white community hadn’t seen before.”
Despite having received the blessing of Black Panther co-creator Stan Lee and setting Columbia as the film’s studio, Snipes encountered difficulties finding the right director and writer for the project. Among the contenders to helm the film was Boyz n the Hood director John Singleton, who wanted to involve the titular hero in the civil rights movement, according to Snipes:
“I laid on him my vision of the film being closer to what you see now: the whole world of Africa being a hidden, highly technically advanced society, cloaked by a force field, Vibranium. John was like, ‘Nah! Hah! Hah! See, he’s got the spirit of the Black Panther, but he is trying to get his son to join the [civil rights activist] organization. And he and his son have a problem, and they have some strife because he is trying to be politically correct and his son wants to be a knucklehead.’”
While the current cinematic version of Black Panther will don a technologically advanced suit, Snipes recalls his costume ideas being simpler:
“Actually, I figured it would be a leotard. A leotard with maybe some little cat ears on it. I would have to be in shape and just be straight bodied up. I never imagined anything more than a leotard at the time, which I didn’t have a problem with because I started out as a dancer.”
Despite Snipes’ best efforts, the project could never get off the ground with the limits of CGI being one of the reasons:
“Ultimately, we couldn’t find the right combination of script and director and, also at the time, we were so far ahead of the game in the thinking, the technology wasn’t there to do what they had already created in the comic book.”
While it would have been interesting to see Wesley Snipes’ vision for the project, especially considering his passion for the character, fans would have to wait until 2018 to finally see the iconic Marvel hero star in his own feature film. Of course, while the project may have failed to get off the ground, it did lead to Snipes taking on the role of Blade, a film many consider to have kicked-started the current superhero film phenomena.
Directed by Ryan Coogler, the film stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Florence Kasumba, Sterling K. Brown, Andy Serkis and John Kan.
Black Panther will be released in theaters on February 16, 2018.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter