We all saw The Avengers; let’s not lie to ourselves here. It’s the third highest grossing film of all time, and we are the reason for that. As of earlier this month Joss Whedon was confirmed as returning to direct the sequel, with the film due to hit theatres on May 1st, 2015.
With a bit of a wait between movies, a buffer of films is currently in the works, including sequels Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World, and, probably the most highly anticipated, Iron Man 3. Also on the docket is the spacefaring super-group Guardians of the Galaxy.
All of this news pleases me. What’s problematic is that when researching this article I found out that the Marvel Studios have a model of “releasing just two films per year.” So let’s see what we have here:
- Iron Man 3 – May 3rd, 2013
- Thor: The Dark World – November 8th, 2013
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier – April 4th, 2014
- Guardians of the Galaxy – August 1st, 2014
With those four films taking up the next two years a horrifying fact emerges:
Let me back up a little. Black Panther is, as comic book fans know, T’challa, the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. It is an extremely technologically advanced country, and the character himself has a PhD in physics, as well as being a master hunter, martial artist, inventor, and politician. On top of that he wears a suit made of vibranium, the same stuff Captain America’s shield is made of. He’s like if Batman were also the president and he is awesome.
Adding the Black Panther to the Avengers’ roster is not only has precedence in the comics, but it would also add the much-needed diversity that the first film was so sorely lacking. Marvel Studios co-president Louis D’Esposito discussed the possibility of a film starring the Wakandan king by admitting that:
“He has a lot of the same characteristics of a Captain America: great character, good values,”
Which is true. But he doesn’t stop there, going on to say :
“But it’s a little more difficult, maybe, creating [a world like Wakanda]. It’s always easier basing it here. For instance, ‘Iron Man 3’ is rooted right here in Los Angeles and New York. When you bring in other worlds, you’re always faced with those difficulties.”
Cue outrage from fans everywhere. The general argument against the statement above being that a sizeable portion of Thor took place in Asgard. Asgard, the mystical dwelling of the Norse gods. But playing devil’s advocate, as I try to do, perhaps Marvel execs are afraid of portraying Africa badly. Counterpoint: Wakanda is a pretty well-to-do place. Point: maybe they’re afraid of portraying the continent insincerely? Counterpoint: it’s a comic book movie. Point: but, but, but . . . Counterpoint:
Djimon Honsou is a number of things. An immensely talented Beninese American actor is one. The guy everyone wants to play the Black Panther is another. Honsou actually voiced the character for a short-lived TV series on BET which was essentially a motion comic.
Honsou himself has said in a 2010 interview with MovieWeb.com that:
“It is true that I have said certain things about it some time ago and that I would love to play the Black Panther. Also the opportunity came to do the voice over for the animation so I did that, maybe in the hopes that one-day they would finally get around to doing a movie. We have so many super heroes, but none that really defines the African American. I thought it could definitely happen and I have tried to push that envelope before.”
And if that wasn’t enough, Stan Lee himself is on the record as answering the question “What obscure characters would you like to see adapted into a big budget film?” in an AmA [Ask Me Anything] on reddit. His answer was this:
“Black Panther. He’s not too obscure, I hope.”
If the fans, the actor, and Stan “The Man” Lee [who also co-created the character] are all pushing for this there’s really no reason it should not or cannot happen. All that’s standing in the way are a bunch of executives too willing to take the way that’s “always easier.”