One of the seemingly insurmountable tasks filmmakers must encounter, when it comes to adapting a beloved comic book character to the big screen, is choosing which book, run, or continuity to pull from. Especially when it’s a character that’s been around for several decades, has had dozens of great iterations, and unique voices that have added their own touches to the character’s legacy. Such is the case for Ryan Coogler, who’s charged with bringing Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER to the big screen.
In a chat with Vulture, he was asked about the comics that are influencing his cinematic take on the character- who was introduced to filmgoers earlier this year in the blockbuster smash CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. Specifically, he was asked if the current run- written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze- is factoring into his vision for the BLACK PANTHER movie.
“Oh, I love it, man,” Coogler said. “I mean, heâ€™s my favorite writer right now in the world. Since being turned on to his work, Iâ€™m reading everything that he does,” the writer-director said of Coates. “His nonfiction work, especially. But what heâ€™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 itâ€™s asking. Itâ€™s just inspiring for [co-screenwriter] Joe Robert Cole and myself.“
When asked if the Coates/Stelfreeze run has influenced how he views T’Challa, aka Black Panther, Coogler says, “Absolutely, absolutely.” He then excitedly explained what he finds most interesting about the hero that hails from Wakanda- and who’ll be played by Chadwick Boseman, once again:
“Whatâ€™s so great about Panther is heâ€™s a superhero who, if you grab him and ask him if heâ€™s a superhero, heâ€™ll tell you, â€˜No.â€™ 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 thatâ€™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.”
Sounds like Coogler loves the deeper undertones in the Black Panther mythos, and wants to use them to color his take on the character.
Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER comes out on July 6, 2018.