Screenwriter Joe Robert Cole recently sat down for an extensive interview with Mother Jones, wherein he discussed mainly two hot topics: the upcoming Marvel film BLACK PANTHER, and the diversity problem in Hollywood.
Of course, Black Panther is a character that Marvel has been planning to bring to the big screen for quite some time. The character will be making his debut in this year’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, and his standalone feature is set to hit theaters in February of 2018. Here’s what Cole had to say in regards to the film and his work on it.
“BLACK PANTHER is a historic opportunity to be a part of something important and special, particularly at a time when African Americans are affirming their identities while dealing with vilification and dehumanization. The image of a black hero on this scale is just really exciting. When I was a kid, I would change superheroes’ names: Instead of James Bond, I was James Black. Instead of Batman, I was Blackman. And I have a three-year-old son. My son will be five when Black Panther comes out. That puts it all into perspective for me.
We’re in the process of figuring many of those things out. I think approaching the movie from a perspective that is rooted in the cultures of the continent is important.”
There’s also no question that in America, we are facingsome serious racial tension–more than we have in a long time. With this in mind, the outlet asked if they’d be implementing any of that perspective into the film.
“Personallyâ€”and Ryan [Coogler] and Nate Moore, the executive producerâ€”we all are cognizant of what’s going on in the world, in black communities, and in our country. We are aware of the importance of that, and the platform this movie provides us with. But I can’t give you the specifics.”
One of the biggest things about the character of Black Panther is his native country of Wakanda. Unlike other countries in Africa, Wakanda is technologically advanced. But how would they portray this technology in the film? After all, this is a country that developed internally, so all the tech wouldn’t necessarily have a Western fingerprint on it.
“That’s one of the many questions that excite me. I think you try to extrapolate from the early civilizations and cultures of the continent, kind of looking for unique ways they set themselves apart from Western civilizations, and then pursue those avenues technologically and see where that takes you.”
And we can’t have a conversation about Black Panther without tapping into the subject of diversity. Here’s what the writer had to say about the discrimination within Hollywood.
“Historically, opportunity has been afforded to a limited pool of people, excluding people of color and women. That doesn’t diminish the talent or hard work of the people within that pool, but it does narrow the field of stories that have been told, and of the creative ideas and perspectives out there. And this problem compounds itself by limiting the number of people in the pipeline to attain the experience to do larger movies or get jobs so they can familiarize themselves with a studio head and get the opportunity to deliver and impressâ€”or maybe direct a smaller movie. It will take a considerable amount of time to rectify. It’s very difficult because it starts at the top.
I had two smaller scripts that I had written with full black casts. And people loved the scripts, but nobody would fund them. Those roles and stories are out there. But unless you have the money to finance movies on your own, you’re beholden to others, and that is a very big limiting factor.”
Ultimately, Cole acknowledges that the intent isn’t malicious, but rather an limited perspective of those making decisions up top.
“Not enough diverse voices in the room. The individuals who made those movies may not have malicious intentâ€”they just don’t know. There wasn’t that person going, “This isn’t acceptable. This is disrespectful. This isn’t accurate.” I wish I had been in the room. I would have put Chancellor Williams’ The Destruction of Black Civilization on the table. [Laughs.] “Read this book and then let’s discuss it.” Because then we can figure out a happy medium.”
What’re your thoughts on Cole’s comments? Let us know in the comments down below!
Black Panther makes his big screen debut in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, which hits theaters on May 6, 2016!
SOURCE: Mother Jones