Marvel has been absolutely mum on the matter of just who might end up helming the Black Panther film adaptation, planned for 2018, but that hasn’t stopped the wild speculation train from barreling out of the station full speed. Case in point, recent rumors over the last month claiming that Selma director Ava DuVernay was a frontrunner for the job. A cool idea to be sure — Selma is fantastic. But though DuVernay did talk to Marvel, she’s confirmed in an interview with Essence that she didn’t take it.
The reason? “I think I’ll just say we had different ideas about what the story would be,” DuVernay said in the interview, later adding that “in the end, it comes down to story and perspective. And we just didn’t see eye to eye. Better for me to realize that now than cite creative differences later.”
That sounds a lot like a reference to last year’s Ant-Man drama, which saw Edgar Wright bail out of the director gig, or the similar situation back in 2011 with Patty Jenkins and Thor: The Dark World. Perhaps, much like Wright, DuVernay wasn’t all that keen on making a film that, by design, would require her to share a lot of creative control with Marvel Cinematic Universe maestro Kevin Feige. Further comments suggest as much. “Marvel has a certain way of doing things,” she said, adding diplomatically that “I think they’re fantastic and a lot of people love what they do. I loved that they reached out to me.”
DuVernay did add that she’s a fan of the character, and that she’ll “be first in line to see” the eventual film.
It’s widely assumed that Marvel will eventually pick someone of color to helm the film. The character was the first black superhero in mainstream comics, and soon will be the first black character to headline a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. (Note however that he was not named after the Black Panther Party, debuting three months before it was formed). The studio still has plenty of time, however, to make its choice. Black Panther is slated for release on July 6, 2018.
Meanwhile, the character, played by Chadwick Boseman, is set to debut in the MCU in next year’s Captain America: Civil War.