The 1970s-Set Marvel 'Black Panther' Movie That Will Never Happen...

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by Tambay A. Obenson
March 7, 2013 5:22 PM
29 Comments
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Here's an excerpt from a Collider interview with Iron Man 3 director Shane Black and Kevin Feige (President of Production at Marvel Studios), that I thought was worth sharing on an extremely slow news day...

Collider: Are there other characters that Marvel has that you have an affinity for?  A lot of us are wondering when maybe Marvel might make an R-rated movie and that might be where you could use some of the “blue material”.  I’m just curious if you have an affinity for other characters.

Shane Black: I don’t know I always thought that certain characters could be adapted in a cool way.  I wanted to do… Quentin Tarantino kind of poisoned the well with Django... but I always thought there was a 1970’s version of Black Panther, which was [a] period that could be really cool and involved a lot of the racial tensions of that time.  That’s not going to happen.  Other Marvel movies that I really loved, or marvel comics growing up, God, mostly just the typical ones.  “Nick Fury Agent of Shield” the Strenko years.  But you can’t do them because Sam Jackson is 60 years old and he plays this sort of patriarchal figure now, but Nick Fury was what I adored growing up.  If you ever read the ones [Jim] Sterenko did for “Tales of Suspense” followed by “Nick Fury” standalone 1-8, some of the best comics ever made.

I don't know about you, but I'd be up for a 1970s-set Black Panther. Although I think a 1970s Luke Cage would be cool too. But neither is happening! And even if Tarantino hadn't "poisoned the well" as he states, I doubt that Marvel would ever go for an R-rated Black Panther movie. They'd have to first actually want to make a Black Panther movie, and that's not something that I'm certain they want to do.

We've already talked about the potential for a Black Panther movie to death, and, as I said in a previous post, I've pretty much given up expecting one to happen anytime soon, if at all. Marvel will probably explore every other superhero in its library on film, before we see standalone movies with any of its key black superheroes. Or they'll be supporting/peripheral characters in movies about other non-Black Marvel superheroes.

As for a Nick Fury movie with Samuel L. Jackson, I don't think that'll ever happen either. Not only because of Samuel L. Jackson's age, but I just never liked him for the part in the first place, and can't see a standalone movie with him as the title character.

But if not a live-action black superhero film from Marvel, maybe enough money can be raised to bring Dwayne McDuffie's/Milestone Media's creations to life.



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29 Comments

  • Riley | May 17, 2013 5:40 PMReply

    And who said nick fury has to be sam jackson? I think if they are going to do a nick fury based in present time i think he has to, but uh how about a origins story with a 20-30 year old guy who looks close enough to sam jack? Would be a great movie.

  • riley | May 17, 2013 5:38 PMReply

    Marvel knows that people will go see Black panther. Marvel knows Black Panther is super cool. Marvel knows he has a unique backstory. Marvel knows every black man comic fan wants to see this. Marvel knows he would fit in well. Marvel should make this movie.

  • Christianne Benedict | March 22, 2013 11:46 AMReply

    I would pay good money to see a Black Panther film, particularly if it was solely concerned with the problems of Africa. I'd pay to see a Luke Cage film, too, or a Daughters of the Dragon film (Misty Knight being one of my favorite characters). I'm holding out hope that the forthcoming SHEILD tv show will sample the Steranko comics, at least in passing. I don't expect to see any of this, though.

    Speaking of Steranko, I know that spelling isn't the strong point of blogging, but would it be too much to ask that "Jim Steranko" be spelled not only correctly, but consistently? This is likely Collider's laziness, but there's no reason to let it stand by letting the cut and paste go uncorrected.

  • Tom | March 22, 2013 2:43 AMReply

    Back when I initially read the books, I always saw Static and Icon as the movies to make. (I was rather disappointed by the one or two episodes I saw of Static Shock.) I still think Static would be an awesome film, one I would take my white ass (and family) to.

    Although the hero wasn't black, the setting definitely was... Jemm, Son of Saturn. One of these days, I'm writing that film!

  • Deborah | March 19, 2013 11:28 PMReply

    Blade is and will be the only black superhero to make the big screen. This is "The Highlander Principle". There can be only one. And Blade is that one.

  • Donald Cleveland | March 19, 2013 5:14 PMReply

    It was BLADE and the success of it and the THREE sequels that started "this" for Marvel. Without BLADE there is no Spider, Iron or anything-Man. (props Victor).

  • valeri | March 22, 2013 9:08 PM

    Blade aint a marvel production. When that film started filming in 1997 Marvel was bankrupt and to survive sold the rights to its characters to movie studios,like blade,spidey,x-men etc - those aint marvel studio productions, only iron man,thor,captain,hulk,avengers are marvel movies,all else is not their,only characters of their comics,not their movies. it was x-men that gave birth to superhero films,not blade. Batman and robin killed the superhero,x-men revitalized it. blade is a comic,but he has no superpowers,its more a fantasy vampire flick,just like punisher aint no superhero,neither is hellboy. and its 2! sequels,not 3,to blade.

  • Victor | March 19, 2013 4:43 PMReply

    I think most forget about the fact Blade is a marvel character and those movies did great.

  • madmonq | March 16, 2013 3:47 PMReply

    Wow. Just say "Black superheros aren't going to bring us white superhero money" and leave it at that. You can do a Nick Fury film, just use a younger actor. And if they can reboot the Hulk 3 times in 10 years they can make a half way decent Black Panther film. No wonder Iron Man 2 sucked. Asshole.

  • ACam | March 15, 2013 7:17 PMReply

    I am very late to this discussion but I thought I'd leave my two-cents anyway...

    Shane Black seems to be incorrectly conflating the political organization the Black Panther Party with T'Challa/the Black Panther whose creation apparently predated the founding of the Party.

    Black doesn't seem to be well-versed on the character if he doesn't know this. In which case, he shouldn't be making a movie about this important comic book figure.

    That said, I think it would be reductive to make a Black Panther movie set in the 1970s.

    There is a time and a place to evoke the aesthetic and feel of the American 1970s in film and T'Challa's story ain't it.

    The Black Panther's backstory offers something as cool as a secret futuristic/technologically advanced African civilization.

    Why would anyone think of setting the BP's story in 1970s America/imbuing it with the feel of 1970s America when you've got something like that to work with?

    I would question if his desire to set a BP film in the 1970s is due to a limited view of the black experience and blackness itself, but I digress. I mean his idea isn't imaginative at all.

    If anything, if a director wanted to make historical allusions in a Black Panther film it should be to the independence movements that were sweeping Africa at the time the character was created.

  • Miles Ellison | March 15, 2013 10:23 PM

    The Black Panther's backstory offers something as cool as a secret futuristic/technologically advanced African civilization.

    True, but there's been so much stereotypical crap troweled out about Africa that I doubt mainstream Hollywood is willing (or capable) of competently telling such a story. And there's no way that the coveted demographic of young white illiterate racists that made The Hunger Games a hit will watch such a movie, judging from the way they lost their shit when black people were actually cast in that movie. That factor alone will keep mainstream Hollywood from ever making this.

  • Gerald | March 11, 2013 2:44 PMReply

    Shawn said it best. Time to make our own and stop depending on the machine to get it done for us. We have to get out of that "reparations mindset." It's like that technical foul or that interference penalty...we can't allow those things to determine how we play the game...we just got to keep on playing it and not look back...but of course you have to look at some other factor...like budget which is constantly inflated by CGI and other efx that drive up costs. .. by the way, I wouldn't called White Supremist Double talk...I'll call it the Green Theory...which is basically, if the movie makes money at the box office, executives don't care what the color of the character. They made 3 Blade movies because the first showed box office promise...but although I agree on the other point, shooting it guerilla style, still going to need approval... so again that's where the Green Theory comes in. We need some of our own folks to raise the money and take on the risks, then I think mainstream studios will think more seriously about doing it.

  • Blaque | March 11, 2013 2:17 PMReply

    I agree with getting Milestone Media licenses in a movie, but DC owns the most popular of them (Static, Icon and Rocket, Hardware, I'm not sure about Blood Syndicates, tho). It's sad they don't take us seriously enough to actually create a movie based on OUTSTANDING black heroes or to set it outside of the 70's. Blaxploitation is not the only arena for black film, people!
    Luke Cage or Black Panther would do great numbers in theaters. And they don't have to have a white director for it if they are so worried about the Tarantino/Django affect. Why don't you actually hire a good black director - Like John Singleton? He's done (and written) great urban films and has directed popular action films as well. And let's be honest, Luke Cage is a grimier version of Shaft in the first place...

  • Jay | March 11, 2013 1:37 AMReply

    Marvel remember blade yea you guys made it happen. Now do it for Black Panther!!!

  • vawga | March 22, 2013 9:12 PM

    no,marvel studio did not make blade,research. that was another studio.

  • Donella | March 11, 2013 12:17 PM

    Blade is what jumped off the new rash of superhero movies. Maybe Shane Black doesn't want to do it (or cannot do it), but he is not the be all end all. Michael Jai White has the role of Falcon in a movie filming in Brazil, there is a military connection, but I don't think its THE Falcon. I'm still sort of confused on that.

  • Shawn Taylor | March 10, 2013 3:34 PMReply

    All people of color should just stop feeding the machine. We're made at Marvel for not doing BP mad at DC for not doing BL (Static Shock should be a no brainer w/Jaden Smith. License to print money), but we continue giving them our money, time, and energy. Eff 'em. What is interesting is that Marvel must have forgotten that it was Blade that paved the way for the X-Men. Let's make our own, and stop complaining.

  • Anonymous | April 7, 2013 10:35 PM

    I agree; I for one have stopped buying Marvel comics (and now DC) altogether and will look to boycott their movies too. I'm sure it won't mean much with just my action but at least I know I won't be supporting Marvel's racist views. God forbid they can't make a BP movie because they can't recreate Wakanda and yet they can create Asgard...sigh

  • urbanauteur | March 8, 2013 11:36 AMReply

    More WHITE SUPREMACIST DOUBLE SPEAK! with a lemon twist, why not go out and "sequester" hi-protein,divergent writers like Sam Greenlee and Zadie Smith to write a off the chain Black Panther script?.. shoot it guerrilla-scholar style wow! wouldn't that be something;-)?

  • Aaron | March 8, 2013 8:51 AMReply

    Screw that, any of you black filmmakers want to make a black superhero movie and not that 70s era mess they keep trying to do. Let's click up and make it happen and do it for US. I'm working a script and I will need some help to get this done so if you got skills as a director or whatever then let's get together and make it happen.

  • Gerald | March 11, 2013 2:50 PM

    Hey Aaron...I got a grip of projects on deck...but let's connect... Let's make it happen.

  • Winston | March 8, 2013 7:18 AMReply

    Forget those guys. What about a film featuring Black Lightning? That character had a tumultuous relationship with Superman in the comics, and that right there could be the lead-in for the character.

  • Torre | March 8, 2013 1:54 AMReply

    they're not interested in a Luke Cage film either. at best we'll get them as token black characters in supporting roles.....maybe.

  • Spirit Equality | March 7, 2013 11:06 PMReply

    Despite all the problems I had with "Django Unchained", it made a ton of money at the box office and if Quentin called Marvel tomorrow and said he wanted to do Black Panther in the 70s, I guarantee you that film would get green-lit.

    I'm not sure what Shane meant by "poisoned the well", unless he means Quentin poisoned the well for white directors other than him to direct Black Panther. Ha!

  • Gregg Calumet | March 7, 2013 11:34 PM

    SE...and sadly, you have a point. This is what we call "white privilege"...we can always dream though of a Black Panther film.

  • Miles Ellison | March 7, 2013 9:25 PMReply

    How did Django Unchained poison the well for a black superhero movie? Didn't it make a ton of money? The poison in the well is the unwillingness to make a movie with a black superhero as the main character. I suspect that they haven't figured out how to make casting a white flavor-of-the-month as the Black Panther commercially workable.

  • ALM | March 7, 2013 9:18 PMReply

    They would just recast Fury, and then they would shoot a movie. Daniel Craig would have probably made a good Fury, but I don't think he would want the job.

  • Wanett | March 7, 2013 6:26 PMReply

    They mention Sam's age like he's the only person that can play Nick Fury. Forever and ever. They change actors for other superhero roles like you change underwear and suddenly Sam's got Nick on lock??? That and the well poisoning comment are such BS.

  • No | March 7, 2013 6:54 PM

    People have forgotten or don't even know that Nick Fury started out as white in the comic books.

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