By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act June 6, 2012 at 11:20AM
I say, no.
Since last night's rumor that Marvel Studios reportedly has a Black Panther movie on its slate, the obvious question that's been on most minds is, just who should play the superhero from the fictional African nation of Wakanda.
I spent some of the morning browsing through message boards and other sites, looking over lists of suggested actors, from writers and commenters - lists that range from the thoughtful, to the ridunkulous. Seriously, Will Smith as Black Panther? Really? And as much as I like John Boyega, I just can't picture him in the part; nor Anthony Mackie, Isaiah Mustafa, Djimon Hounsou (a fan favorite - his name turned up on several lists; he's too old at this point, to play the young Prince of Wakanda), not even Idris Elba, another fan favorite for the part.
Assuming Marvel will start from the beginning, and go with a younger T'Challa, I imagine an actor in his mid to late 20s, or early 30s; and with that, immediately, the list of available actors - specifically *known* actors who could play the part - decreases dramatically; partly because there just aren't many of them in the first place, who fit that criteria. Unless the studio chooses popularity over ability, and looks beyond Actors (capital "A" intentional), and considers musicians who've segued into acting. And even then, it's a short list.
There are a few other things to take into consideration - height, size (or at least the ability to create size), and being believable with the accent - not just some generic *African* tongue that will likely only elicit laughter from audiences.
Some fans are insisting that the actor be African - even if they aren't currently living within the continent; so naturally, Chiwetel Ejiofor's name has also been mentioned, as have Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and David Oyelowo - all 3 Nigerians originally, living in the UK.
There were a few interesting choices I didn't even think about, that I've read from others, including Aldis Hodge, Chadwick Boseman, Mehcad Brooks, and Nate Parker.
Others suggested that Marvel look outside the world of acting, and at WWE Ghanaian star Kofi Kingston for example, and even MMA fighter Rampage, who has done some acting himself.
Who else? Tyrese's name was mentioned, as was Edi Gathegi, Derek Luke, Wesley Snipes, and others; but really, mosts lists I found had some combination of the names mentioned here; and others, as I noted, just didn't make any sense to me at all.
It's like we're playing darts or something; line up every black actor working today, throw in some rappers, wrestlers, fighters, and let's see which one we can stick.
What do I think? I'm having a really challenging time coming up with anyone to be frank, even after thinking about it since last night. What I do know is that I'd prefer that the studio went with an Actor (the capital "A" is intentional), to give credibility to the project. They should take it very seriously, just as the WB has done with the Christopher Nolan era of Batman movies. So please no repeat of Steel... PLEASE!
Cast an Actor, not necessarily a star. I used to lean towards Chiwetel, more-so than any of the other popular choices, when talk began a year or 3 ago, about the potential for a Black Panther movie; he's an Actor, and, with some training, could certainly be whipped into proper physical shape for the role. I felt he could be convincing, and his casting would give the movie the right kind of credibility.
However, I'm not so sure anymore, especially as he's aged. And with that, as I've said several times in the past, I'd actually go with an unknown; less baggage. Go with an unknown, and then cast *name* actors around him to fill the supporting roles.
For example, if the chosen villain for the movie is Black Panther's archenemy Ulysses Klaw, they could even cast a *name* actor in that part; lots of white actors to choose from there certainly.
I like what Brian Helgeland did with his Jackie Robinson biopic (42); I think many would have expected him to cast an actor with some mainstream popularity/awareness, but he cast Chadwick Boseman, who, for all intents and purposes, is a relative *unknown* even though he's certainly not new to the game. And then he cast Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey.
But what do you folks think? Dig in with your general thoughts, and/or suggestions.