Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: First Trailer For Gillian Flynn's 'Dark Places' Starring Charlize Theron, Chloë Moretz, And Nicholas Hoult Watch: First Trailer For Gillian Flynn's 'Dark Places' Starring Charlize Theron, Chloë Moretz, And Nicholas Hoult Review: Neill Blomkamp's 'Chappie,' Starring Die Antwoord, Dev Patel, Sigourney Weaver And Hugh Jackman Review: Neill Blomkamp's 'Chappie,' Starring Die Antwoord, Dev Patel, Sigourney Weaver And Hugh Jackman 'Chappie' Actor Admits There Was "Tension" On Set With Die Antwoord's Ninja; Check Out Two New Featurettes 'Chappie' Actor Admits There Was "Tension" On Set With Die Antwoord's Ninja; Check Out Two New Featurettes Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Actor Contenders Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Actor Contenders 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

Discuss: Is Marvel Afraid Of Making A 'Black Panther' Movie?

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist July 17, 2012 at 3:40PM

For a major studio who do nothing but make blockbuster tentpole movies, Marvel do, to their credit, take their fare share of risks. Casting Robert Downey Jr, an actor coming out of a decade or so of drug and alcohol addiction, and whose last film as a lead, "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" made under $5 million at the box office, as the lead in "Iron Man" was certainly a risk, but one that paid off handsomely.
25
Black Panther

To be clear, we're not accusing anyone at Marvel of racism, or anything like that. We're sure they're excited to add "Black Panther" to their stable, and there are bound to be advocates there who want to push forward with this film. But right now, they're scared of doing so in fear of putting a box-office ceiling on the film, and in particular, of doing so internationally. Global grosses have been key to the success of their recent films -- 60% of the take from "Thor" came from abroad, and 58% for "The Avengers," and the perception is that, Will Smith aside, international audience don't turn up to see African-American stars.

And to a degree, that could be backed up by statistics. Internationally, if you exclude Will Smith pictures, the only movies in the all-time international top-grossers with a black actor appearing in anything close to a leading role are... Roland Emmerich's "2012," in which Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton and Danny Glover took leads alongside John Cusack; and "The Matrix Reloaded," in which Laurence Fishburne plays second fiddle to Keanu Reeves. In the U.S all-time top 100, you also get "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Rush Hour 2," but each were more than a decade ago (in the case of the former, closer to 30 years ago). And you know what uther movies aren't in the top 100 all-time grossers? "Thor" and "Captain America."

But Marvel is in a position to change things. No one went to see Robert Downey Jr, or Chris Hemsworth, or Chris Evans headline films before they headlined Marvel movies either. And with Will Smith still being the biggest movie star in the world, we simply don't buy that international audiences are somehow racially biased against African-American actors ("Hancock" and "I Am Legend," sold entirely on Smith alone, sit pretty at number 60 and number 73 in the all-time international charts, with "Men In Black 3," which people aren't going to see because of Josh Brolin, at 65 and climbing).

Marvel has now reached the position at which they've successfully created a brand, and we suspect that if they make a Marvel-labelled "Black Panther" movie, people will turn up in large numbers because it's from the people behind "The Avengers." To say that it's tricky to start a film off in a fictional African country, when they've brought "Thor" from Asgard to Budget-Friendly Backlot, New Mexico, and when "Mad Max" sequel "Fury Road" is shooting in Namibia, Africa, because it's cheaper than doing so in Australia, it stinks of cowardice. If the script's not right for the film, say that. But you start to lose goodwill when you make excuses.

This article is related to: Marvel, Comic-Con, Features, Black Panther


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates