Holy fucking shit.
Marvel has, since it started this new universe by tapping Jon Favreau to direct Iron Man, developed a habit of selecting directors who are either relatively unknown, or very unlikely candidates based on their resumes, to direct their films. It’s a strange formula that often seems almost crazy on paper. And yet, given that the guys who directed You, Me and Dupree gave us what is arguably the best film in the franchise (Captain America: The Winter Solider, although you can make a similar case for James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy), it appears to be a formula resulting in far more hits than misses.
There’s a lot riding on 2018’s The Black Panther. It’s a less well-known character (to non-comic readers, anyway), and also carries the burden of being a very important non-white character, which brings with it its own complexities. Black Panther, or T’Challa (to be played by Chadwick Boseman), isn’t just a superhero, he’s a king and a leader, a black hero who breaks stereotypes even as he embraces his people’s traditions. How to handle such a character, someone of complexity and depth, a black man in a universe filled to bursting with white characters, is a fairly intriguing question.
I guess hiring the director of a Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic is a decent way to start that process. Ava Duvernay, who directed the spectacular Selma, has been officially (based on an exclusive report from MCU Exchange) hired by Marvel to direct The Black Panther, perhaps the most intriguing directorial choice in a long line of unusual picks. DuVernay has a very short resume of feature films, but she unquestionably proved with Selma that she can direct a beautiful, intelligent, emotionally affecting picture. Can she direct an action film? Given the success of the likes of the Russos, Kenneth Branagh (Thor), etc., there’s absolutely no reason to doubt it. But more importantly, it shows Marvel has a dedication to the fidelity and nuance of this specific character, and that means all the world to fans of the property.
It’s a long time until 2018, and the wait just got a lot more interesting.