Interesting quote about why Marvel won’t do a Black Panther film from Iron Man 3 director, Shane Black:
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.
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.
The interviewer, Steve Weintraub, doesn’t follow up on what seems like an off-handed remark about Tarantino here so it’s hard to know exactly what Black means when he says “Tarantino kind of poisoned the well with Django” or if Black’s point of view here is actually Marvel’s.
But I’m guessing that he’s referencing the controversy around the film because in all the ways that matter most – it would seem – to a movie studio, Django Unchained was a success. It’s Tarantino’s highest grossing film, it netted him an Oscar for best original screenplay and one for Christoph Waltz, was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar (along with four other nominations), and is generally considered a well-made film by most people, independent of the content*.
It would be a shame then if Tarantino’s film has scared any movie studio so shitless that it wouldn’t make a film about a black superhero – which is, in the broadest sense, what connects these two properties. The particulars of Django and Black Panther – as characters and stories – are sufficiently distinct that I can’t believe that Marvel would make this kind of messy conflation, even if it is a convenient way to get out of making a film that it might be scared to make for a whole host of other reasons. This feels to me like Black’s own view.
That said, what are those other reasons?
I think that all of the dithering around about whether or not to do a Black Panther movie actually suggests something about the moviegoing public – or at least Marvel’s perception of what this public would pay to see. Marvel knows what Black Panther is about. It has published him in some form or another for nearly 50 years. Marvel knows that the property is not Django.
So if it is true that the studio doesn’t want to do make a Black Panther movie, maybe it truly believes that the vast majority of Americans don’t want to go see a film about a Black African whose primary focus is resisting Western imperialism.
The shame then is on us.
*I didn’t see it and here is why.
(h/t Shadow and Act)