Black Panther has rapidly emerged as Marvel Studios’ most exciting project on the docket. I’ve already gone into detail why Chadwick Boseman‘s tremendous introduction in Captain America: Civil War has set the stage for the character to become the highlight of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and that was before we knew they were recruiting the tremendous Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan to fill out a cast that will reportedly be 90% African or African American.
Impeccable casting aside, one of the most promising elements Black Panther has going for it is director Ryan Coogler, who previously helmed the Sundance breakout Fruitvale Station and last year’s tremendous Rocky semi-sequel, Creed. While Creed proved that Coogler is capable of making a studio tentpole into a deeply personal journey, many have wondered if he would be able to do the same in the context of the MCU, where individual vision sometimes has to take a back seat to building the larger universe (especially after Ava DuVernay walked away from the project with the assertion that it “really wasn’t going to be an Ava DuVernay film”).
However, in a recent interview with FastCompany, Coogler asserted that Black Panther will in fact be his most personal film yet. Here’s what he said,
It’s a specific challenge. What Marvel’s doing, and what you see a lot of studios doing now that Marvel has done it so successfully, is making content that exists in a particular universe, where the characters tie in and crossover, and I think that’s a great creative challenge to me—to make this movie as personal as possible. It’s going to be my most personal movie to date, which is crazy to say, but it’s completely the case. I’m obsessed with this character and this story right now, and I think it’s going to be very unique and still fit into the overall narrative that they’re establishing.
That is quite an assertion, especially considering how vocal Coogler has been about the intimate nature of his connection to Creed, which was born out of him and his father’s love for the Rocky franchise. As he explained,
With making Creed, I wasn’t thinking I was gonna make a “black Rocky” movie, it was more that I wanted to make a movie about what me and my dad were going through, and my dad’s favorite character was Rocky, and it was kind of an allegory for us.
If Coogler sees Black Panther as an even more personal experience, that’s a great sign for the film, which carries a lot of cultural weight on its shoulders. It was his unique, intimate slant on Creed that gave that franchise a new breath of life, and if he can bring that idiosyncratic perspective Black Panther, he’ll add a much welcome new tone to Marvel’s ever-expanding universe.