Back in May, we reported that Marvel was courting Selma director Ava DuVernay to direct either Black Panther or Captain Marvel. It turned out that she was interesting in Black Panther, but ultimately decided against signing on to helm the superhero flick. In July, she said, “we had different ideas about what the story would be,” and that it was “better for me to realize that now than cite creative differences later.”
Speaking as the closing keynote at the 2015 BlogHer conference, DuVernay elaborated on why she chose to pass on directing Black Panther. “For me, it was a process of trying to figure out, are these people I want to go to bed with? Because it’s really a marriage, and for this it would be three years,” said DuVernay [via THR]. “It’d be three years of not doing other things that are important to me. So it was a question of, is this important enough for me to do?”
DuVernay recognized the unique opportunity she had if she took on Black Panther:
“At one point, the answer was yes because I thought there was value in putting that kind of imagery into the culture in a worldwide, huge way, in a certain way: excitement, action, fun, all those things, and yet still be focused on a black man as a hero — that would be pretty revolutionary,” she continued. “These Marvel films go everywhere from Shanghai to Uganda, and nothing that I probably will make will reach that many people, so I found value in that. That’s how the conversations continued, because that’s what I was interested in. But everyone’s interested in different things.”
We won’t know until Black Panther is released what Marvel was interested in and why that differed from DuVernay’s vision, but I’m glad she had the wherewithal to realize that being part of the Marvel system may not work for her as an artist:
“This is my art. This is what will live on after I’m gone. So it’s important to me that that be true to who I was in this moment. And if there’s too much compromise, it really wasn’t going to be an Ava DuVernay film.”
And that’s fair. While I’m bummed that she and Marvel couldn’t see eye-to-eye on Black Panther, Marvel is not an auteur-driven production studio. They still turn out enjoyable movies, and while Black Panther could have given DuVernay some blockbuster clout, it’s not like this is the only time that opportunity will come around for her. She’s incredibly talented, and as she told the audience at BlogHer, she knows it’s time to push past the age of asking for permission and diversify. She may not direct Black Panther, but she’s got her an OWN TV series Queen Sugar in the works, the CBS drama pilot For Justice, and is even moving into virtual reality.
As for Black Panther, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige says he expects the film to have a director by the end of the summer. The film opens July 6, 2018,