Screenwriter Joe Robert Cole has been talking extensively about Marvel’s upcoming project ‘Black Panther’, how he hopes to approach the black superhero’s first solo movie and the importance of getting it right.
“When I was a kid, I would change superheroes’ names,” he told Mother Jones. “Instead of James Bond, I was James Black. Instead of Batman, I was Blackman. My son will be five when 'Black Panther’ comes out. That puts it all into perspective for me.”
Roberts has a short resumé consisting largely of 2011 thriller 'Amber Lake’, which he also directed, but impressed Marvel having taken part in one of their screen-writing programs.
On the importance of 'Black Panther’, Cole said: ”'Black Panther’ is a historic opportunity to be a part of something important and special, particularly at a time when African Americans are affirming their identities while dealing with vilification and dehumanisation.“
Black Panther was the first black superhero to appear in mainstream American comics when he debuted in 1966. The film, set for release in 2018, will be the first superhero movie to focus on the black character since 'Catwoman’ and 'Blade 3’ were released in 2004.
"I write characters focusing on them as human beings, and then you wrap them within a culture,” Cole said when asked about how he plans do the character justice. “So I think I can connect with him as a person with brown skin who’s viewed differently by the world. In terms of his culture, we’re thinking about where we are locating Wakanda within the continent, and what the people and history of that region are like.”
“It’s a process of investigation to help inform the story at this point. But we are going to be engaged with consultants who are experts on the continent and on African history and politics.”
Black Panther, real name T'Challa and portrayed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) by Chadwick Boseman, is the ruler of Wakanda - a fiction African country name-checked in last year’s 'Avengers: Age of Ultron’.
Wakanda is a technologically-advanced nation, which poses the dilemma to Cole and the film-making team led by the director, 'Creed’s Ryan Coogler: how do you portray an advanced African nation without Westernising it?
“That’s one of the many questions that excite me,” says Cole. “I think you try to extrapolate from the early civilizations and cultures of the continent, kind of looking for unique ways they set themselves apart from Western civilizations, and then pursue those avenues technologically and see where that takes you.”
Boseman and the character’s debut in the MCU will take place in April’s 'Captain America: Civil War’ (seen in the trailer still above) prior to a likely appearance in 'Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1’ in early 2018, prior to the solo film - set for 6 July.
Picture Credits: Marvel.