Ryan Coogler NOT YET Officially Directing Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’

Updated December 31, 2015 at 1:48 p.m. PST: Variety has back-tracked on its confirmation of Coogler as Black Panther‘s director and deleted their article.

Looking into The Verge‘s source of Empire, the article to which they are referring does not in fact confirm that Coogler has been hired.

Original story: Ryan Coogler has just come off the highly successful boxing film Creed, the seventh film in the Rocky series. It marks his second time working with actor Michael B. Jordan, whom he previously directed in 2013’s Fruitvale Station. Today, the Verge reports that Coogler has just officially signed on to direct Marvel Studio’s 2018 film, Black Panther.

Ryan Coogler was revealed to be the director of the upcoming film by Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige in an interview with Empire Magazine. Coogler has been rumoured to be in talks to helm the project for several weeks, and it turns out those rumors were true.

Ava DuVernay, a good friend of Coogler, was also approached by Marvel to possibly direct the film earlier this year. DuVernay visited the set of Captain America: Civil War, met actor Chadwick Boseman (who will be playing the role of Black Panther/T’Challa), and got an overall feel for the kind of big budget world she would be stepping into. She later revealed that she passed on the project, stating that her version for the film and the studio’s just weren’t going to be a match.

Ryan Coogler Officially Directing Marvel's '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,” DuVernay said. “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.”

Before Ryan Coogler, another director who may have been a strong possibility to direct Black Panther was Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray. The director met with Vin Diesel and ended up signing on to the direct the eighth Fast and Furious film instead.

But Marvel getting Coogler to direct their first superhero film led by a person of color is a pretty big deal, especially for many comic book fans in the black community. Ryan Coogler has the talent to tell a truly dramatic story with emotional weight and beautifully written characters, which is more than enough reason to bring him on board. In discussing what kind of film they would be making, Feigie commented by saying Black Panther would be a “big geopolitical action adventure.”

“Not only do you get an unbelievable lead character, but you also get all of Wakanda which is a whole new setting and culture to explore,” Feige says. “It’s a big geopolitical action adventure that focuses on the family and royal struggle of T’Challa in Wakanda, and what is means to be a king. T’Challa’s story is very important to us as it links to the next Avengers films, which is why we brought it forward.”

Ryan Coogler Officially Directing Marvel's 'Black Panther'
The character of Black Panther will be making his cinematic debut next year, in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, before he stars in his solo debut.

Many fans will be happy to hear that Ryan Coogler is directing Black Panther, as well as the fact that the film will have a primarily black cast. The film, originally scheduled to be released November, 2017, will be released in February of 2018.

[Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images for The New Yorker Festival]