Ava DuVernay to not direct Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’

The hunt for a director for the Marvel movie Black Panther is still on. The movie is scheduled for a July 2018 release, so the studio still has time on its hands to finalise on who the director will be. One name who would not be seen in this role is Ava DuVernay. No better source than DuVernay herself to confirm it, as she revealed these details in an interview with Essence.

I guess I’ll declare my independence from this rumor on 4th of July weekend and Essence weekend! I’m not signing on to direct Black Panther.

The possibility of Ava DuVernay directing a Marvel movie had been an exciting one, ever since Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige himself confirmed that talks had been held between the two parties. DuVernay broke into the limelight last year with the critically acclaimed biopic Selma based on one episode of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life story. The fact that she was overlooked for an Oscar nomination, as was the star of the movie David Oyelowo, got many people riled up (rightly so!) and had us sympathize with her. So to land up in the directing chair of a big-budget film like Black Panther would have been seen as justice in the eyes of some. 

Ava DuVernay on Black Panther_Ava DuVernay

Then there is a bigger reason why DuVernay directing a Marvel film would have been a huge deal. It would have marked the first woman director to work on the studio’s project in this ever-growing and highly successful franchise. Till now, the only time Marvel ever came close to handing over the job to a woman was for 2011’s Thor, where Patty Jenkins had been selected before she decided to skip the project due to creative differences. Patty Jenkins incidentally is now directing Wonder Woman for Warner Bros. It is no secret that to reach stellar heights in the movie industry as a female director ain’t that easy, and so it’s important for the likes of Ava DuVernay to have good projects on her doorstep, as it sets a precedent and opens up doors for other female directors. Being a person of colour, Ava DuVernay’s journey in the movie industry becomes again an important matter, and I do not need to explain this much in detail. So on those two counts, the possibility of Ava DuVernay becoming the next director in the Marvel cinematic world was an exciting one. But then, she is a film-maker after all, and she needs to feel good about the project she takes up, irrespective of which studio is approaching her.

I think I’ll just say we had different ideas about what the story would be. Marvel has a certain way of doing things and I think they’re fantastic and a lot of people love what they do. I loved that they reached out to me.

Marvel has had a history of being tough on its directors. And the term “creative differences” has come out too often. Even Joss Whedon has been candid about the strenuous task of working with Marvel Studio. And the most recent movie, Ant-Man, saw Edgar Wright walk away from the project before Peyton Reed had to be brought in as a replacement. So Marvel Studio has its own way of working, the studio has its own vision which it wants fulfilled, and considering the quality of the movies released, it is tough to say that the studio’s style of working does not give results. The only good thing here is that the fact that Marvel and Ava DuVernay were not seeing eye-to-eye was accepted early on, and so the matter could be settled quickly, not impacting either party too adversely. That is what DuVernay further went on to say.

In the end, it comes down to story and perspective. And we just didn’t see eye to eye. Better for me to realize that now than cite creative differences later.

So kudos to DuVernay for sticking to her way of doing things. She is right now working on creating a TV series titled Queen Sugar along with Oprah Winfrey. She has directed the pilot episode for CBS’ For Justice, the story of a female FBI agent caught between family and work, but it seems the show has not been picked up. There are no feature films lined up as of now, but it should only be a matter of time. She does give her best wishes to Marvel for the Black Panther project.

Ava DuVernay on Black Panther_Black Panther

I love the character of Black Panther, the nation of Wakanda and all that that could be visually. I wish them well and will be first in line to see it.

Marvel must already be in the hunt for a director for Black Panther which has Chadwick Boseman on board for the titular role. The movie is going to reveal the origins of the Marvel superhero, T’Challa, prince of Wakanda, who must rise to take the mantle of the Black Panther after his father, the king, is treacherously killed. Black Panther’s association with the Avengers world lies in the fact that the nation of Wakanda happens to have the bulk of the world’s supply of vibranium, the metal Captain America’s shield is made from. We will in fact first see Black Panther as part of Captain America: Civil War which will release next year. The Marvel universe continues to remain as exciting as ever!


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