Will Ta-Nehisi Coates' 'Black Panther' Be Adapted To A Film? Here's Why It Totally Needs To Be
How is it that there's a new, Ta-Nehisi Coates-penned, Black Panther comic for Marvel on the way, and it doesn't already have a film deal? Like, maybe I'm jumping the gun — after all, Marvel just revealed Tuesday via The New York Times that the 39-year old author and The Atlantic national correspondent — who is known for his poignant pieces on politics, institutionalized racism, and the black experience in America — is at the helm of a new Black Panther comic that will be part of the All-New, All-Different initiative from Marvel Entertainment. According to Newsarama, All-New, All-Different strives to focus on diversity and inclusion, its goal being to subvert the traditional superhero roles that are loved by so many.
It's exciting news — and totally fosters the perfect environment for Coates' Black Panther to be turned into a film.
Coates, whose phenomenal book Between The World And Me received a National Book Award nomination, is also a super-superhero nerd (as evidenced by this April 2015 interview with Vulture) so first, congratulations are in order. Working with artist Stelfreeze, he wrote "A Nation Under Our Feet," in which T'Challa — aka, Black Panther — must save his homeland of Wakanda from terrorists. And although some might think it interesting that Coates is taking on such a mainstream project, he doesn't see it that way: "I feel a strong need to express something. The writing usually lifts the weight. I expect to be doing the same thing for Marvel," he told the New York Times.
Soooo... about that movie adaptation? There's already of course the Black Panther film that Marvel has in the works; the character, played by Chadwick Boseman, will will make his first, long, LONG overdue appearance in Captain America: Civil War, and later in a solo film in 2018. But Coates' Black Panther needs a film too, and here's why it's absolutely necessary:
1. It's Ta-Nehisi Freakin' Coates
Opening up the Marvel Cinematic Universe to include works by Coates seems like such a no-brainer now that it's been done. Writing for The Atlantic, Coates has provided solace and insight into a brutal and painful time in America; he has the ability to write with elegance, emotion and incredible fire about police brutality, racism, fatherhood, politics and just about anything else. Bringing Coates to the MCU would hopefully introduce new audiences not only to his new Black Panther, but to his miraculous writing style.
2. It Would Be Good For The Diversity Of The MCU
Like, duh. Black Panther was created as a character to do just that — which is, to diversify the Marvel universe, which has historically and conspicuously struggled with representation and diversity. Coates loves the superhero world, especially because there were characters there that looked like him" powerful characters like Storm from X-Men, Monica Rambeau from Captain Marvel, and James Rhodes from Iron Man: "I’m sure it meant something to see people who looked like me in comic books. It was this beautiful place that I felt pop culture should look like," Coates told the Times .
With this new project, as The Hollywood Reporter notes, it seems like Marvel is trying to foster more diversity: "Black Panther will become Marvel's fourth solo title featuring a black lead, following Sam Wilson, Captain America, the Miles Morales Spider-Man and new Blade series. Additionally, the Devil Dinosaur & Moon Girl series features an African-American co-lead, and the company's new Totally Awesome Hulk is Korean-American."
3. Ava Duvernay Could Direct
She seems like she's already on board, based on this tweet. Duvernay expressed interest in directing the new Black Panther reboot, but told Essence back in July that the project wasn't gonna happen. Hm...
4. The More Representations, The Better
If there can be, like, 50 Batman movies, we can have two Black Panthers. I'm sure Boseman will do a great job in his adaptation, but there are so many other talented young black actors who could also play a badass T'Challa. And Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso said it himself: "He has the baddest costume in comics and is a dude who is smarter and better than everyone." Case closed! Sign the contracts!
5. He's The Hero We Don't Deserve, But The Hero We Need
The storyline for Coates' Black Panther is timely and important. As the New York Times noted, it's based on Stephen Hahn's Pulitzer-winning A Nation Under Our Feet, which is a book about the history of African-American oppression under colonialism. It sends a message even in 2015: in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, we need a Black Panther like this who is fighting for the real good of humanity. And Coates is the PERFECT author for just that kind of hero, and to bring progress to the MCU. As Alonso said: "It’s going to be a story that repositions the Black Panther in the minds of readers... It really moves him forward."
Coates' Black Panther comes out in 2016... and the movie should absolutely be announced any day now.
Images: Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Studios