Black Panther and Captain Marvel

ScreenRant officially reported on the opposition at Marvel Studios for two very important movies to date. I am speaking of the highly successful ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Captain Marvel’. Both films grossed over $1 billion internationally and were critically well-received. ‘Black Panther,’ in particular, was awarded three Oscars in 2019 – the first for Marvel Studios. Including Best Costume Design and Best Production Design.

In his new memoir, ‘The Ride of a Lifetime’, Disney CEO Bob Iger spoke about the “roadblocks” to the production of ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Captain Marvel’ and addressed the opposition from Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter.

“I’ve been in the business long enough to have heard every old argument in the book, and I’ve learned that old arguments are just that: old, and out of step with where the world is and where it should be. We had a chance to make a great movie and to showcase an underrepresented segment of America, and those goals were not mutually exclusive. I called Ike and told him to tell his team to stop putting up roadblocks and ordered that we put both Black Panther and Captain Marvel into production.”

According to the story, the executives’ objections at the time were that people of color historically have not performed well at the global box office. This raised raise concerns for them of extending a franchise to a black superhero.  Iger further detailed that this reluctance of greenlighting ‘Black Panther’ was another straw towards the split between Marvel Studios and Marvel Entertainment. Iger’s accounts of the story are ground-breaking and reveals the sort of forward-thinking that is sorely needed in the Hollywood industry.

Fortunately for the fans and the industry, Iger followed through on his passion for the character after reading the comic written by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

ComicBook reports excerpts from Iger’s memoir about the CEO’s love for Black Panther and the comic book medium:

As Iger explained in the memoir, “Around the same time, Dan Buckley, who runs Marvel’s television and comic book businesses, told me that the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, who I felt was one of the most important voices in contemporary American literature, was writing a Black Panther comic for us.”

Elaborating further, Iger stated, “I asked Dan to send it to me and was amazed by the elegant storytelling and the way Ta-Nehisi had added such depth to the character. I devoured the comic, and before I even finished it had placed Black Panther on the list of must-do Marvel projects in my mind.”

Quite frankly, part of the opposition to producing ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Captain Marvel’ reveals the cultural “roadblocks” that persist in entertainment regarding casting people of color and female heroines as leads in movies. Despite decades of success, casting people of color and female heroines to helm franchises is still perceived as a risky choice. Bummer!

A year ago, it proved a risky choice. Today, ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Captain Marvel’ prove that people of color and female leads can anchor movie franchises and perform successfully at the global box office.