Black Panther was widely embraced as an important moment for diversity in superhero cinema, and seeing how phenomenally well the movie did in terms of box office figures, critical reception, and from the look of things, awards season attention, it’s likely in Marvel Studios’ best interest to continue making progress when it comes to onscreen representation.
Producer Kevin Feige effectively said as such when he spoke on Playback with Kris Tapley, explaining that the success of T’Challa’s standalone debut has ensured that the film will not be a one-off.
“Yes, absolutely,” Feige said. “Sometimes people have asked very directly, ‘Is [Black] Panther a one-off?’ in terms of inclusion representation and the answer is no, it’s the beginning. That it worked out as well as it worked out just encourages to head in the direction that we were going to head anyway. You look at that film and the experience of the film…it was incredible. That movie, obviously, would not have been what it was if everyone sitting around the table looked like me or you and that’s actually true for all the movies.”
Feige’s statements echo those made by Marvel’s executive vice president of production Victoria Alonso last month, when she argued that “just because we do one movie that’s called Black Panther and all those actors are represented, doesn’t mean that we need to stop there. I think that we should have Black Panther 2 and 3.”
Indeed, Black Panther 2 is confirmed to be on the way, though improving representation in the studio’s output obviously means a lot more than further trips to Wakanda. For one thing, Marvel has multiple female-led projects on the way, and according to Feige, the studio is also seeing a strong ratio of men to women behind the scenes.
“As Marvel Studios has grown and as our creative team has grown, it’s the same thing,” Feige continued. “It’s almost half men, half women now. We try to grow and promote in-house, almost anybody that works around me has worked here for many, many years and people are going on the produce some of our next films came in below people producing the films now. When you have diverse voices, you get better stories and you get more exciting stories and you get more surprising stories and that is something very, very clear to us.”
Next on the MCU release schedule is Captain Marvel, which will serve as the first female solo superhero movie of the saga. Beyond that, Cate Shortland is reportedly helming a Black Widow film, before director Chloe Zhao takes on The Eternals. After that, the schedule seems a little unclear, with the Black Panther sequel looking to drop some time in 2021 at earliest, but whatever the future holds, you can expect Marvel’s Phase 4 to bring some big changes to the superhero saga.