It’s the billion-dollar success story good enough to bring Denzel Washington to tears, but Ryan Coogler was initially apprehensive about Black Panther and, in particular, signing on to direct a movie where the title role was already filled.
The latter is now available to buy digitally (and on Blu-ray, too!), and if you decide to pick it up, you’ll be treated to a special directors roundtable featuring some of the biggest filmmakers ever to grace the MCU. Among those is Ryan Coogler, who took a moment to explain why he was “terrified” to take on a project like Black Panther for Marvel Studios.
A tip of the hat to Cinema Blend for this one, and we should note that Coogler is speaking to the Russo Brothers on this occasion:
When I first started talking with Marvel, you guys were in post [in Captain America Civil War]. Making a film where your lead actor has been cast by somebody is scary. It terrified me. And I knew Chadwick was crazy talented and I didn’t know him at the time yet. I remember just seeing him and seeing the decisions that you guys had made. It went past me like a sigh of relief.
Coogler went on to elaborate about Black Panther‘s heady themes and why he fretted over the film’s approach to colonialism and African culture.
The biggest fear for us was to make something that was frivolous. That was my biggest fear. The theme of identity as it relates to culture. Should be something that was at the heart of it. There was also this idea of nationalism. Am I my brother’s keeper? Is it my duty to just take care of my own or do I have a responsibility to people over there?….that’s what we were aiming at. We didn’t know if we were going to connect with it but every day we were aiming at it.
It’s part of the creator’s curse, of course, as it’s only natural for a filmmaker – or a writer, or a poet, or a musician – to deliberate every little detail of their work. And Black Panther‘s Ryan Coogler is no different.