It’s no secret that Marvel is combing through their cast of characters to find the next great franchise. Dr. Strange, Black Panther, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage have all been name-dropped as The Next Marvel Movie Hero.
Black Panther can now join the club of “I’ve Got a Writer, Bitches!”, because according to Heat Vision, Marvel has hired Mark Bailey to pen the screenplay.
Bailey can also join a new and elite club of “I Didn’t Set Out To Pen Superheroes!” that’s inhabited by individuals like David Lindsay-Abaire and Christopher McQuarrie. Bailey comes from the documentary world, a man more likely to pen treatments for actual African countries, not movies set in fictional ones like Wakanda. But who is to say what geekery lurks in the hearts of men (and women)?
The choice of Black Panther would seem to be a timely one. Over the past year, we’ve seen two superheroes spark a vicious and ugly race debate thanks to Idris Elba being cast as Heimdall in Thor, and Donald Glover innocently campaigning for Spider-Man. The persistent theme of the counterarguments (once you picked out the racist slurs) was “Get your own damn superhero!”
Conversely, there were actually a number of individuals of various backgrounds who felt the answer wasn’t swapping skin color, but developing new and unique racial or biracial heroes for audiences. So, all right … here’s Black Panther. While part of me says “But this guy isn’t as popular or iconic as the big guys, why can’t everyone get a shot at being Batman?” there’s no good reason why he couldn’t become as badass and idolized as one of the top tier of superheroes. Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man had to start somewhere, and that somewhere could be a reinvention through film. The common thread of the superhero film seems to be that mainstream audiences don’t care what’s on the page, and how well he or she sells. They just want a cool movie. (So radical!) Black Panther could be a cool movie. His origin story is solid, and there’s even potential for a period piece if they set it in 1980s South Africa.
Remember, this once took off in the 1990s with Wesley Snipes. Why not now? What’s changed?
So, best wishes to Black Panther, and better luck this time around. I really am keen to see this develop and take off, as there’s real potential for relevant and exciting movie. And if a black superhero can achieve worldwide popularity, Marvel or DC will finally take a chance on a female one instead of constantly killing her in pre-production. (Yes, that’s a Wonder Woman reference. I had to.)