Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige Explains Why Ryan Coogler Was Picked to Direct ‘Black Panther’

Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige has explained why acclaimed Fruitvale Station and Creed filmmaker Ryan Coogler was selected to helm its James Bond-inspired Black Panther.

“With what Ryan was doing, what he had to say, and vouching for crew members that we had not worked with before but that he believed in — he came in and blew us away with initial sort of presentations to get the job,” Feige told Variety’s Playback Podcast.

“For them to have stepped up and knocked it out of the park the way they did is incredible. It comes down to a filmmaker who has such a deft hand at being able to balance something that is going to have entertainment value with being true to his soul and being true to the questions he had growing up.”

Spinning out of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, where king-to-be T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) was introduced as a ferocious superhuman looking to avenge his murdered father (John Kani), Black Panther introduced audiences to the tucked away African utopia of Wakanda, the most technologically-advanced nation on Earth.

The film proved an immediate blockbuster hit, going on to win $1.3 billion at the worldwide box office to become the ninth highest-grossing film of all time. $700 million of its haul was earned domestically, making it just the third film in history to bypass that milestone after Disney’s own Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($936m) and James Cameron’s Avatar ($760m).

Black Panther has subsequently faced lavish awards attention, including a Golden Globes nomination for Best Picture - Drama, making it the first superhero film to earn a nod for the Globes’ most coveted award. In addition to its status as a major awards contender, Feige said previously the “cultural impact” of Black Panther makes it “the most important victory we’ve ever had.”

With his riches and cache of tools and spy-like gadgets, created by super-genius younger sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), T’Challa emerged as even more James Bond-like superhero than Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr).

“The notion of a James Bond-type film with a suave hero, that was one of the early inspirations that [producer] Nate Moore discussed with Ryan,” Feige told Variety.

“I don’t think most people watch that film and think James Bond, but you can see where part of that inspiration came from. Doing it with an African hero in a country that had never been colonized is only even more exciting and makes it more unique and special.”

Coogler agreed the concept of viewing the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby-created superhero through such a lens was “incredibly interesting and exciting.”

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“It was a really outside-of-the-box way to look at T’Challa,” Coogler said. “There are some Bond films that I really, really like, and it gave me the opportunity to go watch some other ones.”

Marvel Studios has yet to announce the release date for Black Panther 2. Coogler is confirmed to return as writer-director.