With the Disney/Fox deal finalized early Wednesday, Marvel Studios welcomed many characters back under their umbrella, including the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. For fans, that may be the best news ever as it means that the future could well hold Marvel Cinematic Universe films for those beloved characters. But amid all this excitement about what the MCU may hold in the future, it's easy to forget that some of the biggest films in the MCU almost didn't happen quite the way we know them now -- including Black Panther.
In a new feature about X-Men movie producer Avi Arad in Deadline, Arad talks a lot about the long road to the MCU as we now know it as well as the evolution of superhero movies in general and one of the things that comes up in the piece? A handful of projects that eventually became MCU hits were non-starters elsewhere, including Black Panther, which would have been a film for Fox.
"The Columbia Pictures Spider-Man films would become nothing less than Sony's all-time biggest franchise," the article explains. "But there were plenty of non-starters, too: Black Panther was going to be a Fox film, Iron Man was set up at Sony, a Doctor Strange project came and went, as did a dozen other Marvel projects."
It's an interesting footnote in the story of how Black Panther not only made it to screen but ended up being film of 2018 with a $1.3 billion plus total box office gross last year. Talk of a Black Panther film first began all the way back in 1992, with Blade star Wesley Snipes expressing interest in the film. Development on that project languished for years. Then, in September 2005, Arad, who was then Chairman and CEO of Marvel Studios, announced Black Panther of one of ten films being developed. Arad left Marvel Studios in 2006, but in February 2007, studio president Kevin Feige reiterated that Black Panther was, in fact, in development.
Seven years later in October 2014, Feige announced that Black Panther -- with Chadwick Boseman starring as the titular hero -- would be released on November 3, 2017. A few release date changes later, Black Panther finally debuted on February 16, 2018 and the rest, as they say, is history. The film was not only a box office smash, but it raked in both audience and critical claim ultimately becoming the first ever superhero film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The film ultimately lost that award to Green Book, something Arad said was heartbreaking to him.
"I was heartbroken that Black Panther didn't get the Academy," he said. "It could have, but you know, [the voters] they always looked at superheroes like it was a 'Yabba dabba doo' kind of a thing versus something that mattered or something that was going to last."
Black Panther is currently available on home media and is streaming on Netflix. Upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe films include Avengers: Endgame on April 26th, and Spider-Man: Far From Home on July 5th. Captain Marvel is currently playing in theaters everywhere.