The Black Panther sequel is still a tightly wrapped secret. The project came to a devastating halt last year when King T’Challa actor, Chadwick Boseman, tragically lost his battle with colon cancer. While Kevin Feige and director, Ryan Coogler, have said the role of T’Challa won’t be recast, there is still the question of how Marvel Studios will rework the film. Many a Marvel fan is expecting to see Boseman’s on-screen sister, Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, take up the Black Panther mantle.
While we await Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, though, MCU fans can reunite with the Wakandan hero in Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther comic book series. But, despite his five-year-long tenure as a Marvel Comics writer, Coates has issued a damning report of Marvel Entertainment’s most prominent division, the popular Marvel Studios.
First appearing in Marvel Comics in 1966, Black Panther was created by Marvel legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The character made his on-screen debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Captain America: Civil War (2016) where he tracked down Steve Rogers’s (Chris Evans) friend and ally, Bucky Barnes AKA the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan).
Actor Chadwick Boseman reprised his Avenger in a solo superhero film, Black Panther (2018) which took the world by storm not only for its role in the greater Marvel universe but also for what it did for Black communities in terms of Black superhero representation. The film starred Michael B. Jordan (Creed) as the villain, Erik Killmonger, Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah), Angela Basset (Soul), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave), and Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead), as Dora Milaje leader, Okoye.
Coates’s Black Panther comic book series explores the wills of the Wakandan people under the rule of their leader, the Black Panther. The fictional African nation is well-known for its advanced technology, and Coates’s story reveals a dramatic upheaval at the very center of Wakanda.
In light of the Black Panther movie’s success, it would suggest that those legions of fans would turn to stories like Coates’s modern Black Panther adventures to tide them over, but a new interview suggests an element of distaste from the writer towards the Marvel movie studio.
In a recent interview with Polygon, the Black Panther writer discussed his place in the Marvel enterprise and his hopes for better acknowledgment. When asked about whether Coogler’s movie and thus Boseman’s T’Challa, affected his own writing process, Coates had this to say:
“No. I wish that there was better integration, in terms of … the people who were very excited about the movie. I wish they had tried to turn, say, 2% of them into comic book readers.”
Coates shared his criticisms of Marvel Studios and their lack of compensation for comic book creators.
“…here are people who make their living off of comic books. And I wish that Marvel found better ways to compensate the creators who helped make Black Panther Black Panther. I wish that they found better ways to compensate the folks who made Captain America Captain America.”
He went on to add:
“I wish they found ways to compensate the author of the greatest Winter Soldier stories that you’re ever going to read. I don’t love that there’s a Falcon and Winter Soldier show on TV and I’m hearing from Ed [Brubaker] that he can’t even get in contact with … I just don’t love that. I don’t love that. Look, I had a great time. I had a tremendous, tremendous time writing for Marvel. I am indebted to Marvel.”
Coates is clearly talking about the Disney+ show, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which was created for television by Malcolm Spellman and directed by Kari Skogland. It saw the return of Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon and Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier. The latest entry into the MCU became a fan-favorite and has topped streaming charts worldwide. Coates commented on the success of the MCU:
“…to see folks making billions over top of billions, and for my man [Ed Brubaker] to say he can’t get a phone call returned. I don’t know what the relationship will be like in the future, but as a creator, you think about that. You think about how people treat other people. You think about how corporations treat other people. And I just don’t love it.”
While Coates’s time with Marvel has come to an end, his statements on their treatment of comic book creators are likely to cause future friction between him and the entertainment powerhouse. It will be interesting to see if his report will cause a change in the areas of compensation. We have seen recently that The Walt Disney Company is facing backlash from a variety of authors who claim #DisneyMustPay, after reports that they are withholding royalty payments for certain projects.
In terms of the next on-screen visit to Wakanda, Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever will release July 8, 2022, — continuing on Chadwick Boseman’s legacy — with director Ryan Coogler’s Wakanda Disney+ series launching sometime in the near future, although a release date is yet to be confirmed. Recent reports also point to Okoye star, Danai Gurira, getting her own origin Disney+ show.
Wakanda Forever, indeed.
Do you think Marvel Studios owes more credit to its comic book writers?