It goes without saying that Black Panther is one of the most highly anticipated films of the year. After breaking pre-sale ticket records and a projected box office debut upwards of $120 million, the expectations surrounding the success of this film starring Chadwick Boseman has everyone excited beyond words.
But most people don’t know that there was a possibility that we could have gotten a Black Panther film way back in the 90s starring the Wesley Snipes. But the project never saw the light of day. The issues behind why the film never happened has been a mystery until now. While speaking with THR, Snipes explained what made him want to do the project in the first place. Check out his explanation below:
“I think Black Panther spoke to me because he was noble and was the antithesis of the stereotypes presented and portrayed about Africans, African history and the great kingdoms of Africa. It had cultural significance. It was something that the Black community and the White community hadn’t seen before.”
At the time, Marvel had terrible success with their live action comicbook adaptions; Howard The Duck, The Punisher starring Dolph Lundgren and a Fantastic Four film that was so bad it was never released. But Wesley was a bankable star who had a list of successful films at the box office. Studios were interested in the ide but still couldn’t understand the concept. Some studios, unfamiliar with the comicbook version of Black Panther, thought he was pitching an idea about the civil rights activist group the Black Panthers. Eventually Columbia became the film’s studio and next on the agenda was finding a script and a director.
“We went through three different scripts and a couple different director options. They were trying to find young, up-and-coming, black directors”
Eventually, Snipes started having conversations with famed director John Singleton. At the time, Singleton was only 23 years old and made his stamp on the industry with his film Boyz N The Hood. But according to Snipes, Singleton wanted to take the character into a totally different direction.
“Ultimately, John wanted to take the character and put him in the civil rights movement. And I’m like ‘Dude! Where’s the toys?! They are highly technically advanced, and it will be fantastic to see Africa in this light opposed to how Africa is typically portrayed.’ I wanted to see the glory and the beautiful Africa. The jewel Africa. I love John but I’m so glad we didn’t go down that road because that would have been the wrong thing to do with such a rich project.”
While Snipes was meeting with his short list of director’s, Marvel’s former Editor In Chief Tom DeFalco was meeting with Columbia execs and screenwriter Terry Hayes to formulate a story who DeFalco says ‘had a terrific handle on the character, on the action, the stakes and everything else.’ But after some time, the project stalled out.
“Ultimately, we couldn’t find the right combination of script and director and, also at the time, we were so far ahead of the game in the thinking, the technology wasn’t there to do what they had already created in the comic book.”
Eventually, Snipes turned his sights on another Marvel character. Blade kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe long before Kevin Feige sat in the captain’s chair. Blade made over $130 million at the worldwide box office and even garnered two sequels. So, in the end, it all worked out for Snipes. He was still able to portray a black hero on the big screen and according to him, he is willing to return as the popular Vampire Hunter if the MCU is down for the cause.
What do you think of Snipes tell-all story? Would you have liked to see a Black Panther film starring Snipes? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Black Panther claws into theaters February 16th.