Though I don’t personally consider it to be anywhere near the masterpiece that many are proclaiming it as, there’s no doubt that Marvel’s Black Panther is already an enormous success, one of the top five openers in movie history. Would it have been so successful if it had been made in 1992 though? The question merits thinking about because Wesley Snipes was recently interviewed by Variety, and said that he tried to get it made back then.
“We thought it would be very cool and atypical for a Marvel comic-book character. Something that would be appeal to white people, black people, Asian people, and have some martial arts in it and expose the world of Africa in a way that most people were unfamiliar with and very contrary to the stereotypes that are projected about the continent.”
“I contributed to a script. There were maybe three different scripts that were penned for the project. It was quite challenging finding the right director. We wanted to keep it true to the comic book. In the comic book, Wakanda is a mecca of sorts of diverse culture and beliefs and systems and skills and warriors and, of course, the martial arts. African martial arts was featured in our version, which most people in our world didn’t know exist. It would have been a culturally diverse, shithole! [He laughs, referring to Donald Trump.] A very rich culturally diverse shithole.”
“We never got to the costume part. We figured it was going to be leotard tights. We never even got to a budget. At the time, there were no templates for it. Marvel was going through some restructuring. I was quite busy at the time. I don’t recall it being that traumatic. We went on to do other interesting things. Within two years, the Blade opportunity came around, which was just as cool. Hey, it’s good to be ahead of the game and being alive long enough to see its fruition”.
He’s enthusiastic about seeing Ryan Coogler’s version, but added:
“It can be kind of funny to go see this one and think. ‘Why aren’t you up there?’”
Would this have worked back in 1992? I’m kind of glad that it didn’t get off the ground then, because then we may not have had the perfectly cast Snipes as the awesome Blade!