Actor Wesley Snipes has revealed John Singleton’s idea for a Black Panther film in the 1990s, which sounds as if the acclaimed filmmaker may not have understood the Marvel Comics hero.
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“I laid on [Singleton] my vision of the film being closer to what you see now: the whole world of Africa being a hidden, highly technically advanced society, cloaked by a force field, Vibranium,” Snipes recalled to The Hollywood Reporter. “John was like, ‘Nah! Hah! Hah! See, he’s got the spirit of the Black Panther, but he is trying to get his son to join the [civil rights activist] organization. And he and his son have a problem, and they have some strife because he is trying to be politically correct and his son wants to be a knucklehead.’”
“I am loosely paraphrasing our conversation,” the actor continued. “But 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 am so glad we didn’t go down that road,” Snipes continued, “because that would have been the wrong thing to do with such a rich project.”
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The actor also explained that he often had to clarify for people that he was making a movie about the superhero Black Panther, not the 1960s civil rights organization of the same name. The project eventually stalled because, according to Snipes, the “technology wasn’t there to do what they had already created in the comic book” and the producers couldn’t find “the right combination of script and director.”
Although his Black Panther movie never came to fruition, Snipes famously went on to star in 1998’s Blade, which earned more than $131 million worldwide, and spawned two sequels, Blade II and Blade: Trinity.
Singleton is best known for his work on 1998’s Boyz n the Hood, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for best director. He also directed 1993’s Poetic Justice, 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious and 2005’s Four Brothers.
Directed by Ryan Coogler from a script he wrote with Joe Robert Cole, Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross, Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue, and Forest Whitaker as Zuri. The Marvel Studios film arrives in theaters on Feb. 16.