Friday, July 03, 2015

No DuVernay for Wakanda

Not to say that the folks at Marvel have a woman problem, but, clearly, there is some sort of an issue.

Ava DuVernay, the Academy-snubbed director of Selma, spent the better part of the summer movie season so far being strongly talked about as the frontrunner to helm Marvel’s upcoming Black Panther starring Chadwick Boseman.

Alas, DuVernay has confirmed that she will not be calling the shots on the 2017 blockbuster.

“I think I’ll just say we had different ideas about what the story would be,” the director told Essence magazine in New Orleans today. “Marvel has a certain way of doing things and I think they’re fantastic and a lot of people love what they do. I loved that they reached out to me[, but i]n the end, it comes down to story and perspective. And we just didn’t see eye to eye.

Better for me to realize that now than cite creative differences later.

I love the character of Black Panther, the nation of Wakanda, and all that that could be visually. I wish them well and will be first in line to see [the movie].

The key here is not that DuVernay said that she and Marvel did not agree on how the movie should play out. That really isn’t all that rare. The important takeaway here is that DuVernay has publicly acknowledged a truth a lot of filmmakers (like Alan Taylor or Kenneth Branagh) have come to realize after working with the studio: that Marvel has a very singular vision and that they are sticklers for it. If you wanna work with them, you better adapt.

Clear enough, yeah?

More than a woman problem, Marvel seems to have a problem with wanting good directors to do they good work that Marvel wants, not the good work of which these helmers are capable. There is a recipe that needs to be followed, and it has been a wildly successful recipe, but is it sucking the imagination outta all these Marvel movies? (Not to mention, why are the powers that be reportedly and seemingly turning to a black director for Black Panther and a female director for its planned female-hero-centric Captain Marvel movie? That reads a little...som’in’. Like, why should a black director helm a black-superhero movie and why should a lady director – would that be a ladirector? – oversee a lady-superhero movie?)

Anyway, I am ambivalent about either possibility for an answer. Indubitably, Kevin Feige, the mastermind at the top of the studio, knows what’s up, so I will trust that we will continue to be entertained for a good, long while. I would prefer not be put in the kind of situation that, as an audience member, makes me wonder what if.

That is no fun.


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