The hype for Black Panther has reached an all-time swell following its recent Hollywood premiere. The character went from a deep cut hero from Marvel Comics to a household name after his introduction in Captain America: Civil War. However, 25 years ago, actor Wesley Snipes — at the height of his career — began an initiative to create a live-action Black Panther film that never panned out and subsequently paved the road for the acclaimed Blade films.
The appeal of T’Challa and the origin of Wakanda’s advanced technology hit Snipes on a personal level, so when Marvel approached him and his former manager about the project, Snipes felt it the perfect medium to portray Africa in a light Hollywood never had before. However, it was hard for directors and screenwriters to grasp the difference between the comic book superhero and the 1960s civil rights revolutionaries.
Boyz n the Hood director John Singleton was in talks to direct, but instead of sticking to the source material Snipes wanted to remain faithful to, Singleton wanted to thread it back to the civil rights group. According to Snipes, Singleton said: “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.’” Snipes wanted to “see Africa in this light opposed to how Africa is typically portrayed.” He continues “I wanted to see the glory and the beautiful Africa. The jewel Africa.”
Due to director and screenwriter problems — alongside SFX issues that weren’t up to par to portray the tech advanced nation faithfully — the film never came to fruition. However, having learned from the pitfalls of this experience, Snipes was able to get Blade off the ground, to which he states “They both [Black Panther and Blade] had nobility. They both were fighters. So I thought, hey, we can’t do the King of Wakanda and the Vibranium and the hidden kingdom in Africa, let’s do a black vampire.”
Do you think Black Panther could have been more impactful if it were delivered 25 years ago? Are you hyped to see the film on February 16? Share your thoughts in the comments below and check out the film’s first trailer in the meantime.