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A Short History of Black Panther in Film, or The Lack Thereof

Black Panther #1

The Black Panther is going to be an animated series in 1Q2009, thanks to BET and Marvel. Sadly, they’re not using the Christopher Priest storyline, which was actually good, they’re using the Reginald Hudlin storyline–the first issue of which was a struggle to finish. Considering he’s apparently president of BET…Well, what can you do? That’s one way to get your comic made into a cartoon. BET is going to show a sneak peek at their panel at Comic-Con.

All I’ll say is that Laurence Fishburne better damn well voice T’Challa.

So here’s the question: where’s the live action movie? Wesley Snipes was going to produce it for a while, but as you recall, he’s been a little busy of late. And we were all so excited ten years ago because Blade had rocked, and we were waiting for Snipes to come and take care of another hero. Then that sort of languished and Artisan got the big package deal back in 2000 where they snagged a bunch of titles from Marvel to make into films, the rights of which have all since lapsed. Panther was part of the initial announcement when Marvel said “We strong, make big films.” It’s currently sitting with John Singleton in the chair, who apparently mentions Chiwetel Ejiofor or Djimon Hounsou for the role. He also likes Mark Steven Johnson’s script, he said, and Johnson did write and direct Ghost Rider, which did make a nice wheelbarrow full of money.

[ad#longpost]So what does this all mean? I wouldn’t be surprised to see Black Panther move as a feature film because, as we’ve discussed on here before, comic book movies are hot right now. Three of the Top 10 films of the year thus far are spandex-related, and that’s of five major releases–one of which was the largely ignored Speed Racer, which will still make its money back eventually and the other is Hellboy 2. And that’s not counting the freaking Dark Knight, which has the best chance of knocking Iron Man off his perch. Anyway, all of that to say that studios are loving the comics now. And that being said, let’s hope Marvel is smarter about their movies than they are about their comics: the last one out this year is Punisher: War Zone. They took twice to get Hulk right, let’s see if they can get Punisher right on the third try. (Yeah, I’m skeptical too.)

And did I mention Fishburne should voice T’Challa? Because he should.

Thanks to Comics2Film for filling the gaps in my memory.

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