Marvel wanted Ava DuVernay to direct Black Panther, but she turned it down because she’d have to compromise her artistic integrity.
Earlier this month, Selma director Ava DuVernay revealed that she had turned down the opportunity to direct Black Panther, Marvel’s first superhero movie starring a person of color.
At the time, DuVernay said she turned Marvel down because the studio’s plans for the movie did not correspond with her own vision. “I think I’ll just say we had different ideas about what the story would be,” she explained tactfully.
Speaking at the 2015 BlogHer conference, the director has expanded upon her reasoning for rejecting this massive opportunity.
“At one point, the answer was yes,” DuVernay admits, “because I thought there was value in putting that kind of imagery into the culture in a worldwide, huge way.”
She sees Black Panther as a unique opportunity, because it has all the usual Marvel staples — “excitement, action, fun, all those things” — and at the same time, the movie still tells the story of a black man as a hero. “That would be pretty revolutionary,” DuVernay says.
The fact that Marvel has such a wide reach appealed to DuVernay, but ultimately, “everyone’s interested in different things. This is my art. This is what will live on after I’m gone. So it’s important to me that that be true to who I was in this moment. And if there’s too much compromise, it really wasn’t going to be an Ava DuVernay film,” she concludes.
While others have argued convincingly about the need for more thematically and artistically diverse Marvel movies, we can’t deny that the studio is very transparent about its need for consistency.
Marvel isn’t just spewing out a series of unconnected superhero films, after all: each movie is carefully designed to be a part of a greater whole, and while they tell individual stories, they are all building towards the same endgame.
So while we’d have liked to see Ava DuVernay’s take on Black Panther, she was smart to realize that Marvel would be a controlling influence on the entire process.
Ultimately, DuVernay made the decision based on whether or not she was willing to compromise her own style of filmmaking, and probably saved both parties a lot of grief by recognizing her own need for autonomy.
As for the fate of Black Panther, Marvel head Kevin Feige expects that a director will have been chosen by the end of the summer.