We are in the midst of Black Panther mania. The first black superhero from the Marvel Cinematic Universe has set the world ablaze, and it’s currently shattering box office records while dazzling audiences and critics alike. Still, Black Panther isn’t the only black superhero capturing our imaginations. Marvel’s Luke Cage is set to have its sophomore season debut on Netflix very soon, and there have certainly been black superheroes in the past including Wesley Snipes’ iconic Blade.
With so much buzz around Black Panther, could a Luke Cage or even a Blade crossover be possible? Black Panther director Ryan Coogler revealed what he thinks.
Black Panther’s film history
Though the Black Panther comics have been around since the 1960’s, T’Challa’s story is the 18th film in the MCU. The Wakandan King’s road to the big screen has been hard and long. In fact, all the way back in 1992, Blade star Wesley Snipes was in talks with Marvel to play the King of Wakanda.
At the time, the actor said that the role would be “a dream come true to originate something that nobody’s ever seen before.”
Next: An iconic vampire hunter
Though there had been black superheroes before him, in 1998, Snipes’ Blade shattered the mold for black superheroes. As the stoic vampire hunter, Snipes used his love of martial arts to become the vampire on the hunt for other vampires.
Not only did Snipes do his own stunts, but the film also had a fantastic premise and was Marvel’s most diverse film. Making $70 million domestically off a $35 million budget, it would be the biggest success of Snipes’ career.
Without Blade, there would be no Black Panther or Luke Cage.
Next: Trials and tribulations
Snags and hiccups
Though Snipes’ role in Blade gave him leverage with Black Panther, by the mid-1990s, Marvel was having some major financial problems.
After Blade: Trinity bombed in 2004, Snipes was back talking about Black Panther. In a 2006 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he said that he and Marvel had “already done a lot of work on Black Panther and that they hoped to sign a director soon.”
Unfortunately, Snipes was indicted on tax evasion charges and jailed from June 2010 to April 2013, effectively booting him out of any Black Panther talks.
Next: T’Challa meets Luke Cage
The Harlem vigilante
Luckily, the idea of a black superhero didn’t vanish when Snipes was jailed. Netflix came roaring through with their Marvel television series, and one of those was Luke Cage which debuted in September 2016. At the premiere of Black Panther in Los Angeles, Luke Cage showrunner, Cheo Hodari Coker, talked about the importance of the black superhero on the big and small screens.
Well, the fact that of the matter is, it’s like, I’m not alone. And, it’s just incredible to see the fact that we’re all here [at the premiere] for Black Panther, which as a gig is a dream come true, but also as an African American writer and aspiring director and producer, it’s also a dream just seeing how Ryan Coogler came up and doing something like this.
Next: Legendary television
Black Panther comes to Harlem
When he was asked about Black Panther and Luke Cage meeting on screen, Coker was enthusiastic.
He said, “I would love that, I really would! I mean, because it would be, like, OK. T’Challa could definitely get on Pop’s free haircut list.”
Next: A monumental crossover
A crossover for the ages
Coker isn’t the only person who might be interested in seeing the black superheroes meet. In an interview with BET, Ryan Coogler was asked about Blade, T’Challa, and Luke Cage coming together.
I don’t control that stuff. I know that stuff’s all complicated. I wish Kevin [Feige] was here to see if you could talk to him, because he knows more about it. But I think it would be awesome. I loved those characters. [Blade] paved the way for what we’re doing now…And what Cheo [Hodari Coker] is doing with Netflix is just incredible, putting African-American culture on the screen like that and seeing people react to it that aren’t from that culture…the same way they react to a black basketball player or a black musician. It works for film, too. It’s universal.
Next: Behind ‘Black Panther’ 1,000 percent
Though Snipes might never have the opportunity to wear T’Challa’s vibranium suit himself, he has nothing but fantastic things to say about the film finally come to life. In 2015, he told The Hollywood Reporter that he supported the film, “1,000 percent.”
He also said, “[I’m] absolutely convinced that it will be a catalyst for change and open other doors and other opportunities.”
Follow Aramide on Twitter @midnightrami.
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