Although Wesley Snipes has portrayed superhero Blade in three films, the 55-year-old actor also had his heart set on bringing Black Panther to the big screen back in the 1990s. That film has since been re-imagined by famed director Ryan Coogler and is one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Snipes delved into why his vision for the classic comic never came to fruition and how he feels about the new Marvel film, which is soon to hit theaters.
“I think Black Panther spoke to me because he was noble, and he was the antithesis of the stereotypes presented and portrayed about Africans, African history and the great kingdoms of Africa,” Snipes told THR. “It had cultural significance, social significance. It was something that the black community and the white community hadn’t seen before.”
With Stan Lee’s blessing, Snipes was prepared to share the story of the Wakanda hero but was met with an inordinate amount of red tape.
Director uncertainty was a major problem for the production, with names like Mario Van Peebles and John Singleton making a short list. Snipes never met with Van Peebles, and he didn’t agree with Singleton’s vision of placing T’Challa (Black Panther) in the American Civil Rights Movement.
“I love John, but I am so glad we didn’t go down that road, because that would have been the wrong thing to do with such a rich project,” Snipes admits today. He went on, “Ultimately, we couldn’t find the right combination of script and director and, also at the time, we were so far ahead of the game in the thinking, the technology wasn’t there to do what they had already created in the comic book.”
When it comes to the new film, Snipes is nothing but supportive.
“Even though I am not a part of this particular project, I support it 1,000 percent, and I am absolutely convinced that it will be a catalyst for change and open other doors and other opportunities,” he says. “And we need that kind of diversity and different flavor now. [Boseman] is a young, talented actor, and I think he is going to make it his own. I hope they give him a great opportunity to really come into the fullness of the character.”
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.