If you haven’t heard of the Black Panther (the character or the franchise), you’ve probably been sleeping under a rock. From the moment Chadwick Boseman burst onto our screens as T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, the character has been a fan favorite. The character garnered so much love from fans that even after Boseman’s untimely passing in 2020, a sequel was made to the 2018 film. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever enjoyed a massively successful premiere weekend last weekend. Although Black Panther becoming a cultural phenomenon was probably expected and a part of Marvel’s overall plan, the initial plan for the character and subsequent films was completely different.
As it would happen, Wesley Snipes was intended to play the first ever Black Panther. Although Snipes was very passionate about the project, there were multiple factors that kept it from getting put into motion.
One of the major complications was the fact that there was significant confusion between the title of the movie and association with the Black Panther political party. As one would guess, this wasn’t an easy issue to overcome. On top of this, there wasn’t necessarily a strong scripting for the characters. This made it very difficult for Marvel and Snipes to find a director willing to lead the film.
Another factor that played a major role in the original film not coming to fruition was Snipes’ previous role with Marvel. The Orlando, Florida native played in the vampire hunter action film Blade, which was released in 1998 and the sequel in 2002. As Marvel was in bankruptcy, they sold off all major properties. Blade was a last ditch effort to save the studio from closure. The shocking success of the films not only saved Marvel but also spawned what we now know as the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). Around the time Snipes was trying to get the Black Panther project off the ground, he was advised to prioritize the production of Blade: Trinity which eventually released in 2014.
The Black Panther project was left unfinished until 2005 when it was announced as one of ten films being developed by Marvel Studios in their introduction of the MCU. Ryan Coogler took over the script in 2015 and the movie was released three years later. The rest is history. Although we’re not sure in what capacity, we’ll surely see more of the Black Panther in the future. Blade will also be making his MCU debut soon. In 2024, Mahershala Ali is set to play the title character in the reboot set for a September 4, 2024 release.
Crazy story right? Could you see Wesley Snipes as The Black Panther or is there no one else that could’ve played the beloved character? Slide in the comments and share your thoughts!