The world awaits Marvel’s Black Panther, a movie that already has a near-perfect Rotten Tomatoes score and they type of buzz that studio execs only dream about. But, it took many years for the King of Wakanda to make it to the big screen, and the film’s producers now admit that an earlier version of the film was even more ambitious than the one hitting theaters next week.
On Thursday, at the European premiere of Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther in London, producers Nate Moore and Victoria Alonso told Digital Spy that an earlier draft of the Black Panther screenplay was more “daring.”
“The original draft of the script was even more ambitious than the film, if you can believe it,” Nate Moore said. “It was really about, ‘Hey, we have all this great material, how do we help [Ryan] focus it?’ That was a big part of our pre-production process. It was really digging down to the bones of the story that needed to be told. Ryan and [co-writer] Joe Robert Cole are fantastic and they helped us get there really fast.”
Alonso also said that the challenge of Black Panther was “you put everything in the bag, and then you start [removing] what we have to leave behind.”
Black Panther is already an ambitious film, with critics calling it one of the most important films in the Marvel canon, let alone of the year. (It’s only February, too!) It’s rare for a mega-budget superhero film to not only portray a regal vision of Africa that isn’t slightly comedic (Coming to America), but also tackle heavy themes such as colonialism and the nuances of the black experience, at home and abroad, all while making sure to sell new action figures.
Because Alonso nor Moore explained exactly how ambitious previous drafts were, one can only speculate. Maybe those drafts contained more direct social commentary, exploring more themes such as interracial relationships — one of T’Challa’s exes in the comics is Nikki Adams, a white law student who dated T’Challa when he was a student in America — or maybe T’Challa fought actual white racists, like he’s done in the comics.
A Black Panther movie has been waiting for a chance to pounce ever since Wesley Snipes tried, and ultimately failed, to make one under New Line Cinema in the Nineties. (Snipes later starred in Blade, another black Marvel superhero with less thematic resonance, which became a box office hit in 1998.) But even then, Snipes recognized the significance of a royal African kingdom more advanced than any other civilization on Earth. One can only guess what those movies would have looked like.
Marvel’s Black Panther will be released on February 16.