While fans thought that Selma director Ava Duvernay would be signing onboard for Marvel’s “Black Panther,” it turns out that’s not exactly the case. Duvernay has turned down the offer and for what is a pretty good reason.
At the recent blogger confer “BlogHer,” Duvernay discussed why she had passed on the project. She started with how the negotiations had been going. She wanted to make sure the people involved were ones she could “go to bed with” as she put it. Collaborating is always a kind of marriage, so she had to be certain that she could do that for three years. “It’d be three years of not doing other things that are important to me. So it was a question of, is this important enough for me to do?” she said.
Duvernay said she was very close to signing the contract, as she was excited about the cultural opportunities that came with it. A superhero movie with a black lead is a huge deal when it comes to the film industry and the reach the movie might have given her was what had initially drawn her to the project. “At one point, the answer was yes because I thought there was value in putting that kind of imagery into the culture in a worldwide, huge way, in a certain way: excitement, action, fun, all those things, and yet still be focused on a black man as a hero — that would be pretty revolutionary. These Marvel films go everywhere from Shanghai to Uganda, and nothing that I probably will make will reach that many people, so I found value in that. That’s how the conversations continued, because that’s what I was interested in. But everyone’s interested in different things.”
In the end, Duvernay decided to pass on the project due to different views on how the movie would fit into the overarching universe Marvel prides itself on.
“What my name is on means something to me — these are my children,” she said about her work. “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.”
While it’s sad to see such an amazing director pass up on a film like this, you have to admire her integrity. She’s not about to sell out on something she doesn’t believe in, a quality that seems to be lacking in the film industry lately.
Black Panther will feature Starry Chadwick Boseman in the title role and is expected to premiere July 6, 2018.
It’s a brand new year, which means a whole new slew of movies – with no pressure of being the next greatest thing – unlike the action-packed December. A fair amount of these films came out in 2014 internationally but are just getting to the States and a couple more have been pushed back from previous release dates. There’s a little something for everyone here.
January 9 – Inherent Vice
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Jena Malone, Benecio del Toro, Maya Rudolph, Michael K Williams (Omar!)
*Originally scheduled to be released 12/12/14
Based off the book of the same name by Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice follows pothead Detective Doc Sportello (played by Joaquin Phoenix) who is investigating the disappearance of his ex-girlfriends current boyfriend. The book has so many characters, it is unlikely that the movie will follow the book to a tee, but with an all-star cast, it surely will not disappoint. It looks absolutely irreverent and hilarious. Set in the 70’s, it will be slightly reminiscent of last year’s American Hustle, but with a little more mystery. – Adrian
January 9 – Selma
Starring: David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding Jr., Common, Wendell Pierce (Bunk from The Wire), Lorraine Toussaint (Dee from OITNB)
This movie could not have come out at a more opportune time. With the racial and political turmoil coming to a boiling point lately, the world needs a powerful movie like Selma. With an All-Star cast of strong black actors, Selma has already been given critical acclaim and is nominated for multiple Academy Awards. Plus, two of the biggest names in Hollywood are serving as Executive Producers – Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt. The focus of the film are the marches for voting rights, but the scope of the film seems to be to capture the spirit of the entire movement. More than just that, the film will give hope and inspiration to the civil rights movement that is still being fought today. – Sherif
January 9 – Predestination
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook
It’s been over a decade since Minority Report came out, but that doesn’t mean it’s too soon to borrow the plot to make a new movie out of it, right? Predestination is what we wanted Minority Report to be. This Australian film (which can be found in its entirety on YouTube) was released last August, but is finding its way to U.S. theaters next week. It’s about a futuristic detective force that uses time travel to stop crime from happening before they happen, but there seems to be an emphasis more on the science than the fiction with this film. – Sherif
It’s almost over, you guys. The dawning of the final installment to the Liam Neeson trilogy is almost upon us. Thank God. This movie didn’t really need a sequel, but now that the sequel happened, there might as well be a final explosion of glorious murder. It is a little over the top, but what the hell. Chances are that you have already made your mind up on whether or not to see the finale, and my words won’t try to convince you one way or another to go see it. – Sherif
January 16 – American Sniper
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Max Charles, Luke Grimes
*Originally scheduled to be released 12/25/14
If you know the name Chris Kyle then you also know you NEVER want to be on his bad side and at a distance. American Sniper is an exciting chronicling of real life Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the most decorated and deadly sniper-gunman in history. With more than 150 confirmed kills and completing four tours of duty, Kyle appropriately earned the nickname “Legend.” The preview had my heart racing and my hairs on end as Kyle (portrayed by Bradly Cooper) decides whether or not to take out a child carrying what might be a bomb while rushing toward an American-military convoy traveling through what looks like rugged alleys of an Iraqi village. This film will take us though not just the dangerous battles of this hero’s life, but also the critical struggle of balance a family from afar and functioning as a normal civilian. 150 kills and four tours is certain to leave some lasting marks on an individual. I’ve honestly never seen a war/soldier movie that I’ve disliked or felt wasn’t worth the price of my movie ticket. Especially when the film takes on the stories of real-life patriots that have risked their lives and mental fortitude to protect the freedoms that many of us often take for granted. This one should definitely be on your list this month. – Taylor
January 16 – Blackhat
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Tang Wei
Chris Hemsworth battles hackers and probably frost giants in this movie about a super-hacker that is attacking banks and corporations all over the world. The one hope that the Chinese & American authorities have to stop this hacker is Thor, apparently. As interesting as it seems at first glance, this really sounds like just a way to capitalize on all the fear the world already has about keeping their identities secure. I’m up in the air as far as recommending this film, but if can be convinced that Thor is a master hacker capable of taking down the world’s most powerful cyber-hacker, then you are already closer to wanting to seeBlackhat than I am. – Sherif
I wish this had been the first trailer I saw for the movie Paddington. The trailer that first hit America was full of gross bathroom practices, but it looks like this movie is gonna be full of feels. The film based off the children’s book and toy line is going to be adorable. There is a definite Stuart Little vibe as far as the story goes, and this story concept has been beaten to the ground, but the dry British humor should be enough to separate it from its predecessors. If you’re looking for a movie to see with the kids, this might be the one, but don’t expect this to change the game. – Sherif
January 16 – The Wedding Ringer
Starring: Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, Kaley Cuoco, Affion Crockett
Kevin Hart is at a crossroads in his career; one more crappy movie like Ride Along (it wasn’t THAT bad, but it was entirely forgettable), and he is destined to fall into obscurity like Katt Williams before him, or Eddie Griffin before him. If he can keep the ball rolling, though, then he keeps his crown as the funniest man in comedy. The concept of this movie is somewhere between the lines of I Love You, Man and Hitch, where Kevin Hart is paid for his services as a best man at a wedding. I’m really looking forward to The Wedding Ringer taking comedy back to feel-good entertainment instead of the two-hour long penis jokes they have become. – Sherif
January 16 – Escobar: Paradise Lost
Starring: Josh Hutcherson, Benicio del Toro
You know those movies where the guy is trying to get in with his girlfriend’s family? And then everybody has a good time while they learn more about each other and themselves than they bargained for? Yeah, this is not that film. This isn’t Robert De Niro we’re talking about; this is Pablo freakin Escobar here. Poor Peeta Mallark may have defied the Capitol and the Hunger Games, but finding himself on the opposite end of an argument with the most well-known and respected drug lord in the world means that he is screwed! – Sherif
January 23 – Mortdecai
Starring: Johnny Depp, Gwenyth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Munn, Jeff Goldblum, Aubrey Plaza
Everybody loves Johnny Depp, right? WRONG. This guy has been putting out suckfests for years, and people keep seeing them. You have to give him this, though: the guy is fun to watch. Seeing the movie poster gave me an entirely different reaction than when I watched the trailer. This movie looks absurdly awesome. Mortdecai, besides being one of the fanciest men on Earth, is like a classy version of Austin Powers (or an idiot version of James Bond). Word on the streets is that this will eventually become a franchise, so familiarize yourself with this weirdo. It’s great to see Depp back in a role that does his weirdness justice. – Sherif
It may not be Star Wars, but Lucasfilm is back. Strange Magic looks like a lot of fun, and is described as “a beautiful fairy tale with goblins and elves, and do it in a way that only [Lucasfilm] can do. (Source: Yahoo)” With Star Wars sold and off the table for Lucas, this is really his time to let loose and do what he wants creatively. As far as kids movies go, this should blow Paddington out of the water, just for the fact that it’s new and creative – something that needs to be applauded more these days. Either way, it looks like George Lucas is back in the lab and having fun making movies, and that is a win for everyone. – Sherif
January 23 – The Boy Next Door
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Ryan Guzman, Kristin Chenoweth
Here’s an interesting one. JLo plays a MILF fantasy gone wrong. Hot suburban cougar gives in and sleeps with her student aaaaaaand then he becomes a psycho stalker who endangers her life, career and family. Did I lose you at JLo MILF fantasy? This is supposed to be a thriller, and although I know the trailer isn’t a lot to go off of, it does have the certain creepy suspense you want in that genre of film – if not just for the thought that something this crazy could realistically happen. Look for the “Booty” singer to continue to try to really milk her time in the limelight as a sexual object. – Sherif
January 30 – Black or White
Starring: Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer, Bill Burr, Gillian Jacobs
This movie is a huge eyebrow-raiser for me. On one side, you have Kevin Costner’s character, who has tried to raise his black grand-daughter, Eloise, by himself after the passing of his wife and daughter (mother to the child). Meanwhile, you have Octavia Spencer, who is fighting for the grand-daughter for custody. Maybe there’s some big Kumbayah moment where the reluctantly racist white guy and the black mom learn to live in harmony and share custody of the grand-daughter, but I foresee an awkward racial mud-slinger, and very little about what is actually best for Eloise. It’s gotten some pretty crappy reviews since it’s minor, independent release last September, so don’t be surprised when it turns out being awful. – Sherif
January 30 – Project Almanac (AKA Welcome to Yesterday)
Starring: Jonny Weston, Sofia Black D’Elia, Amy Landecker
I am a total sucker for these kind of home-made science-fiction movies that have been the trend the past few years, so when this this time traveling flick came up on the new releases, I got stoked. Unfortunately, this thing has been delayed almost a year, which is a shame since 2014 was an overall weak movie for indy sci-fi. Like Chronicle before it, this group of kids have fun with their new-found discoveries, but soon realize that there are serious repercussions to what they are doing. You may have let Michael Bay ruin your childish with TMNT, but this is one of his projects I could definitely get behind. – Sherif