Ava DuVernay Isn’t Directing BLACK PANTHER

The director addresses the rumors.

Here is good news and bad news: Ava DuVernay won't be directing Black Panther. Why is that bad news? Well, selfishly, I really wanted to see DuVernay, director of the excellent Selma, step in and kick some ass in the nation of Wakanda. I think she's a really good filmmaker, and she would have been awesome on this picture. Plus, with Captain Marvel guaranteed to be directed by a woman it would have been neat to have two female filmmakers join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Why is it good news? I'll share it after the quote from DuVernay, who spoke to Essence: 

I’m not signing on to direct Black Panther. I think I’ll just say we had different ideas about what the story would be. Marvel has a certain way of doing things and I think they’re fantastic and a lot of people love what they do.

I loved that they reached out to me. I loved meeting Chadwick and writers and all the Marvel execs,” she adds. “In the end, it comes down to story and perspective. And we just didn’t see eye to eye. Better for me to realize that now than cite creative differences later… I love the character of Black Panther, the nation of Wakanda and all that that could be visually. I wish them well and will be first in line to see it.

This is good news for a couple of reasons. One is that it frees DuVernay up to do something that's possibly closer to her heart and more in line with what she wants to be making right now. The other is that it saves everybody the hassle of DuVernay dropping out later in the process, something she alludes to in her quote. 

See, Marvel makes movies a certain way, and that way doesn't always gibe with every filmmaker. Marvel builds in reshoots, and Marvel has a committee that gives aggressive notes on scripts. Marvel has a post-production process that is rigorous, and I have heard crazy stories about it, like the idea that they made Shane Black strip most of the jokes out of Iron Man Three and that they went back and forth over how many to have. I've heard tales of similar joke-free screenings of Guardians of the Galaxy early in the process.

That's how Marvel does it, and some filmmakers can thrive in that environment. The Russo Brothers, for instance and what Peyton Reed has said to me indicates that it works for him as well. I bet Adam McKay will do well with Marvel, should he sign on to direct a movie as he seems wanting to do, as he's a guy who is used to finding his movies in post and working through many iterations. Others - like Edgar Wright and seemingly Patty Jenkins - just cannot work under those conditions. And neither can Ava DuVernay. 

And that's okay! If a filmmaker is happy working in a producer-driven environment (the same one that gave us The Wizard of Oz, for instance) good for them. If they can't I hope they figure it out as early as DuVernay did. 

Now the speculation begins again: who will direct Black Panther? Marvel needs to have a director nailed down by the end of the summer, I think. Let's all keep our ears to the ground.