Marvel will officially unleash Black Panther to the masses on Friday, though it’s already breaking records left and right and critics have confirmed that there is enough praise to support the massive hype around the movie. Basically, the movie is phenomenal, and even though it hasn’t even reached theaters quite yet, the president of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, is already telling Variety about plans for a sequel or two—and hopefully all directed by Ryan Coogler.
The idea for a Black Panther movie has been knocking around since the ‘90s, before the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it today, which started in earnest with Iron Man back in 2008. Wesley Snipes famously tried to build up enough hype to get a Panther movie made in the mid 1990s, but failed. For Feige, there’s a silver lining.
“I’m very glad this movie wasn’t made in 1992 because Ryan Coogler might not have been born,” he says of the Black Panther’s director, who has also made the acclaimed Fruitvale Station and Creed (both with Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan.)
Feige explains that back in 2008, when Marvel began its franchise by building the Avengers, “We were doing something that people had been waiting their entire lives to see.”
“That was something that a white male that grew up in the United States can take for granted,” he admits. “And you don’t take that for granted anymore. Everyone deserves to see themselves reflected on that silver screen and the inspiration that comes from it.”
However long it took Marvel to finally get the Black Panther ball rolling, Feige says it was always “the manifest destiny of Marvel Studios” to get around to “all facets of the Marvel universe.” Even though Black Panther as we know it now wasn’t a reality yet, Marvel has been dropping Wakanda Easter eggs since Iron Man 2. Feige remembers that at the very end of Iron Man 2, when Nick Fury discusses the Avengers with Tony Stark in his warehouse, there’s a map of Africa with a pinpoint on Wakanda. Also, as Feige points out in Avengers: Age of Ultron, “We talked about Vibranium for the first time and Bruce Banner mispronounces Wakanda.” Then, when T’Challa made an appearance in Captain America: Civil War, the whole process just sped up.
The casting of Black Panther was also remarkably easy for Marvel—well, at least for the starring role. “The minute we started talking about Black Panther, we brought up Chadwick,” Feige says. “He really was the only actor we discussed.”
The process to get him onboard was even easier. “I think it was 24 hours between saying his name in a creative story meeting and talking to his agent and getting on a phone with him and offering him the role of Black Panther, which he accepted,” Feige recounts.
Whenever a movie does as well as Black Panther is projected to do at the box office, talk of sequels begins creeping up, especially for Marvel; all their movies are sequels of each other, in a way. And for those who would be down to catch Black Panther 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 if it existed, Feige has a promising response.
“We always say we work on one movie at a time,” Feige says. “If you have any good ideas, put it in the movie you’re making. If you don’t, you might not be able to make another one. That said, Panther has been around for more than half a century in the comic books and there are many, many stories to tell."