When Ta-Nehisi Coates—a national correspondent for The Atlantic, author of the stunning Between the World and Me, and recipient of both the 2015 National Book Award and the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship—decided to pick up the mantle of the Marvel Comics series, Black Panther, many were a little bit surprised. What would compel such a prominent voice on race relations in America to turn to the 1966 Stan Lee/Jack Kirby creation?
Apparently, Coates grew up devouring comic books, so a chance to add his own touch to the 2016 reboot must have been the opportunity of a lifetime for the 41-year-old Baltimore native. His collaboration with illustrator Brian Stelfreeze has produced several vivid, startlingly prescient volumes that breathe new life into the series and have brought a new readership to a prominently white, male genre.
Even more exciting news came when Marvel Studios announced last February that a film adaptation of Black Panther is slated to release on July 6, 2018. Chadwick Boseman, known for his roles in 42 and Gods of Egypt, appeared in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War as T’Challa/Black Panther, and is set to reprise his role for the upcoming film.
On January 5, Marvel also announced that Sterling K. Brown, who received critical acclaim for his role as Christopher Darden in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, will take on the role N’Jobu—a mysterious character who does not appear in Coates’ series.
Ever since the release of 2012’s The Avengers, the studio has been churning our blockbuster after blockbuster. Following the success of actors like James McCoy and Michael Fassbender in the previous X-Men films, this could be a big breakthrough for Boseman, who’s joining the Marvel franchise at its peak. Money in the bank, right?
Not to mention, Boseman will star alongside a cast of intimidating heavy hitters, which means the young actor better bring his A-game. Forest Whitaker, Martin Freeman, Michael B. Jordan, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o and Angela Bassett are several cast members who will share top billing.
I guess we’ll have to wait and be surprised, but with a cast like that, it’s practically guaranteed not to disappoint.