It seems like the obvious decision, but the official announcement is a relief regardless: Ryan Coogler is confirmed to be writing and directing the sequel to his breakout superhero blockbuster Black Panther. The first film was a cultural and capital juggernaut, pocketing over $1.3 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film by a black director ever.
Why is this such a relief? Well, for one thing, Marvel hasn’t always stood by its filmmakers. The Russos have graduated from Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War to the Avengers sequels, but in each case they replaced Joe Johnston and Joss Whedon, respectively. Taika Waiti smashed Thor: Ragnarok, but that series has had three different directors for each instalment.
This is an example of the shift towards trusting directors a little more, instead of firing them for having too unique a visual style and replacing them with Peyton Reed. We’re also soon to see what happens when you make a sequel without Coogler.
His calling card for Black Panther, directed between it and his low-budget drama debut Fruitvale Station, was Creed. The Rocky spin-off was unexpectedly fantastic, a nuanced character drama and meditation on the passage of time as well as having some baller boxing action. Coogler declined to return for the sequel, which looks to be playing to the lowest common denominator with a Stallone script that brings back Ivan Drago from Rocky IV. Sigh.
Maybe now you can see our relief that Black Panther 2 will retain its creative voice, rather than attempting to replicate it or just diverging from a winning formula to diminishing returns. It’s not clear yet when Coogler will direct the film, since before then we’ve got another Spider-Man, Avengers and Captain Marvel.
Coogler is also keeping busy with the Wrong Answer, a drama starring frequent collaborator Michael B Jordan and written by Black Panther comics writer Ta-Nehisi Coates which he will produce, and the Space Jam sequel starring LeBron James which he will executive produce and ten-year-old me can’t believe is real.