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Wesley Snipes spills details on his own Black Panther project from the '90s

01.30.2018

We're now mere weeks away from the release of the much-anticipated BLACK PANTHER, and the first reactions to the Marvel flick have been overwhelmingly positive, although to be fair, that's certainly not uncommon for a Marvel movie. That said, I can't see any reason why BLACK PANTHER won't be another huge success, but it will be well-earned as the road to bringing the character to the big-screen has been a long one. In the mid-1990s, Wesley Snipes got the ball rolling on his own BLACK PANTHER project, which, due to script-issues and conflicting visions, couldn't quite get off the ground.

Wesley Snipes spoke with THR about the BLACK PANTHER project, which the actor had pegged as his next film after a string of successes such as NEW JACK CITY, WHITE MEN CAN'T JUMP, and DEMOLITION MAN. "I think Black Panther spoke to me because he was noble, and he was the antithesis of the stereotypes presented and portrayed about Africans, African history and the great kingdoms of Africa," Snipes said. "It had cultural significance, social significance. It was something that the black community and the white community hadn’t seen before." With the blessing of Stan Lee, the project moved forward at Columbia Pictures, but they immediately ran into issues. The first hurdle was explaining that they were making a movie about a comic-book superhero and not the 1960s civil rights revolutionaries. "They think you want to come out with a black beret and clothing and then there’s a movie," Snipes explained.

Wesley Snipes added that they went through a handful of different scripts and potential directors, including Mario Van Peebles and John Singleton, the latter of whom Snipes did have a meeting with.

I laid on him my vision of the film being closer to what you see now: the whole world of Africa being a hidden, highly technically advanced society, cloaked by a force field, Vibranium. John was like, 'Nah! Hah! Hah! See, he’s got the spirit of the Black Panther, but he is trying to get his son to join the [civil rights activist] organization. And he and his son have a problem, and they have some strife because he is trying to be politically correct and his son wants to be a knucklehead.' I am loosely paraphrasing our conversation. But ultimately, John wanted to take the character and put him in the civil rights movement. And I’m like, 'Dude! Where’s the toys?! They are highly technically advanced, and it will be fantastic to see Africa in this light opposed to how Africa is typically portrayed.' I wanted to see the glory and the beautiful Africa. The jewel Africa.

Unfortunatly, despite the enthusiasm of everyone involved, the project just couldn't move forward. "Ultimately, we couldn’t find the right combination of script and director" Snipes said, adding that "we were so far ahead of the game in the thinking, the technology wasn’t there to do what they had already created in the comic book." It wasn't all a loss however, as Wesley Snipes was able to take what he learned on the BLACK PANTHER project and apply it to BLADE. Even though Snipes isn't involved with the upcoming BLACK PANTHER film, he's still hugely supportive of it. "Even though I am not a part of this particular project," Snipes said. "I support it 1,000 percent, and I am absolutely convinced that it will be a catalyst for change and open other doors and other opportunities," he says. "And we need that kind of diversity and different flavor now. He is a young, talented actor, and I think he is going to make it his own. I hope they give him a great opportunity to really come into the fullness of the character."

The official synopsis for BLACK PANTHER:

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king -and Black Panther- is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.

BLACK PANTHER will hit theaters on February 16, 2018.

Source: THR

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