Denzel Washington wasn’t aware of Reddit’s AMAs before finally doing one on Friday. "I had never even heard of that thing," he told me, with a laugh, in an interview this morning. And he is learning that when you name drop a Marvel superhero, particularly one that is on the docket to receive a film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Internet is going to sit up and pay attention.
In his AMA, Denzel Washington hinted at the fact that Marvel was making a Black Panther movie. He was asked about superheroes, so he jumped on Green Lantern ("Didn’t they do the Green Lantern? With Ryan Reynolds! Too late!") and mentioned, briefly, Marvel’s mighty hero, T’Challa. As luck would have it, I was sitting down with Denzel Washington this morning in Toronto on behalf of his stellar thriller The Equalizer, and I brought up the buzz that circulated following his Marvel mentions. As it turns out, though, where’s there’s smoke, there is … well, just smoke.
When I asked Washington if he’d even been approached by Marvel to play a hero, he said, "Nope." And when I asked if it was something he’d even be interested in, he confessed:
I’m probably getting too old. They didn’t make the Black Panther yet, though, did they? I heard that they have been talking about it. That’s cool."
Is Denzel Washington too old to play the Black Panther on screen? At 59, he’d be at the far end of the range that includes Robert Downey Jr. (49 years old) and Elizabeth Olsen (25). At the same time, Marvel now is in a spot where they are going out of their way to cast amazing, older, distinguished character actors such as Robert Redford and Michael Douglas for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Ant-Man respectively. Heck, early Marvel films like Iron Man and Captain America: The First Avenger had Jeff Bridges, Stanley Tucci and Tommy Lee Jones. There’s room in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for Denzel Washington, believe me.
Alas, it sounds like it is for not. Even though Denzel Washington has proven fully capable of handling himself in meaty action roles, his franchise hopes likely are tied to The Equalizer. Sony already has greenlit a sequel, The Equalizer 2, and you’ll see how this one sets up what could be a lengthy stay in Boston for Washington’s avenging angel. So a stop in Wakanda likely isn’t in the cards for Denzel, but he’s having fun fanning the flames.