After his glorious debut in 2016's Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) will soon step into his Vibranium suit once more for his first-ever solo movie. It's been a long road to the silver screen since his first appearance in Marvel Comics, but a version of the Black Panther story almost happened in the 1990s with Wesley Snipes in front of the camera, and John Singleton behind it. As it turns out, Singleton's vision for the story was radically different from the source material that would've eschewed Wakanda in favor of a focus on the civil rights movement. Snipes opened up in a recent interview and explained:
So it sounds like Wesley Snipes wanted to make a direct adaptation of the Black Panther source material -- in which T'Challa, the king of Wakanda, dons the mantle of Black Panther. On the other hand, according to the THR piece, John Singleton wanted to do a looser adaptation of the material that would put the titular hero in the midst of the civil rights movement. That story would have been focused on him coping with his son's more radical ideology about racial politics.
It's hard to say whether or not John Singleton's vision for a Black Panther movie would've worked. The Boyz n the Hood director's idea arguably sounds a bit more Luke Cage than Black Panther, but it's also worth remembering that loose adaptations of comic book material have worked in the past. Wesley Snipes' vision for the tale was clearly more faithful to the comic book lore, but Singleton's ideas may have been more technologically feasible for what a 1990s filmmaker had at his disposal.
In the end, however, Wesley Snipes admitted that he ultimately ended up feeling happy that the unfinished Black Panther project never proceeded. He didn't want to make the radical version of the story inherent in John Singleton's vision for the character, and a version of Snipes' vision would eventually become the basis for Ryan Coogler's Marvel Cinematic Universe take on the character in this year's Black Panther. Besides, Wesley Snipes would eventually get to take on the mantle of another Marvel hero when Blade premiered in 1998, so he still got to secure his place in the annals of comic book movie history.
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We only have a couple of weeks left until Ryan Coogler's Black Panther premieres in theaters on February 16. Initial critic reactions to the film have already hit the web, so check them out and start gearing up for T'Challa's first solo adventure! From there, Black Panther will make his next appearance in the MCU alongside the rest of Earth's mightiest heroes when Avengers: Infinity War premieres on May 4.