Before 'Blade', Wesley Snipes Almost Made A 'Black Panther' Film For Marvel
With Marvel’s Black Panther having its premiere earlier this week, Wesley Snipes has revealed that he once attempted to make his own movie adaptation of the black superhero but the project never came to fruition.
When first attempting to bring Black Panther to life in the ’90s, Snipes said he saw the Marvel superhero project as a “cultural movement.”
Having received support from Stan Lee, Snipes set out to create the movie but immediately received pushback because people thought he wanted to make a movie on the civil rights group of the same name.
“They think you want to come out with a black beret and clothing and then there’s a movie,” Snipes told The Hollywood Reporter.
Nevertheless, Columbia had signed on as the film’s studio, with Snipes now having to find a screenwriter and director, with Mario Van Peebles and John Singleton the main ones discussed for the latter.
However, Singleton’s vision of Black Panther didn’t line up with Snipes’ at all.
“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,” Snipes said. “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,” Snipes continued. “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.”
Ultimately, Snipes didn’t go with Singleton. But at least he had found a screenwriter in Terry Hayes, whose pitch to Columbia execs left former Marvel editor in chief Tom DeFalco impressed.
“I just remember as the writer was describing the scene, I could see it in my mind,” DeFalco said. “[I thought], ‘If this is our Black Panther movie, sign me up!’ He really had a terrific handle on the character, on the action, on the stakes and everything else.”
Unfortunately, the project stalled, with Snipes not only being able to find the right director and screenwriter, but his vision being so ahead of its time. However, Snipes applied his experiences trying to create Black Panther to create a film adaptation for another black superhero: Blade.
“It was a natural progression and a readjustment,” Snipes said. “They both [Black Panther and Blade] had nobility. They both were fighters. So I thought, hey, we can’t do the King of Wakanda and the Vibranium and the hidden kingdom in Africa, let’s do a black vampire.”
Snipes also said that he’s supportive of Black Panther and believes the latest Marvel movie will “be a catalyst for change and open other doors and other opportunities.” And, of course, Snipes is always ready to return to the Blade franchise whenever.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter