Wesley Snipes backs the upcoming release of “Black Panther” all the way and the film’s highly-anticipated debut has re-opened speculation surrounding his own quest to produce a movie about the Marvel superhero decades ago. And while it didn’t come to fruition, it launched the “Blade” series and got Marvel out of a dark spot.
For the first time, Snipes addressed how a revolving door of scripts and directors, along with inadequate technology caused his quest to bring the world of Wakanda to the big screen in the 1990s to stall.
The actor told The Hollywood Reporter he loved that Black Panther “was the antithesis of the stereotypes presented and portrayed about Africans, African history and the great kingdoms of Africa.” He also loved the idea of advanced technology portrayed in the comics.
Snipes wanted to represent Africa in a way that reflects the “glorious periods of African empires and African royalty.” As such, the contacted Black directors to head the film and one of them was John Singleton, who had come off directing hits like “Boyz n the Hood.”
“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.'”
“And I’m like, ‘Dude! Where’s the toys?!” he said of Singleton’s civil rights take on the project. “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 cited a failure to put together the right blend of a director and script.
“Also at the time, 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,” he added.
Yet those steps set things in motion for Blade, the vampire hunter character who was half-mortal and half-immortal. The 1998 film grossed $131 million worldwide and set the tone for future Marvel hits like “X-Men” in 2000 and “Spider-Man” in 2002. Marvel could put it’s 1996 bankruptcy filing behind it.
“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.”