It's been rumored for weeks, and now it's official: Ryan Coogler will direct Marvel's upcoming "Black Panther."
Coogler, who also helmed this year's "Rocky" spinoff, "Creed," was confirmed for the job by Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige, who discussed the director in a new interview with Empire magazine (as transcribed by Polygon). Coogler has been in the Oscar conversation this year for his work on "Creed," and also won an Independent Spirit Award for his debut drama, "Fruitvale Station." It made sense to attract a director of his caliber, Feige told Empire.
"This one is important," Feige said of "Black Panther," and its place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. "Not only do you get an unbelievable lead character, but you also get all of Wakanda which is a whole new setting and culture to explore."
Marvel was initially interested in "Selma" director Ava DuVernay for the job, though she passed on the project. According to Variety, F. Gary Gray ("Straight Outta Compton") was also considered, and it took some convincing to land Coogler, who initially turned down the job earlier this year before Marvel approached him again. But Cooger's chops will lend themselves well to the scope of the story Marvel wants to tell, according to Feige.
"The movie is a big geopolitical action adventure that focuses on the family and royal struggle of T'Challa in Wakanda and what it means to be a king," the exec told Empire.
"Black Panther" stars Chadwick Boseman. It hits theaters on February 16, 2018.
Photo credit: Getty Images for CinemaCon