“Black Panther” is set to premiere on Feb. 16, but according to actor Wesley Snipes, it should’ve happened way back in the 1990s.
Snipes, famous for starring in “Blade” and “White Men Can’t Jump,” ran into trouble when he wanted to get the comic book made into a movie because people just weren’t getting what he meant by “Black Panther.” He wanted the superhero, not the Civil Rights activists of the 1960s.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, he struggled to get the uninitiated to understand what he meant. “They think you want to come out with a black beret and clothing and then there’s a movie,” he said. Snipes added that the story behind the hero “spoke to” him, so he really wanted the chance to get it exactly right.
“I think Black Panther spoke to me because he was noble, and he was the antithesis of the stereotypes presented and portrayed about Africans, African history and the great kingdoms of Africa,” Snipes told THR. “It had cultural significance, social significance. It was something that the black community and the white community hadn’t seen before.”
Snipes had Marvel creator Stan Lee’s blessing, but issues continued to plague the production.
“We went through three different scripts and a couple of different director options — very interesting director options at the time,” Snipes says, chuckling. One director, John Singleton (“Boyz n the Hood“), wanted to make the superhero a part of the civil rights organization, which was not what Snipes was looking to do.
“I am loosely paraphrasing our conversation. But ultimately, John wanted to take the character and put him in the civil rights movement,” he said. “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.”
While Snipes never got his chance to play the character now helmed by Chadwick Boseman, but he is fully behind the “young, talented actor.”
He added, “Even though I am not a part of this particular project, I support it 1,000 percent… I think he is going to make it his own. I hope they give him a great opportunity to really come into the fullness of the character.”
Snipes’ 1990s vision of showing off a regal image of Africa is definitely looking like it’s coming to life if the purple carpet offerings are any indication. And with early reviews indicating it’ll be amazing, he might be a bit glad it didn’t happen when it did.