Marvel has reinvigorated efforts to adapt its Black Panther character to film, all part of its effort to wean America off the habit of comic-book movies using the old “smoke a carton of cigarettes” approach of making a shit-ton of them all at once. Although to be fair, Black Panther has been kicking around for a while: The story of an African chief who became American comics’ first black superhero was, in the early 1990s, conceived of as an Indiana Jones-like adventure starring Wesley Snipes. (Most recently, BET adapted its as an online-only animated series starring Djimon Hounsou.) While Snipes is no doubt at this very minute telling his fellow inmates about how he plans to approach the character, producers behind the project quietly moved on back in 2005, and have now hired Mark Bailey to write a new screenplay.
Bailey’s credits include story editing work on HBO documentaries Pandemic: Facing AIDS and Ghosts Of Abu Ghraib, as well as writing the upcoming, possibly Doug Liman-directed adaptation of The Last Of The Tribe: The Epic Quest To Save A Lone Man In The Amazon. As Heat Vision points out, it’s at first glance an unusual choice for Marvel to hire someone whose background is solely in non-fiction, but it hints at the realistic direction they’re hoping the project will take. Given that the Black Panther dealt with ripped-from-the-headlines issues of racism and apartheid in South Africa, while also being about a guy who gets his power from eating a magical heart-shaped herb, finding that grounding is probably important.