Why "Selma" Director Ava DuVernay Passed On Marvel's "Black Panther"

Earlier this year, the internet was all but sure that "Selma" director Ava DuVernay would be joining Marvel Studios to helm the company's first black superhero solo film in "Black Panther." But the full story of why she won't be taking the gig is more complicated than Hollywood rumor.

Speaking to the female blogger-focused 2015 BlogHer conference (as reported by THR), DuVernay went into detail on her thought process during negotiations with Marvel over the job. "For me, it was a process of trying to figure out, are these people I want to go to bed with? Because it's really a marriage, and for this it would be three years. It'd be three years of not doing other things that are important to me. So it was a question of, is this important enough for me to do?" she said.

The director went on to say that she was close to inking the deal -- mostly for the cultural reach the project would give her. "At one point, the answer was yes because I thought there was value in putting that kind of imagery into the culture in a worldwide, huge way, in a certain way: excitement, action, fun, all those things, and yet still be focused on a black man as a hero - that would be pretty revolutionary. These Marvel films go everywhere from Shanghai to Uganda, and nothing that I probably will make will reach that many people, so I found value in that. That's how the conversations continued, because that's what I was interested in. But everyone's interested in different things."

As that turn indicates, ultimately the filmmaker and the studio couldn't connect over specifics -- making DuVernay only the latest director to bristle at the heavy hand Marvel has in making its movies fit in line with the over-arching vision of their shared universe.

"What my name is on means something to me - these are my children," she said of her overall collection of work. "This is my art. This is what will live on after I'm gone. So it's important to me that that be true to who I was in this moment. And if there's too much compromise, it really wasn't going to be an Ava DuVernay film."

Tellingly, the director added one note for the press outlets reporting her as a done deal on the film. "It was really an enlightened day in terms of the quality of journalism," she said.

Starry Chadwick Boseman in the title role, Marvel Studios' "Black Panther" is expected to arrive in theaters on July 6, 2018.

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