After nearly 20 years in Development Hell, the heroic King of Wakanda is once again on the path towards a major motion picture debut. The Hollywood Reporter brought news this week that Marvel Studios is actively developing a live-action adaptation of Black Panther, the classic superhero created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The project is being overseen by Marvel's Kevin Feige, presumably as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and written by Mark Bailey (Pandemic: Facing AIDS and Ghost of Abu Ghraib).The brilliant King and protector of fictional African nation Wakanda, Black Panther has been the subject of numerous aborted film projects dating back as early as 1992. Wesley Snipes was for years the name most closely associated with a Black Panther movie despite his prominence as another Marvel superhero, the vampire hunter Blade.

Mark Bailey is known for his work on powerful documentaries like Pandemic: Facing AIDS and Ghost of Abu Ghraib, and is presently working on a film based on the non-fiction book, The Last of the Tribe: The Epic Quest to Save a Lone Man in the Amazon. The Hollywood Reporter writes that Bailey's seemingly incongruous background is in keeping with Marvel's pattern of staffing of its movies with unusual people, including Shakespearean Kenneth Branagh as the director of Thor, actor-comedian Jon Favreau as the director of Iron Man, and Ordinary People writer Alvin Sargent as a screenwriter for Spider-Man. It seems likely that Bailey will bring gritty realism to Black Panther by way of his experience in documentaries.

Regardless of the personnel, news of a Black Panther film is certainly welcome around here. We have to wonder, though, what our fans at Boycott-Thor.com will have to say when the film's dark-skinned star is eventually identified. Sponsored by the racist Council of Conservative Citizens, Boycott-Thor wrote that Black Panther is an "extremist black power character," and that the BET animated series based on Black Panther is "viciously anti-white" (just for extra laughs, the site also contains the words, [Reginald Hudlin] has a made a career as a writer and director for black media, including The Great White Hype which denigrates white athletes").

[Via The Hollywood Reporter]