first_img After being first willed into existence two years ago, famous follow-up to beloved but bad 1990s basketball movie Space Jam is getting even closer to actually existing. Instead of Michael Jordan, LeBron James is the live-action superstar athlete because of course. His cartoon co-stars remain Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the rest of the Looney Tunes. However, the most recent news is that Terence Nance of the experimental HBO sketch comedy show Random Acts of Flyness will be directing while new filmmaking superstar Ryan Coogler is producing. Like we said, Space Jam is a bad movie. But Coogler’s sterling record now has us interested in the sequel. Keep reading to learn more about the artist who made Black Panther’s this year smartest superhero hit.At last, like a king ascending his throne, Black Panther has completed his journey from underappreciated long-running Marvel Comics character to Captain America: Civil War supporting character all the way up to star of his own masterpiece of a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. On-screen we can now see great actors like Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Forest Whitaker, and Angela Bassett bring Wakanda’s rich cast of characters to life. However, before we all see the movie, I want to talk about the man behind the camera who has worked so hard to give us the Afrofuturist superhero movie we deserve. Let’s talk about why Ryan Coogler is such a cool director.A USC film school graduate, Coogler directed various short films from 2009 to 2011. Considering the types of short films folks fresh out of film schools tend to direct, the fact that Coogler’s work won several awards was an early hint that he was the real deal.However, movie buffs really started paying attention to Coogler in 2013 after he wrote and directed his first feature-length movie Fruitvale Station. On paper, the film tells the story of the death of Oscar Grant, a young Black man from San Francisco unjustly shot and murdered by police officers in 2009 at the titular train stop. But the bulk of the movie is a fictionalized take on the day before Grant’s death, a day that to him and everyone else was just a normal day. Grant’s life is what mattered, not just the tragedy of his death. This film also marked the first collaboration between Coogler and actor Michael B. Jordan, who has appeared in every one of Coogler’s films since including the upcoming Black Panther.After the critical success of the relatively serious and low-key Fruitvale Station, Coogler surprised everyone by choosing to direct Creed, the next Rocky film. Set after the climactic Rocky Balboa, the film stars Jordan as Adonis Creed, the conflicted son of the late Apollo “Not Muhammad Ali” Creed training under an even older Rocky of course played by Sylvester Stallone. Considering Stallone’s attachment to the series despite its varying levels of quality, it was hard to predict how this one would turn out. Would it be great or would it fail to unseat bad Floridian grunge bands and video games about assassins as the one true Creed?Amazingly, Creed was arguably the best film of 2015. It was fun and emotional and inspiring and artistic. It was full of life and charm and modern energy while still feeling absolutely like a Rocky movie. It’s the best kind of fan fiction in that it builds upon what works about the world of the original with rejuvenating fresh ideas and characters. It made me cry. Just like the original, Oscar-winning 1976 Rocky, Creed was a real film with real themes about legacy and family, not some dumb cartoon about punching Russians. Sorry The Force Awakens, but Creed was by far the best seventh entry in a beloved 1970s movie franchise released in 2015. Stallone gives his greatest performance in decades, but the real miracle is that the film ultimately feels like the work of Ryan Coogler.Fruitvale Station showed Coogler wanted to imbue his films with a Black social consciousness and unique auteur look and feel perspective. Creed proved he could still do that while also making crowd-pleasing blockbusters that were part of long-running franchises controlled by other people with big egos. All of these traits are crucial for making an authentic Black Panther movie while still operating under the thumb of Disney and Marvel.We already saw hints of Coogler’s take, on the character. He rewrote some of T’Challa’s scenes in Civil War, and most agree Black Panther is a particularly bright spot in that movie. Ava DuVernay would have been an amazing pick for a Black Panther director, but after she declined in favor of A Wrinkle in Time, courting Coogler next to write and direct was a brilliant move on Marvel’s part. Coogler has already said this is his “most personal” film yet.The modern blockbuster movie machine has a young talent problem. The crop has not been maintained. As old masters get too old or disinterested to direct these vital studio tentpole features, there aren’t enough up and coming filmmakers to take their place. Studios get so desperate they pluck indie guys (but never gals) with potential but not nearly enough experience to survive the big-budget obstacle course.Colin Trevorrow directed the pretty good $750,000 comedy Safety Not Guaranteed and then immediately directed the profitable but bad $150 million Jurassic World. Josh Trank directed the great superhero movie Chronicle and then the awful Fantastic Four reboot. Some can weather this transition like Godzilla/Rogue One’s Gareth Edwards and Pete’s Dragon’s David Lowery, but this unsustainable practice can seriously sour audiences on promising filmmakers who aren’t quite ripe yet.What first gave me hope for Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, besides the high quality of his previous movies, is that we have watched him come up through the studio system the right way. The scale of his movies has grown safely and naturally, and he properly prepared himself to comfortably tackle a big-budget superhero film while retaining his auteur touch. This is the same reason why Rian Johnson was a great choice to handle famous cannibal film Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And now Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther has prove once again that both the character and the artist are the real deal.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on target ‘Cannon Busters’ Is The Black Anime We’ve Been Waiting…‘Dolemite Is My Name’ Trailer Shows Bawdy Blaxploitation Biopic last_img read more