Director Ryan Coogler Says ‘Black Panther’ Brought Him Closer To His Roots

Here's How 'Black Panther: The Album' Came Together

As a kid in Oakland, Calif., Ryan Coogler hung out at a comic book shop near his school, reading about superheroes who looked nothing like him.

“As I got older, I wanted to find a comic book character that looked like me and not just one that was on the sidelines,” Coogler says. “And I walk in and ask the guy at the desk that day, and say, ‘Hey man, you got any comic books here about black people, you know, like with a black superhero?’ And he was like, ‘Oh, yeah, as a matter of fact, we got this one.'”

That guy handed him a copy of Black Panther. And today, Coogler is the director of the Marvel movie adaptation about T’Challa — the king of fictional African nation Wakanda — who dons a super-science-powered suit to protect his people.

This superhero movie is actually a new challenge for Coogler, who’s only 31 years old. He got a ton of praise for his first film, Fruitvale Station, about an unarmed black man killed by a transit cop in Coogler’s hometown of Oakland. Then, he directed Creed, the latest Rocky movie — and now, Black Panther, which many hope will be a cultural turning point.

And Coogler says he’s feeling the pressure of those expectations. But, he adds, “for me, the pressure’s always been there, ’cause I’m in a career that’s unexpected, in terms of where I’m from and what I look like, you know, how old I am. So I’ll always feel pressure. I’ll always feel like I’m up against odds that are kind of insurmountable and, ‘Man, if I don’t get this right, I might not ever work in this town again.’ But you kind of got to tune that stuff out.”

Interview Highlights

On travelling to Africa to research the film

For me, it was about this question of “What does it mean to be African?” It was a question I couldn’t answer. When I was taking this project, it was a question I needed to answer about myself, you know, which is the personal connection that I’m talking about. And it’s a question that sounds specific, but it’s actually universal for a lot of reasons. … I mean if you ask yourself, “Now what does it mean to be Ukrainian?” or “What does it mean to be Eurasian?” it’s a deep question, right, if you think about it. It’s not a question you can answer with one word. But it’s a question you can spend your life trying to figure out, and have fun doing it, I truly believe.

On the importance of Black Panther having his own movie

For one, like, this medium of superhero films and this blockbuster medium, it’s just myth-making but on terms that are current. That’s why these movies make a lot money. That’s why people talk about them, you know what I mean, people dress up as them.

Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa in Black Panther.

Matt Kennedy/©Marvel Studios 2018

You look at any society in any period of time, they had their version of how they did their myth-making. Whether it was vaudeville, whether it was plays, whether it was on the plains of Africa … and it was griots, you know, beating the drum and telling stories. That was their version of myth-making. Right now, it’s these big, huge, large-canvas films that you go see in IMAX, that you go see in 3-D.

And there’s a massive audience — not just of people of color but everybody — who wants to see different perspectives in this myth-making. They want to see something fresh, they want to see something new, but also feels very real. You walk around in this world, and you see people who look like me — all the time. I’m from the Bay Area man, where we’ve got a very successful basketball team right now. The Golden State Warriors run out there, run up and down the court, [and] it’s a bunch of black dudes. But everybody in the stadium — even though it’s in Oakland — there’s very few black people in that stadium. But everybody’s wearing they jerseys and experiencing the emotions that they feel. You know, when Steph Curry hits a shot, it’s a little white kid or a little Asian kid in there that feel like they just made the shot.

On the state of representation in entertainment

I mean, there was a time in sports when black people weren’t allowed to play on professional teams, you know what I mean. You go down the line in every sport, there was a time when it was like a crazy idea to let a black person run out there and put a jersey on. You know, it was a time when professional teams would say, “We won’t make any money if we put a black person out there.” You know, it took that one to happen and then they looked around and was like, “Wait, we’re making more money — we gotta do this more. Oh yeah, people will cheer for a person who doesn’t look like them.” I mean, I know I watched superhero movies and did all the time.

The Talon Fighter flies over Wakanda in Black Panther.

©Marvel Studios 2018

On the creation of Wakanda

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, who invented the character and invented Wakanda, they were two Jewish-American artists who were in the States — in New York — and pulling from the things that they were seeing around them to make these stories. I’ve met Stan Lee, and I know that he was tapping into the zeitgeist, purposefully, of what he saw African-Americans and people all over the world going through. He kind of came up with this pulpy concept, and … when you really think about it, man, it is something that’s based on circumstance. Like it’s fiction, that has base in reality. Africa’s a continent that’s known for its resources, you know. It’s very rich in terms of any kind of resource that you can get out of the ground that has value. You’re going to find it in abundance somewhere on that continent, whether it’s oil, whether it’s rubber, whether it’s gems or precious metals.

It led to colonization and exploitation. It led to borders being drawn, not by the people who are from there, you know. And it led to the mental horrors of colonization, which comes with being told that you’re less than, and not worthy of, and losing your language — losing your heritage, and the cousin of colonization, which is a very scary relative of it, is the theft of bodies, is what happened to my ancestors.

That said, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, they were aware of all these things. And they tapped into something when they said “Man, what if that never happened to a place? What if a place had something really cool, had a cool mineral, you know, had a coltan, had a gold, had a diamond and they never were conquered and they found a way to manipulate it, and stay separate from the world and grow and become great?” And … found a way to maintain that, what kind of conflict would that bring about? You know, it was Afro-futurism. It was all these great things that amazing writers have built on, and built on, and built on, in the 60 years since they did that.

L to R: Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) in Black Panther.

©Marvel Studios 2018

On filming Black Panther from the perspective of Wakandans

I think perspective is everything — perspective and proximity to whose story you’re watching, it’s one of the gifts that cinema has. Like for me, I never left the country until I made a film that got into a festival that was outside the country. How I used to travel was through watching movies, and I like the movies that put me right on the ground. I like City Of God, I like Un Propheteyou know, these films that put you like right in the zone. You’re experiencing it with the people who it’s about.

On whether he feels like he can go back to making smaller, indie films after Black Panther

Yeah, I mean I think intimacy can be achieved in a film on any budget. I feel, personally, like I have some of my most intimate scenes I’ve ever made in this movie. You know, I just want to make films that resonate with me, that are interesting to me, that deal with themes that I’m passionate about.

Like, I mean this movie brought me closer to my roots. This movie took me to the continent of Africa, which is somewhere I wanted to go since my mom and dad sat me down and told me I was black, you know what I mean? So I hope to make movies that’ll challenge me as an artist and as a person. That’s really what I hope to do.

19 Women Says Trump Sexually Assaulted Them.

Lurking in the background of the roiling debate about harassment and assault in American society are the allegations made against President Trump by at least 19 women, many of whom came forward after the release of the Access Hollywood tape in October 2016. Trump vociferously denies any wrongdoing. “Is the official White House position that all of these women are lying?” a reporter asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, in late October. “Yeah, we’ve been clear on that from the beginning, and the president’s spoken on it,” Sanders replied.

Some of the women’s stories date back to the 1980s when Trump’s personal relationships were fixtures of the New York City tabloids; others begin after he returned to the public eye with his NBC series The Apprentice. Their accounts describe a wide range of alleged behavior, including lewd remarks, overt harassment, groping, and sexual assault. One woman, Summer Zervos, is currently suing the president for defamation after he repeatedly called her and the others liars. What follows are details from each accuser—listed alphabetically—and the president’s corresponding defense.

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Democrats Introduce Articles Of Impeachment Against Trump aka #45

House Democrats introduced articles of impeachment Wednesday against President Donald Trump, though they acknowledged their efforts have no chance of success while Republicans control both houses of Congress.

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee, introduced five articles of impeachment that include obstruction of justice for Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey, two emoluments clause violations, undermining the independence of the federal judiciary and undermining the freedom of the press.

“The time has come to make clear to the American people and to this President that his train of injuries to our Constitution must be brought to an end through impeachment,” he said.

Cohen, the ranking member on the House judiciary committee’s Constitution subcommittee, acknowledged the limitations of his proposal.

“I don’t expect the House judiciary committee, which is operated like a branch of the administration, to take up hearings,” he said.

He told members of the press he would likely be facilitating briefings in lieu of hearings.

“There are many reasons why I think the President is an awful President, an awful person, but not all those reasons rise to the level of impeaching a sitting President. We are not seeking his impeachment because of what he did before he was President,” Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Illinois, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said beside Cohen.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders responded in a statement, saying time spent calling for Trump’s impeachment “would be better spent focusing on tax relief for American families and businesses.”

“It’s disappointing that extremists in Congress still refuse to accept the President’s decisive victory in last year’s election,” she said.

Michael Ahrens, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, called the impeachment effort “radical.”

“House Democrats lack a positive message and are completely unwilling to work across the aisle, so instead they’ve decided to support a baseless radical effort that the vast majority of Americans disagree with,” he said.

This isn’t the first time Democrats have argued to impeach Trump. Earlier this month, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, said the President has committed “significant constitutional impeachable violations,” adding that Democrats needed to act.

Bring Your “A” Game Sports Talk 11/13

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Colin Kaepernick named Man of the Year by GQ Magazine.

GQ Magazine named its “men of the year” this morning, with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick receiving the honor of Citizen of the Year.

The magazine released the cover featuring the four “new American heroes,” including Kaepernick, late night host Stephen Colbert, NBA star Kevin Durant and actress Gal Gadot.

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Bring Your “A” Game Sports Talk Radio 10/29

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Colin Kaepernick signs $1mill book deal. 

Colin Kaepernick signs $1M book deal.

Colin Kaepernick, the NFL player at the forefront of protests that have swept the league and raised the ire of President Trump, has signed a book deal, Page Six reported.
The deal, reportedly worth just over $1 million, is with One World, an imprint of Random House. Further details on the book were not immediately available.

Kaepernick, who led the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance in 2013 and has been a free agent since March, filed a grievance earlier this month against NFL owners, accusing them of colluding to keep him out of the league in retaliation for his outspoken views on social issues.

Kaepernick was the first NFL player to take a knee during the national anthem before games during the 2016 season. Kaepernick said he was protesting police brutality and racial injustice, and pledged to donate $1 million to charitable causes.


Players across the league began taking part in demonstrations during the national anthem, with some taking a knee, some raising a fist and others linking arms.

The issue of players protesting was thrust back into the spotlight when Trump in September suggested owners should fire players for taking a knee. He has since repeatedly called the demonstrations disrespectful, and last Sunday lamented the league has shown “no leadership” in allowing players to continue protesting.