'Black Panther' Back in Development at Marvel

Black Panther - art - 2011
Marvel Comics

Black Panther is back in development at Marvel Studios.

The company has hired Mark Bailey, who hails from the documentary film world, to pen a take on the character, the king of a resource-rich fictional African country who becomes a super hero. Marvel's Kevin Feige is producing.

The Black Panther first appeared in the pages of the Fantastic Four comic in 1966 and is considered the first black hero in mainstream comics. A movie version was in development at Columbia in the early 1990s with Wesley Snipes on board to star in an Indiana Jones-style adventure.

Snipes remained attached to Panther even when the property transferred to Artisan Entertainment, best known for making The Blair Witch Project. At the time it had several Marvel films in development.

Marvel reacquired the rights to Panther in 2005 when it absorbed a host of character licenses from Lionsgate, which bought Artisan in 2003.

On a certain level, Bailey is an odd choice to write an a Black Panther movie. The scribe’s credits include stints as a writer or story editor on hard-hitting HBO documentaries such as Pandemic: Facing AIDS and Ghost of Abu Ghraib. His most recent project, being developed by Chockstone Productions, is a feature adaptation of the non-fiction book The Last of the Tribe: The Epic Quest to Save a Lone Man in the Amazon, to which Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) is attached to direct.

But going against the grain has been a long-standing tradition for Marvel when developing its characters (remember the puzzlement by watchful fans when Alvin Sargent, the writer of Ordinary People, was tapped to write a Spider-Man movie?) and Bailey, repped by CAA, brings realism and grittiness to the project.