Rumor: Is Djimon Hounsou The Black Panther?
Comic book movie news never stops flowing in Hollywood. Yesterday, IESB was in attendance at the press junket for Never Back Down, in which Djimon Hounsou stars. Hounsou said that he has signed on to star in a comic book trilogy, which he calls "his dream project." The only problem - he wouldn't say what it was, which means plenty of speculation, discussion, and rumoring will now begin. The most popular rumor circulating the web after he made that announcement: Black Panther, but it could also be Luke Cage or even Spielberg's Tintin. Details on each of the prospective projects below.
The reason why Black Panther seems like the most logical choice is because Tim Story, who directed the two Fantastic Four movies, has mentioned Hounsou as his favorite choice for Panther. In an interview with IGN back in May of 2007 before Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer had hit theaters, Story told them that the Black Panther was one of the characters he was interested in bringing into the series.
"I've got to tell you, to get the Fantastic Four and turn it into a franchise, the first thing I thought was, 'Will I get the Silver Surfer'? Or someone like Black Panther, who was introduced in their book, get Djimon Hounsou and go do it?' But there are so many other great villains and stories - I feel like I hit the jackpot."
Back in February of 2007, Marvel's President of Production Kevin Feige said that "Captain America and Thor and Black Panther and The Avengers are all on our development slate right now." (via SuperheroFlix.com) In addition, Shaft director John Singleton said in July of 2007 that he was "approached about doing Black Panther", but has also had a Luke Cage adaptation in the works, too, saying that it's a "race to see if I'm going to do Luke Cage first or Black Panther." (via blackfilm.com) And on top of that, back in August we reported a rumor that Chiwetel Ejiofor was going to be cast as the Black Panther in Singleton's adaptation.
Black Panther was a superhero who first appeared in Marvel's Fantastic Four Vol. 1, #52 in 1966. He was the first prominent black superhero in comic history and the first to get his own comic book. The title "Black Panther" is a rank of chieftain of the Wakandan Panther Clan. As chieftain, the Panther is entitled to eat a special heart-shaped herb, as well as his mystical connection with the Wakandan Panther God, that grants him superhumanly acute senses (especially eyesight, night vision, and sense of smell) and increases his strength, speed, stamina, and agility to the peak of human development. He is a genius in physics and advanced technology, and is a brilliant inventor. His senses are so powerful that he can pick up a prey's scent and memorize tens of thousands of individual ones.
Whether Black Panther is the role that Hounsou has signed on for, at least he's confirmed and not just "still in talks". When it does get revealed we'll at least know this trilogy of films is moving forward. Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson's Tintin project is another trilogy of films that Hounsou could be talking about. But I just don't see a project where he's being filmed with motion capture and not even playing a live character something that he would describe as a "dream project." In the same vein, I wouldn't even describe Tintin as a "comic book movie", which is what Hounsou said he was signed on for. But for the sake of covering all our bases, it's yet another one to mention.
Ever since Djimon co-starred alongside of Russell Crowe in Gladiator, I've been quite fond of him. Like Chiwetel Ejiofor (who also has a funky name and was rumored to play Black Panther), he's incredibly underrated and very talented but still has been unable to showcase his true talents in a lead role. I hope this is his big break, not only because he deserves it as an actor, but because it would be awesome to see the Black Panther appear in a trilogy of movies. I only hope that this doesn't mean Fantastic Four is going to continue for three more films! We'll keep you updated once his real role is revealed.
What do you think? Would a Black Panther movie with Djimon Hounsou be awesome?