After months of speculation, Marvel's Black Panther may finally have its director: Ava DuVernay, the auteur who is best known for helming Selma last year. If this news is true, DuVernay will be the first woman and the first Black person to direct a Marvel movie. These films are box office goliaths, so any information about their production or development is bound to get people excited. But even those who aren't huge comic book fans can still feel good about this announcement, which symbolizes a greater inclusion of women and people of color behind the camera, particularly on projects of this magnitude.
DuVernay's name has been mentioned in connection to Black Panther numerous times, but nothing was confirmed until June 22, when the website MCUExchange claimed to have an exclusive tip that she will indeed be directing the film. Not only does DuVernay's addition to the crew make Black Panther the most diverse Marvel film behind the scenes, but on-screen as well. Black Panther, who first appeared in comics in 1966, was the first mainstream black superhero ever created. The character will first appear in Captain America: Civil War (out May 6, 2016), before getting his own spin-off (opening July 6, 2018). He'll be played by Chadwick Boseman (42, Get On Up).
DuVernay's presence makes us hopeful that, finally, the film industry is opening up to more diverse points of view behind the camera. For years, people both within and outside Hollywood have been pointing out the lack of diversity on set, and in May, the American Civil Liberties Union even launched an official investigation into sexist Hollywood hiring practices. According to Variety, women made up only seven percent of directors in 2014, as well as 23 percent of producers, 19 percent of executive producers, 18 percent of editors, 11 percent of writers and 5 percent of cinematographers who contributed to films that year. The number of women working in film crews has actually declined since 1998.
So, although we're still three long years away from actually seeing Black Panther, we're already very excited for this particular Marvel flick.