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By Brian Harris, Staff Writer
After immense fan outcry and demand, Marvel Studios has announced a companion to their hit film Black Panther, White Panther.
A critical, and indeed a cultural success, Marvel’s Black Panther film was always going to get some kind of follow up or sequel. But Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige hopes today’s announcement is not only a surprise to many, but a welcome one. “It’s kind of unexpected, its kind of crazy,” says Feige, who has spearheaded all the Marvel Studios’ filmography, “its easily the craziest thing we’ve done, and we’ve had films about norse gods in spaceships talking to Jeff Goldblum.”
I had a chance to speak to Feige about, well, just about the why of this most recent endeavor for the studio. “Well, I don’t think I’ll be the first person to tell you that Black Panther was a hit,” Feige recalled, “I remember watching us pass Avengers’ box office domestically [for Black Panther] and just thinking, like, wow we really have something here. So, it just made sense, to go on google and see what other kinds of panthers are out there, and when we saw that white panthers were an actual thing we just kind of had to jump on it.”
Many “Marvel Cinematic Universe” fans will probably be shocked to discover that this will be the first wholly original lead character created exclusively for the films, something Feige assured us would not be apparent. “Our goal is for him to fit right in, you have all of these incredible, legendary characters like Spider-Man, Black Panther, Captain America, Iron Man; so, you don’t want someone to stick out as feeling out of place. And believe me, our white guy in a Black Panther outfit definitely won’t.”
But of course, the Black Panther film isn’t just a brilliant adaptation of a beloved comic book character, but a film littered with smart racial commentary that broke past some long-held Hollywood boundaries as far as casting is concerned. And so, I asked Feige how White Panther would continue its predecessor’s advances, if at all. “Of course, it will,” he assured us, “we’ve designed this character around this, I don’t see why this can’t be as big or an even bigger cultural movement than Black Panther was. I think we can all agree that what Hollywood needs right now is a multi-million-dollar blockbuster with an all-white cast, and that’s exactly what we’re attempting with White Panther.”
Finally, I concluded my talk with Mr. Feige asking what exactly we can expect, plot or character wise, from this newest Marvel installment. Although the studio is notoriously tight lipped about these sorts of things, he was able to spill a couple of beans for us. “It’s really a personal story, one of the most personal of our films. I think I can tell you our hero’s name here, Scott Smith, and that by day he’s a professional golfer and millionaire. But by night, he’s the White Panther, patrolling the mean streets of Portland, Oregon, stopping crime and protecting his fellow citizens. And, well, that’s about all I’m allowed to tell you, but rest assured, like all our other films, you’re in for a good time at the movies.”
When informed of the film’s announcement, Marvel legend and Black Panther co-creator Stan Lee jumped out the nearest window to his death. It’s a shame, too, because he won’t be able to check out White Panther coming to theaters next year.