During a panel at New York City's recent BlogHer conference, Selma director Ava DuVernay discussed talks she had with Marvel, which led her to turn down the position of directing the upcoming Black Panther film.
In the panel, DuVernay spoke about being a minority in the Hollywood community and offered advice to other women trying to make it in the industry. DuVernay's comments about potentially working with Marvel were illuminative, shedding light on a key problem with Marvel films: they tend to be less about the director's vision, and more about the company's overall vision for its brand.
Although initial rumors had DuVernay already on board the project, she stated that she had never agreed to direct Black Panther, going on to explain why she turned it down.
"For me, it was a process of trying to figure out, 'are these people I want to go to bed with?'" DuVernay told the crowd of female bloggers, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. "Because it's really a marriage, and for this, it would be three years. It'd be three years of not doing other things that are important to me. So it was a question of, 'is this important enough for me to do?'"
DuVernay nevertheless recognized the significance of this being the first Marvel Studios film with a black superhero as its star (Chadwick Boseman). At first, she thought she might accept the position after discussions with Marvel head Kevin Feige. The offer seemed like a good fit — particularly given the subject matter and the impact Marvel films have around the world. However, DuVernay said, what she attaches her name to as a director should ultimately be hers — and she did not feel this would be the case with Marvel.
"This is my art," she said. "This is what will live on after I'm gone. So it's important to me that I be true to who I was in this moment. And if there's too much compromise, it really wasn't going to be an Ava DuVernay film."
She currently has a number of other projects that are indeed Ava DuVernay works: a series on Oprah's OWN network called Queen Sugar and a CBS pilot for a series called For Justice, a drama about civil rights that will take advantage of virtual reality technology.