For months, rumors swirled about Ava DuVernay potentially being on board to direct Marvel’s Black Panther — the first Marvel superhero movie to star a black character. And although DuVernay ultimately passed on the gig, she’s been open about her reasons for her decision.

During the recent 2015 BlogHer conference in New York, DuVernay delivered the closing keynote where she shared advice about how to get ahead in the industry when you’re a minority. Unsurprisingly, the conversation about her Marvel meetings came up and DuVernay went into detail about why she decided to not take the project.

“For me, it was a process of trying to figure out, are these people I want to go to bed with? Because it’s really a marriage, and for this it would be three years,” DuVernay said of the intense commitment Marvel films tend to put on their creative teams. “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?”

And while she was intrigued by the cultural impact the film would have, especially with a black superhero at the helm, she also went on to explain that “everyone is interested in different things.”

These kinds of talks aren’t uncommon — Alan Taylor recently shared his frustration about working with a big studio like Marvel, and DuVernay has openly admitted that the film she would have wanted to make would have been different than what the studio wanted. But for DuVernay, the most important thing was being able to stay true to the work she wanted to create (she also said she plans to see Black Panther when it’s released).

“This is my art. This is what will live on after I’m gone,” she said. “So it’s important to me that that 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.”

Black Panther
Directed by Ryan Coogler, the 2018 superhero film is based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name and stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, the king who rules over the Afrofuturist paradise of Wakanda.
  • Movie
  • 135 minutes
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