REVEALED: Tensions on Set of ‘Black Panther’ Because of Marvel’s Unofficial Affirmative Action Policy

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By Robert Gold | 4:48 pm, June 13, 2017
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Ever since Iron Man steamrolled into movie theaters in 2008,  Marvel’s comic superpower trip has been unstoppable.

The exploits of Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark,  Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers and Thor forever altered the cinematic landscape with the Marvel cinematic universe raking in over $11 billion worldwide. Certain comic book movies have proved more problematic than others—Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 for instance—but Marvel, which is now owned by Disney, evidently hasn’t done much wrong during the last decade.

One of the most intriguing upcoming Marvel movies is Black Panther, due for release next February which stars Chadwick Boseman in the title role- also known as T’Challa- the ruler of the African nation of Wakanda who must defend it from hostile invaders.

The trailer for the movie directed by Creed filmmaker Ryan Coogler and based on the Marvel character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby,  has just dropped.

The reception to the trailer was broadly positive with 89 million views in its first 24 hours. (Although some on social media obviously not too familiar with Wakanda, complained about the lack of white people in the trailer for Black Panther which also stars Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o and Forest Whitaker.

Marvel has recently nixed two Black Panther spinoffs the World of Wakanda and Black Panther & the Crew, written by best-selling author Ta-Nehisi Coates, indicating a degree of uncertainty over the franchise.

Now Heat Street has been told by a well-placed source at Marvel that an edgy atmosphere existed on set during the filming of Black Panther. The source said, “There was more tension on the set of Black Panther than on any Marvel movie I’ve worked on previously.”

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the antagonism arose from the Black Panther‘s personnel set-up. He said: “The Black Panther cast is predominantly African-American which of course suits the material. But in addition to the performers in the movie, Marvel and Disney also took the decision to ensure there were black staffers high up in every department of the Black Panther crew.

“This affirmative action policy might be fine in theory but unfortunately in practice a  certain level of stress existed between new members of the crew and some Marvel veterans.

“The tension wasn’t ever about race. It was more over decisions relating to the day-to-day filming process and the shooting of action sequences in the movie.”

Coogler hired what the official Marvel press release describes as his “creative brain trust”. This included production designer Hannah Beachler, costume designer Ruth E. Carter and co-writer Joe Robert Cole, all of whom are black.

The source added: “Ryan Coogler really knows what he’s doing and hopefully the movie will turn out great. But things weren’t helped by the fact that Chadwick Boseman kept behaving like a difficult star throughout shooting and was far more demanding and exacting in how he behaved to the crew than previous Marvel leading men. ”

Of course none of this will matter if the movie continues Marvel’s commercial juggernaut. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 opened with a $146 million opening weekend.

Black Panther will be hoping to at least match that amount and hopefully a calmer atmosphere will exist on the set of the sequel.