In the ’90s, Wesley Snipes became the first African American superhero in a Marvel Comics movie when he took on the role of Blade.
However, that wasn’t his first choice and he almost took on the role of T’Challa, the Black Panther, years before most non-comic book fans knew who that was.
In a recent interview with Collider, Snipes talks about almost landing the role of Black Panther and why the movie never happened.
Wesley Snipes was almost Black Panther
Snipes said there were three different versions of the Black Panther script and he was attached to star as King T’Challa.
However, at that time, the only Marvel movies were low-budget affairs like Matt Sallinger’s Captain America and the unreleased 1994 Fantastic Four movie by producer Roger Corman.
The most successful Marvel movies at that time was Howard the Duck and Dolph Lundgren’s The Punisher.
“We had three scripts, three versions of scripts written when we held the rights to Black Panther. That was in the early ’90s. Maybe ’92, ’93, ’94, in that area somewhere. We didn’t have the technology we have now,” Snipes said.
He also said that no one took comic books seriously at that time and most people didn’t connect Black Panther with the iconic superhero but with the national revolutionaries.
“Even the thought of the name ‘Black Panther’ in the zeitgeist of Hollywood had a reference to the national revolutionary group versus the comic book,” Snipes said. “So it was hard to make. Long story long, we didn’t end up making it, the rights went back, converted back.”
It was a movie that Snipes wanted to see get made because he said he was tired of America’s views of Africans being of poor malnourished people.
It was something he loved about Coming to America when it came out.
“[Coming to America] was one of the first films, American-made, Western films that showed African people and the African experience, and I mean the African diasporic experience in its glory,” Snipes said.
“I mean with robes and jewels, and opulence and you know, wealth, and not the starving children in living in the sewers and the gutters.”
Wesley Snipes moved on to Blade
While Wesley Snipes didn’t get to play Black Panther, he was still Marvel’s first Black superhero on the big screen in Blade.
Before this, the only Black superheroes were in comedies like Damon Wayans’ Blank Man or the DC Comics flop Steel with Shaquille O’Neal. The only successful movie was Spawn in 1997.
In 1998, that all changed with Wesley Snipes in Blade.
“The irony of the whole thing is that when I chose to do the film, the first Blade, most of the representation I had at the time suggested I shouldn’t do it,” Snipes said. “[They] were absolutely against me taking on the role. And now look what it turned out to be. Who knew?”