Black Panther’s Ryan Coogler Was Convinced Marvel Was Firing Him For An Unexpected Reason

Ryan Coogler says he was convinced he would be fired from 2018's Black Panther, because production was "falling behind."

By Michileen Martin | Published

With 2018’s Black Panther proving to be an unquestionable commercial and critical triumph, it’s almost unthinkable to consider that Ryan Coogler could’ve been fired before filming was through, but that’s exactly what the filmmaker was convinced would happen. In a recent interview with Yahoo! Entertainment’s Kevin Polowy, the Creed director admitted he was “convinced” Marvel was going to fire him because “we were falling behind.” Seven Oscar nominations including for Best Picture, three Oscar wins, and $1.4 billion later; it’s pretty clear the mistake Kevin Feige would’ve made if he was even considering giving Coogler his walking papers.

Ryan Coogler, who has more recently helmed the long-awaited sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, confessed to the fear while talking about the late Chadwick Boseman. “[Boseman] was the only one who knew what it was gonna be while we were making it,” Coogler said. “And he would say that to me. I was convinced I was gonna get fired on that movie, ’cause we were falling behind.”

It was producer Nate Moore, who produced both Black Panther and its sequel–along with other Marvel projects like Eternals and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier–who assured Ryan Coogler there was no way he was getting the axe. “He was like, ‘Bro, man, you like killin’ it, man. Nobody’s firing you, I’m not gonna let that happen,'” Coogler said.

Ryan Coogler shared that Moore was a great source of validation and reassurance during the making of Black Panther. He described the producer visiting the set and comparing the film to another sci-fi mega-hit.

Coogler recalled Moore’s words: “‘Yo, nobody’s gonna believe this. Nobody’s gonna be ready for this. This is Star Wars.’”

black panther ryan coogler
Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War (2016)

While Boseman’s character T’Challa was introduced to the MCU two years earlier in the ensemble event film Captain America: Civil War, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther not only sold over $200,000 more in tickets, but became a cultural phenomenon. It became the first, and so far the only, Marvel superhero movie to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and it made Chadwick Boseman a household name.

When Boseman died from colon cancer in 2020–a condition of which the public and most of his colleagues were unaware–it devastated Ryan Coogler, the cast and crew of Black Panther, and fans all over the world. Boseman’s final live-action appearance as T’Challa was in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, but fans got to hear him posthumously in a number of episodes of Disney+’s animated series What If…?

Ryan Coogler’s sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, had its wide theatrical release last week and is currently in theaters. Most of the surviving lead cast of the first film reprises their roles and Tenoch Huerta is introduced as the undersea monarch Namor.