If Morris Chestnut isn’t involved in an unrevealed cinematic Black Panther project, then he certainly wants people to think he is.
Morris Chestnut is one of those Hollywood actors who’s undeniably talented but hasn’t become a household name. Blame latent racism if you’d like, but that’s beside the point. The dude was great in Boyz N The Hood, and that’s why it’s so exciting to see Chestnut tapped for the lead role in a film adaptation of Marvel Comics’ Black Panther character.
But wait, that movie doesn’t exist, and Chestnut hasn’t been offered the role of Black Panther, right? Officially no, but rumors have long been swirling that Black Panther is among the next group of Marvel superheroes to receive the silver screen treatment, alongside other lesser-known characters like Ant-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy (both of which have films currently in production). When you combine these rumors with recent tweets published by Chestnut, things start to look interesting.
“It’s time to get familiar with the Black Panther character!” Chestnut wrote alongside an image of a Black Panther comic book. Later Chestnut would clarify his tweet with another. “Not final. #BlackPanther may be in #avengers2 first. RT @jamaal91604133: @morris_chestnut Can’t wait to see this movie. #BlackPanther,” he wrote in the pidgin Twitter-speak we’re all too familiar with.
There’s a lot to digest there, so let’s go point by point. First, Chestnut publicly points out that he’s reading up on Black Panther’s history amid increasingly intense rumors that he’ll be playing the character. Second, he states that his involvement isn’t final, indicating that there is a film project and that Chestnut is at least in discussions regarding a/the role. Third, he states that Black Panther may be in The Avengers 2, which could be speculation on his part, but seems unexpectedly knowledgeable for someone who isn’t involved with Marvel Studios’ plans for the character. While we caution you to take this with a grain of salt, it certainly seems as if Chestnut either has the role, is in talks for the role, or just really wants all of us to believe that one of the prior two options are legit.
Like we said, Chestnut was great in Boyz N The Hood, and we don’t doubt his ability to properly portray the African king cum superhero that is the Black Panther. Chestnut also has a great look for the character that’s equal parts athletic, attractive and almost royally regal. Our only concern is that T’challa is, as we mentioned, an African king, and thus speaks with an accent from that part of the world. Chestnut, by contrast, is American. If he opts to use the accent on screen, it’s kind of a crap shoot as to how well it will turn out. Still, we’ve got faith in the man.
Oh, and not to court controversy, but we’re desperately hoping for this project to exist and turn out well. A big-budget, highly profitable Marvel Studios superhero flick starring a black man who isn’t an archaic, racist caricature would be a very important moment for Hollywood’s efforts to be more inclusive and progressive. Double points if it’s an awesome superhero flick too.