If 2017 was a year when it felt like the talent and vision of people of color was finally being recognized by the entertainment industry in a concrete—if still woefully incomplete—way, 2018 seems like it will give us films that build on that momentum.
Next year, we are not only getting Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, the first black-led film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but we’re also getting Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time, which is giving us science fiction through a perspective we hardly see in mainstream sci-fi flicks.
Coogler and DuVernay sat down with Vulture back in November for Vulture Fest to discuss their respective films and how they brought their own style and vision to their projects. (The transcript was published today.) It’s clear that both directors have taken on an enormous responsibility, not only in terms of budget, but in terms of contributing to and perhaps defining how black people and other people of color are represented, particularly when it comes to the fantastical.
DuVernay on her connection with Meg Murray, the lead character of A Wrinkle in Time:
With Meg, the opportunity to explore some real black girl magic onscreen … I’m not mad at that, you know? Something I think both of our films do is challenge the idea of who gets to be the hero. In Wrinkle in Time, literally this girl of color saves the universe — not just the world, multiple planets and galaxies. I mean, that’s such a radical idea as a woman of color, as anyone who’s outside the industry contract of who’s usually put forth as the hero in cinema. To deconstruct that, to unpack that, is really what attracted me to it.
Coogler on the incredible fashion and costumes in Black Panther and their connection to African identity:
The big question for everybody — for myself, for Marvel, for Ruth [Carter, costume designer]— was, “What does it mean to be African?” We looked to the continent for clothes and colors and patterns. It was a collaboration between all of us to tell the story through what these characters put on, and when they change their costumes, what is that saying about their journey in the film? But yeah, we looked to the continent for what the Dora Milaje would wear, we looked at Afrofuturist works, and we found that in African culture, clothing has multiple functions. A shirt is not just a shirt: It tells a story, it’s got a design that speaks to what your rank is in your tribe and what your family has done, and it also might serve as a form of protection from weather or battle.
DuVernay on creating different planets and galaxies in Wrinkle in Time:
I just attacked it planet by planet, and I’m excited to share a sci-fi vision through the lens of a black woman, because so often when we’re watching sci-fi films, it’s through one specific lens: A white male lens, predominantly, for decades and decades and decades. It’s not that mine will be radically different, but there might be a softness to it or an edge to it or a color change to it that we’ve not seen. The bottom line is that we don’t know until we see it, so why not see it?
You can check out the full interview at Vulture.