American film director and screenwriter Ryan Coogler is the man blazing trails with the world’s most culturally significant superhero film in Marvel Comic Universe history. It just so happens that the Oakland, CA native is a huge Marvel Comics fan and grew up reading and watching superhero commodities. Thanks to Coogler, the world is looking forward, lying in wait, to see the highly “melenated” Marvel cast.


Los Angeles Sentinel: You’ve amassed a great body of work in your 31 years. What do you credit your work ethic to?



Ryan Coogler: I’d say my parents. My parents both have really strong work ethics. Watching them wake up every morning and go get it, it kind of inspired me to be the same way.



LAS: You’ve definitely made it a point to tie Bay Area culture in your films. What is it about Bay Areal culture that you believe the world needs to know about?



RC: I think Bay Area culture is very diverse and it’s a place where we find a way to celebrate each other’s differences, but at the same time we have a culture that everybody feels like they have ownership over. It’s a place where you’re kind of encouraged to be yourself and we know how to come together too.



LAS: “Black Panther” touches on many substantive topics such as economic development and generational wealth. Why was it so important to highlight these aspects in “Black Panther”?


RC: These things you’re talking about, they’re kind of in the comic books that we were adapting. The idea of Wakanda being a place that’s economically self-sufficient, that was in the books, so the film would have been incomplete if we didn’t touch on those things. We also wanted to make the film feel current, make it feel like it’s a part of this world, so it felt right to incorporate a subject matter that feels relevant.


LAS: You’ve experienced a whirlwind of success in the last several years with the release of “Fruitvale Station”, “Creed” and now “Black Panther.” Can you explain the transition from pitching your stories and being rejected early on in your film career, to being in the position you are today?


RC: It was never like people were lining up at the door to work with me. In film school, you pitch a lot of stuff that doesn’t work out, so I would say before I was actively involved in the industry, I spent a long time trying to break in. Even in film school, you get a lot of rejection letters. I got more rejection letters than I got any kind of letter in terms of applying to film festivals, grant programs and development programs.


When I got my first film, I went straight in to making my second film, and after that I went straight in to this, so it was never a situation where I was being courted to do different projects, I still haven’t experienced that yet. I’ve just been fortunate enough to put my head down and keep working on stuff that means a lot to me.


LAS: Having worked with Michael B. Jordan several times in your films, can you touch on both the business relationship and brotherhood you’ve developed with him?


RC: Mike’s a great friend. We have a professional relationship that’s worked well for us. Overtime, you get closer to someone, your family gets closer, but it’s no different from any other industry. When you work with somebody and it works, you want to keep it going. Frankly, Mike’s really talented; he’s really good at what he does. I tell filmmakers, if you have a place for Michael B. Jordan, you’ve got to put him in your movie, he’ll make the film better.


I’ve been fortunate enough to make projects with roles that work for him, roles that were challenging to him, and things that he hadn’t done yet. Quite frankly, we needed him because we were dealing with a superhero movie. Chad’s really strong, so we needed someone who could stand up to his charisma and bring a different energy, so it worked out for us on this.


LAS: What advice do you have for filmmakers looking to write, produce and direct their first feature film?


RC: Make something that is important to you. Make something that’s totally you. You gotta’ make a project as if somebody said it’s the only movie you’ll ever make, it’s the first and last movie you’d ever make. Make sure you make something that you’d be comfortable with.


LAS: How do you envision your legacy for you, your wife and family?


RC: To be honest, I don’t think about it that much. I just got married and with that, I’m starting to think more long term. You try to do what you can to provide for your family, but as far as legacy, I need to start thinking about that more I guess. Right now, I’m just taking one day at a time and trying to make the best play I can make. 


LAS: “Black Panther” is expected to completely shatter box office records. What  are your thoughts about the grounds the film is expected to break financially?


RC: It’s totally outside of my control. We got a great company distributing the film, they’re really smart and this is kind of their zone, so I don’t let myself think about it. I’d probably stress myself out if I did, so I just worry about what I can control, which is making the best film I can make. When it comes time for this stage right now, the press stage and get ready to engage with audiences, I try to give 100% of myself to this and be as honest and present as I can. From there, it’s all up to the universe.

To see exclusive footage from the “Black Panther” press conference, please visit

 All photos are (AP Photo).

Category: Cover Stories