Appearing at a SXSW panel over the weekend, “Black Panther” co-writer Joe Robert Cole spoke about the Marvel Cinematic Universe and how, if “Iron Man” was released today, it probably wouldn’t work as it did back then due to the change of politics and cultural attitudes.
Tony Stark is, after all, an alcoholic womanizing, billionaire arms manufacturer – the kind of guy who is the last person one would root for. The casting of Robert Downey Jr. in the role managed to smooth over some of the initial douchieness of the character until he goes through his redemptive story arc which imbues him with a level of humility. Speaking at the panel (via Indie Wire), Cole says:
“Think about where we are now, with this very vapid, unintelligent president and our world is crackling on the edges because of that. Think back to Tony Stark, him being douchey and being okay. If that character, Stark, was created in a movie today, I wonder if the response would be like, ‘Oh, it’s cool that he’s douchey and disrespectful to women … That’s fine.’ I think we’re at a different place. I think it’s a better place.”
The comments come as Quartz reports that “Black Panther” opened in China this past weekend and reviews of it on the Chinese equivalent of the IMDb suggested there’s still plenty of progress to be made in other countries with comments having issues not just with the cast’s skin color but the film’s overall lack of bright colors: “Black Panther is black, all the major characters are black, a lot of scenes are black, the car-chasing scene is black—the blackness has really made me drowsy.” Another added: “When I entered the theater, a bunch of black people was fighting in the night… I’ve never been in a theater so dark that I couldn’t find my seat.”