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'Black Panther's' Hudlin Keeps it (Comic) Real
New York — Reggie Hudlin reassures fans of Marvel Comics’ “Black Panther” that the animated TV show on BET will be “exactly the comic book.”
Hudlin, the former entertainment president at BET, is writing and executive producing The Black Panther, headed to BET this summer (eight episodes). He and other show principals, including BET’s SVP of animation Denys Cowan, showed a clip at Comic Con at the Javits convention center and eagerly talked up the voices in the cast, including Djimoun Hounsou (the Blood Diamond co-star), Kerry Washington (who played Alicia Masters in The Fantastic Four) and Alfre Woodard, who voices two characters.
The clip — not yet available online; Hudlin asked audience members not to videotape it as it’s not ready for the Internet’s “frame by frame scrutiny” — had a true comic-book feel but packed an emotional punch, as superhero Black Panther, who’s also an African king, stands down a brigade of heavily armed men who look like Confederate Army raiders, complete with Gatling gun.
Audience members cheered but the first question for Hudlin, from an African-American sitting up front, was: “I’m excited definitely by what we just saw but I still have to ask the question: How true to the comic book is the TV series going to be?”
“It’s exactly the comic book,” replied Hudlin, an admitted comic-book “fanboy” who for several years actually has been writing Black Panther comics for Marvel. “Everything that is in the comic book is going to be in the series — and if anything we’re going to expand.”
A Black Panther vs. Captain America fight that was a double spread in the comic, for example, will become “a big elaborate action set piece” in the series. The series will be the comic’s first story arc, he said, “everything in the ‘Who is the Black Panther’ trade paperback.”
“Everyone keeps going — are you really?” he said, about fans skeptical he won’t have to somehow change the essence of the comic. “It’s me! I was the executive, I hired myself, I’m writing and executive producing the show. Everyone’s like, but conspiracy must begin at some point. No! The game’s fixed on our side — it’s like Obama.”
There were questions about what might come next for the franchise — including either an animated or live-action film. The latter apparently has been discussed for years, including by Wesley Snipes and John Singleton.
Panelists including Marvel executive editor Axel Alonso and Marvel animation chief Eric Rollman endorsed Hudlin to be involved in such a project, if it happens. Rollman kept encouraging fans to watch and support the show when it comes out. He pointed out that an animated series of The X-Men in the early 1990s raised the profile of a relatively unknown comic franchise enough so that much success followed, including live-action movies that have earned more than $1 billion.
Said Cowans: “Kerry Washington and Djimoun don’t do TV. They’re doing it for Reggie, and they’re doing it for Black Panther.”
At the end of the session, audience members were given a “variant edition” comic book of the new Marvel Black Panther — who’s a female – series and Hudlin was slated to sign books later in the day.
As an aside, after the Hudlin session ended around noon, the crowds outside the panels at Comic Con became completely insane. I hope to attend a Torchwood panel later but if I don’t that’s why.
Update: I attended the Torchwood panel and will be posting on it later. Let’s just say I left it more excited about the 5-episode third-season event — probably this summer — than I was going in.