Speaking with Fandango as he was putting the finishing touches on the 18th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which he also co-wrote), Coogler cited James Bond as one of two major inspirations for him, adding:
"I think similar to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we're definitely influenced by the films of the '70s and influenced by crime fiction."
Coogler then got more specific about which era of 007 he was referring to (there are several, after all), while also mentioning a somewhat more surprising influence as well:
"My favorite film is a film called A Prophet, a French film that was released almost a decade ago now, which seems a bit crazy. Any time I'm making a movie, I'm always leaning on inspiration from that one ... A Prophet deals with secret societies and cultural ties, so that was a big influence (on Black Panther). I also watched a lot of Coppola's work from the '70s. We were looking at all of that stuff and also watched a lot of the James Bond films, but not the new ones. I wanted to watch the ones that were made in the '60s and '70s."
A Prophet, released in 2009, is a French prison drama about a small-time Algerian criminal who ends up in jail and rises through the ranks to become a crime lord both inside the prison and outside its walls (it's excellent, by the way). It's a clever and almost seamless mix of crime genre entertainment and social commentary, making it an interesting pick as an influence on Black Panther, which Coogler described as a "bit of an espionage thriller" combined with a "family drama."
Coogler also touched on the announcement, made shortly before his interview, that Kendrick Lamar would be producing and curating a soundtrack album of original music for the movie -- a first for a Marvel project. The director said that he first conceived of the LP:
"Yeah, it was initially my idea, but hats off to the Disney marketing team and the music team here for being completely open to it. I think that I was fortunate that I had a relationship with Top (Dawg) and Kendrick before signing on to do this film, but it was working with doing something that I really thought would be right for this project, specifically, and also happy that Disney was open to it and Marvel was open to it and seemed supportive of the idea. I can't wait for the world to hear some of the art that they've been working on. I think that folks will be really excited to hear that stuff, man."
There is a lot to be excited about regarding Black Panther: Coogler is a hot director coming off the acclaimed Creed; from the trailers, the movie looks like no other Marvel film that has come before it; and with a nearly all-black cast stocked with incredible actors and actresses, it represents the opening of a new chapter for the studio in terms of cultural exploration, diversity, and inclusion in its movies.
Black Panther, starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis, is out in theaters Feb. 16.