From the inception of its production, it seemed like there was no limit on what Black Panther and director Ryan Coogler could do. An all-star cast including Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, and more? Check. A soundtrack produced by rap label powerhouse TDE, that prominently features hip hop’s innovative force of nature, a.k.a. Kendrick Lamar? Check. Set all-time advance ticket sales and be projected to establish a new opening weekend sales record for a superhero movie? Check.
With all the movie has already accomplished, it’s almost surprising any ideas might be left on the cutting room floor. Yet Coogler revealed to CinemaBlend this week that there was one superhero he wanted to introduce into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but couldn’t fit him in. Who might that be? Patriot, otherwise known as Elijah Bradley.
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“Crazy enough, for comic book fans, we toyed with the character Patriot for a little bit,” Coogler told CinemaBlend. “Early on we were interested to get our hands on him, Joe [Robert Cole] and I, but that ended up going away so we could focus on Wakanda a little more.”
Those who aren’t readers of modern Captain America comic books might not know Patriot and his compelling backstory. Allow CinemaBlend to fill you in.
For those unfamiliar with the character, Patriot was first created by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung for the 2005 series Young Avengers, and was introduced as the descendent of Isaiah Bradley—one of only a few soldiers to survive horrific super soldier experiments during World War II (a Marvel parallel to the real-life Tuskegee experiments). He’s a great character with many fantastic twists in his arc, but he also has zero association with Wakanda or Black Panther, which explains why Ryan Coogler ultimately decided not to include him in the Black Panther movie.
Comic books are notorious for shoehorning a popular or lovable character into a narrative arc they have no business being in. This is, in some way, the entire strategy of Marvel’s major comic book events like Civil War and others, which heavily entices fans, but often limits the storytelling quality.
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So credit for Coogler for demonstrating that restraint. It’s also worth noting that every other notable character in Black Panther was there since the beginning.
“The ones that you see were kind of always there. M’Baku, Killmonger, T’Challa, Nakia, Okoye, Shuri, Ramonda, Klaue, Everett Ross… they were always in every draft,” Coogler said. “So we had to make sure that they all had arcs, and it had something to do with that.”