Marvel is courting "Selma" filmmaker Ava DuVernay to direct one of its diverse superhero movies, which include "Black Panther" and "Captain Marvel," multiple individuals with knowledge of the situation have told TheWrap. Insiders suggest that "Black Panther," due first in July 2018, is the most likely possibility.
Marvel has had discussions with DuVernay about taking the reins of one of its marquee comic book properties and while the studio is considering other directors, there is mutual interest in having her join the MCU.
Marvel's courtship surfaces on the same day that the American Civil Liberties Union asked state and federal agencies to investigate Hollywood's hiring practices at major studios, networks and talent agencies. The ACLU has alleged rampant and intentional gender discrimination in recruiting and hiring female directors.
A woman has never directed a Marvel movie, though the company did hire Patty Jenkins to direct "Thor: The Dark World." Following creative differences, she was eventually replaced by Alan Taylor. Jenkins recently replaced Michelle MacLaren as the director of "Wonder Woman" at Warner Bros., which has been eager to beat Marvel to the proverbial punch when it comes to diversity within its comic book movie universe.
Insiders told TheWrap that Marvel is intent on hiring an African-American director for "Black Panther" and a female filmmaker for "Captain Marvel." DuVernay's hiring would make her Marvel's first African-American and first female director, which would no doubt double as a public relations boon for the company.
"Black Panther" is set to star Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa, the prince of Wakanda who must take over his father's throne and avenge his death. "Captain Marvel" follows a woman named Carol Danvers who receives powers after encountering an alien from the Kree Empire. Slated for release on Nov. 2, 2018, the film is Marvel's first female-driven superhero movie, and will be written by Nicole Perlman ("Guardians of the Galaxy") and Meg LeFauve ("Inside Out").
DuVernay actually has experience with comic book movies... sort of. Back in her publicist days, she did "promotional services" for Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man 2," which inexplicably remains her top credit on IMDb Pro despite the fact that "Selma," which she directed, was Oscar-nominated for Best Picture and won a slew of other awards from critics and guilds.
There was outrage throughout Hollywood when DuVernay failed to receive a Best Director nomination from the Academy, and she has been in high demand ever since the world premiere of "Selma" moved its audience to tears. DuVernay is developing a TV series for Oprah Winfrey's OWN network based on the book "Queen Sugar" and recently wrapped CBS' civil rights drama pilot "For Justice." She has also set up an untitled Hurricane Katrina movie at Participant Media that will star her fellow producer David Oyelowo.
DuVernay made her directorial debut with the 2008 documentary "This Is the Life" before moving on to narrative filmmaking with the 2010 indie drama "I Will Follow." Her breakout film was 2012's "Middle of Nowhere," after which she was hired to direct the Martin Luther King Jr. movie "Selma" for Paramount, Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Films and Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment.
DuVernay, who is represented by Paradigm, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.