‘It’s only a matter of time’: Black Panther creator foresees a Middle Eastern Marvel hero on the big screen

Updated 19 April 2018
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‘It’s only a matter of time’: Black Panther creator foresees a Middle Eastern Marvel hero on the big screen

  • Stan Lee co-created Black Panther with Jack Kirby in 1966
  • He saw a need for a black superhero in comic books, mirroring that need in film decades later

DUBAI: Black Panther creator Stan Lee foresees a Middle Eastern Marvel hero on the big screen: ‘It’s only a matter of time’

When Black Panther became the first movie to screen in Saudi Arabia’s cinemas in 35 years at last night’s gala in Riyadh, it was the exclamation point at the end of an outstanding box office run for perhaps the most important film of 2018. 

Seeing a superhero film featuring a predominantly black cast has been a huge social moment for many people of color across the world, cementing a new era for the genre and mainstream cinema as a whole. 

When Stan Lee co-created Black Panther with Jack Kirby in 1966, he never dreamed it would be as significant as it became.

“It wasn’t a huge deal to me. It was a very normal natural thing,” Lee told HuffPost Canada. “A good many of our people here in America are not white. You’ve got to recognize that and you’ve got to include them in whatever you do. If my books and my stories can change that, can make people realize that everybody should be equal, and treated that way, then I think it would be a better world.”

Nonetheless, he saw a need for a black superhero in comic books, mirroring that need in film decades later.

“At that point, I felt we really needed a black superhero,” Lee told HuffPost Canada. “And I wanted to get away from a common perception. So what I did, I made him almost like [Fantastic Four’s] Reed Richards. He’s a brilliant scientist and he lives in an area that, under the ground, is very modern and scientific and nobody suspects it because on the surface it’s just thatched huts with ordinary ‘natives.’ And he’s not letting the world know what’s really going on or how brilliant they really are.”

Lee briefly appears in the landmark film, though he wished he could do more. 

“I’m a little disappointed in my Black Panther cameo,” Lee told the audience of ACE Comic Con in Arizona a few months ago. “I had wanted a great fight scene where I fight the Black Panther to a standstill. I didn’t get that, but I want you to see the movie anyway. Even though it’s not my greatest cameo, you owe it to me to see it.”

Lee, though he has not been able to come visit the Middle East, has appeared multiple times via satellite at the Middle East Film and Comic Con to answer questions from devoted fans in Dubai.

“It’s incredible that they have one out there,” he told Arab News. “They’ve always treated me kind and with the utmost respect. They are an A-class show.”

Though he’s decided that he can no longer travel abroad, he still has hope he can come see his fans in the Middle East soon.

“You never know, I can always change my mind and make a surprise appearance somewhere,” Lee says. 

When asked whether Marvel will introduce a Middle Eastern superhero on the big screen, Lee has no doubt it will happen. “It’s only a matter of time,” Lee said.

In his lifetime, Marvel has become one of the strongest brands in the world, especially since the launch of Marvel Studios
10 years ago with Iron Man. While Black Panther has become one of its greatest successes, Lee sees this as a continuation of the legacy that he began with his collaborators more than 50 years ago.

“It’s always been Marvel time. I think people are embracing these heroes because it’s fun. Comic books have always been about stories that you can enjoy and believe in. There is a greater acceptance to that now more than ever,” Lee said. 

Of all his creations, Spider-Man remains Lee’s favorite, co-created with Steve Ditko with help from Kirby. 

“The reason is because anybody can be Spider-Man under that mask,” including Miles Morales, the Black-Latinx character who will appear in the upcoming Sony/Marvel animation film Spider-Man: into the Spider-Verse. 

Lee is also happy to see Spider-Man back in the Marvel cinematic universe, including the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War. 

“It’s been a long time coming but I’m very happy that he’s here now,” Lee says.

Important to Lee is that his characters, including Spider-Man and Black Panther, are imperfect, which is one reason why they resonate with audiences to this day. 

“I wanted to have my characters with flaws,” he said. “I wanted them to be more like an ordinary person having every day issues.”  

Lee said that in his long career, he has no regrets, with his only wish “to be remembered as a person who brought a little happiness to the world.”


Nicole Scherzinger proves she’s just like every other tourist with this iconic Dubai snap

Updated 54 min 11 sec ago
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Nicole Scherzinger proves she’s just like every other tourist with this iconic Dubai snap

  • The singer performed for the Abu Dhabi Special Olympics, where more than 7,500 athletes took part
  • Scherzinger's aunt has Down Syndrome

DUBAI: Dubai is one of the region’s most popular tourist hubs and there’s one photograph that eager visitors scramble to snap when they touch down in the city of gold — a shot of them standing in front of the iconic Burj Khalifa.

Visitor from the furthest reaches of the globe can always be seen striking a pose — or 20 — in front of the tallest building in the world before posting the coveted snap online.

Singer Nicole Scherzinger joined the legions of travelers who have posted similar shots on their social media feeds and took to Instagram this week with a collection of snaps of herself standing in front of a glittering Burj Khalifa at night.

The performer wore a black-and-white striped crop top with a matching tiered maxi skirt, complete with frilled layers.

She visited Dubai after performing in the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi’s closing concert.  

The games saw more than 7,500 athletes from 190 nations compete in 24 officially sanctioned Olympic-style sports geared toward athletes with intellectual disabilities.

“Tonight, I got to go out into the stadium and hang amongst some of the amazing athletes that competed at the @worldgamesad this week. Over 7000 phenomenal humans with intellectual disabilities (or as I call them, super abilities)… came together in Abu Dhabi to battle it out through sports. My love and admiration of this organization is almost selfish — the joy and inspiration spending time with them brings me restores my faith in humanity time and time again. Athletes, you are of such determination, power, SUPERPOWERS, strength, grace, humility and pure LOVE! Congratulations to all of the incredible talent that competed and celebrated with us tonight,” the star posted on Instagram after her show.

According to the organizers, singer and songwriter Scherzinger has a personal connection with the Special Olympics due to her close relationship with her aunt, who has Down syndrome.

“She is such a positive influence and inspiration for me,” Scherzinger told the UK’s Metro newspaper in 2013. “People get caught up in everyday little problems and in their own vanity and Keziah is always happy and there to give you love and a hug no matter what. She’s a big walking ball of love – she inspires me to be happy, help others and be more grateful.”