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F. Gary Gray Could Direct Marvel’s Black Panther and Furious 8

There’s a saying an old boss I had told me years ago when I was working in post-production: “People would kill to have our problems.” The same could be said about Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray, as he may have a tough choice on his hands.

The Hollywood Reporter is confirming that the director is in negotiations to direct the first part of a final trilogy for the Fast and Furious franchise: Furious 8. We know that Vin Diesel met with Gray earlier this week, and even posted a quick picture on his Facebook feed (see above), so it looks like he may be locked in.

What may get in the way is that Gray is also a contender for Marvel’s Black Panther solo film, as well. Variety slipped that bit of information into its coverage of who is supposedly in the final running to direct Universal’s Furious 8. 

If Gray is already negotiating with Universal, as THR states, then that’s a fairly good sign he’s likely to shoot the next Furious film. As far as I can see, that creates some issues if he wants to direct Black Panther, too. Since Furious 8 is scheduled for an April 2017 release date and Black Panther is set for July 2018, Gray could probably overlap post-production on the car heist film, and pre-production on the superhero film. It would mean three years of continuous work, but it’s not impossible.

But that’s not where the problems end, it’s where the problems start. The Furious films tend to really want to hold onto their directors, as Justin Lin directed four of the films, and Furious 7 director James Wan was supposed to come back for Furious 8 before opting to make The Conjuring 2. This could mean that Universal may be hoping to hold onto Gray for the final two films in the series.

For the last four films, there has been a two-year gap between releases, and with Furious 8 set for 2017 it seems like that trend will continue into the future. If my hunch is right and Universal wants to have Gray direct the final trilogy that would likely put the director in the same situation where he’ll be working on post-production for Black Panther and pre-production on Furious 9. Four-plus years of wall-to-wall work sounds insane, so my best guess is that Marvel will have to look elsewhere for a director for Black Panther.

In another article, we discussed other options of directors for the final Fast and Furious trilogy, including the franchise's first director Rob Cohen, Lin returning, and perhaps even Diesel himself. Louis Leterrier (Now You See Me, The Incredible Hulk) was another rumored candidate.

Furious 8 will premiere in theaters April 14, 2017.

Image: Vin Diesel