Ryan Coogler has quickly become one of Hollywood’s most acclaimed directors, but is his best film Creed, Black Panther or Fruitvale Station?
Ryan Coogler quickly became one of Hollywood’s most celebrated modern directors, despite only having three feature films to his name. In a short time, Coogler proved he could combine the personal touch and creativity of independent cinema with the big-budget spectacle expected of modern blockbusters. With Coogler’s fourth feature, Black Panther: Wakanda Foreverslated for release in late 2022, it’s worth looking back at the comparative highs and lows of his career so far.
Coogler began as an acclaimed film student at USC, where he created several award-winning short films before moving into feature films. His first movie, Fruitvale Station received major acclaim and awards at the Sundance and Cannes festivals. Its success led to Coogler being asked to direct Creeda spin-off of the classic Rocky franchise, which became a major hit and helped resurrect the boxing series for a new generation. Next CreedCoogler got involved in an even bigger franchise, directing the first black-led film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Black Pantherwhich was also a huge commercial and critical success.
All three Ryan Coogler movies starred Michael B. Jordan, and Coogler wrote and directed them all. While Coogler only directed three films, he also became a major influence in Hollywood as a producer. He was an executive producer on Creed II and the 2021 documentary Classroomand also produced Judas and the Black Messiah, Space Jam: A New Legacyand the next Creed III. This list will focus on the three feature films that Ryan Coogler wrote and directed, but it’s clear that his influence on Hollywood goes beyond even those influential and successful films.
3) Fruitvale Station
Ryan Coogler’s first feature film, Fruitvale Stationis his most naturalistic and visceral film. Fruitvale Station is based on the infuriating real-life story of Oscar Grant, a young black man killed by a BART cop in San Francisco in 2009. Grant’s story is sadly still more relevant than ever as the Black Lives Matter movement continues to grow. to draw attention to the unacceptable level of police violence experienced by black people, and Fruitvale Station is one of the best recent films dealing with the American police crisis, comparable to television series like those of HBO We own this town.
Which makes Fruitvale Station special is how he treats Oscar Grant not just as a symbol of a problem, but as a real person. Much of the film is dedicated to the last 24 hours of Grant’s life, showcasing all of the relationships and struggles that were cut short by the violence. Ryan Coogler’s intimate directing style helps the viewer empathize with Grant and understand the true tragedy of his death. This focus on Grant’s life may also be a weakness of Fruitvale Station, because a large part of the film is occupied by relatively mundane scenes which, by the nature of the film, do not have a satisfactory resolution. The film is undoubtedly a good directorial debut for Ryan Coogler, but a relatively minor work
2) Black Panther
Anchored by an iconic performance from Chadwick Boseman, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther caused a sensation at the box office and was immediately hailed as one of the best moves in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film introduced audiences to Wakanda, a technologically advanced African country that drew inspiration from Afrofuturist ideas, and told an involving story that saw Boseman’s T’Challa dethroned and having to regain the trust of his kingdom.
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Ryan Coogler’s use of color and well-structured script helped elevate Black Panther above standard MCU fare, feeling like a brief glimpse into a fascinating new setting. The movie also featured one of the best villains of any Marvel movie in Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger, an intense figure with understandable motivations. With a star-studded supporting cast including Lupita Nyong’o, Daneiel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker, it’s easy to see why Black Panther was such a milestone in black culture and around the world.
Black Panther still succumbs to some of the problems that plague the MCU, including a bloated final fight scene and overuse of CGI. The inclusion of Martin Freeman as a heroic CIA white agent also sometimes feels very out of place. But while it may lack the restrained realism of Coogler’s other films, the epic Black Panther is still one of the best blockbusters of the 2010s. Ryan Coogler will be back in Wakanda for the next two Black Panther: Wakanda Forever as well as a Disney+ series set in the fictional African nation.
by Ryan Coogler Creed gave the classic Rocky franchise a modern reinvention and helped launch a new generation of fandom. Creed refocused the franchise on Adonis Creed, the son of Rocky’s biggest rival Apollo, and saw Rocky mentor the young boxer and lead him from club fights to a battle with the pound-for-pound kingpin. Creed helped lift the franchise from the excesses of 1980s cinema and return to the gritty realism and patient character work that made the original Rocky such a classic.
Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone’s performances have drawn a lot of attention, but Ryan Coogler’s direction has also been at the heart of Creedis success. The director used many of the same techniques as in Fruitvale Station, creating a blockbuster that sometimes feels like an indie drama. Coogler also manufactures CreedThe fight scenes feel more real and visceral without sacrificing the franchise’s signature drama.
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Using Ryan Coogler’s film as a model, Creed has become a modern franchise, with Jordan occupying the director’s chair during Creed IIIreleased in the fall of 2022. While Coogler served as a producer on the Creed sequels, his commitments to Disney make it seem unlikely he’ll have more direct involvement in future movies. However, Creed remains Ryan Cooglerthe best feature of, representing the perfect combination of gritty naturalism displayed in Fruitvale Station and the hit show Coogler would later perform with Black Panther.
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