There has been a lot of talk over the past few months about potential directors for Marvel's highly-anticipated Black Panther, with Ava DuVernay (Selma) and F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) mentioned as possible candidates. While we don't seem to be any closer to finding a filmmaker to take the helm, The Wrap reports that Joe Robert Cole (American Crime Story) is nearing a deal to write the screenplay. The site also reports that Marvel doesn't intend to search for a director until after the screenplay has been completed.

We reported in August that F. Gary Gray was interested in directing Black Panther, shortly after Ava DuVernay backed out. It seems he won't be in contention either, though, since the filmmaker is now in talks to direct Fast & Furious 8, after being listed as one of the top four director candidates just yesterday. Since Fast & Furious 8 will take F. Gary Gray out of contention, the Black Panther director's race is now said to be "wide open."

Chadwick Boseman is set to star in Black Panther, but he will first make his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which kicks off the studio's Phase Three slate when it hit theaters May 6, 2016. Black Panther currently has a July 6, 2018 release date, so the studio still has plenty of time to find the right filmmaker for this superhero adventure. It remains to be seen what other characters may be included in this stand alone adventure, but there have been clues laid out from previous MCU movies.

Related: American Psycho Author Doesn't Think Black Panther Deserves an Oscar

Very little is known about the Black Panther story, but the character's homeland of Wakanda has been teased before in the MCU. Captain America's practically-indestructible shield is made out of vibranium, a rare metal only found in Wakanda, and this summer's Avengers: Age of Ultron featured the debut of Ulysses Klaue, a character from the Marvel Comics who has been a longtime adversary of T'challa and his father, T'chaka. There have been rumors that T'chaka, the current ruler of Wakanda, will either die or pass along his throne to Chadwick Boseman's T'challa in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but that hasn't been confirmed.

Joe Robert Cole is a product of Marvel's writer's program, which is also where Nicole Perlman developed her script for Guardians of the Galaxy. Joe Robert Cole was rumored to have worked on a draft of the studio's Inhumans' script, but he is no longer involved with that project, and if a draft was completed, it isn't expected to be used by the studio. He also wrote and directed the indie thriller Amber Lake, and is currently writing for FX's American Crime Story.

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