Ryan Coogler Isn’t Time Magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year, But He’s Ours

Director Ryan Coogler attends the photocall for Rendezvous with Ryan Coogler during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival on May 10, 2018 in Cannes, France.
Photo: Andreas Rentz (Getty Images)

As we shuffle into 2018’s conclusion, Time Magazine has named their Person of the Year.

According to Deadline, Time Magazine has named Jamal Khashoggi and “Truth Guardians” (also known as journalists), Maria Ressa, Wa Lone, Kyaw Soe Oo, and the Capital Gazette (Annapolis, Md.) as their 2018 Person(s) of the Year. Time’s editor-in-chief, Edward Felsenthal, dubbed the journalists with the most impactful honor, noting they “are representative of a broader fight by countless others around the world—as of Dec. 10, at least 52 journalists have been murdered in 2018—who risk all to tell the story of our time.”

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The journalists topped Head Cheeto Casserole-In-Chief, Donald Trump, which is sure to get him into a tantrum tizzy. There’s no question; journalists certainly had a year. A lot happened this year (the most, to be specific), so the competition of “most impactful person of the year” was pretty stiff.

Still, we have to give props to one person who made the shortlist: Mr. Ryan Coogler. In 2013, the magazine already had their eyes on the monumental auteur, having named him to its “30 People Under 30” list of people they believed were changing the world.

And change the world, he did.

The Oakland native and Black Panther director landed at number six on the coveted list. Helming the most popular movie of the year is no small feat, and the fact that Marvel has its eyes on the high-grossing film becoming the first superhero film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar will kick the unapologetically thick Oakland-accented filmmaker into an entirely different stratosphere. As the youngest director in Marvel cinematic history, the then-29-year-old left an unrelenting impression on its parent company, Disney.

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“It was clear 10 minutes into the meeting that he was interviewing us, not the other way around,” said Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige. “This movie started in the soul of this young filmmaker, and people can feel that when they watch it.”

In just 26 days following its theatrical release, Black Panther had amassed $1 billion worldwide, joining only 55 other movies that had reached that astronomical amount since the year 2000, according to QZ.

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“When you do a huge movie, some people get the wrong idea that you’re selling out,” Coogler told Time on the day his big blockbuster film screened at art house theater, The Smith Rafael Film Center. “But I wanted to make a movie for the people.”

That October, Coogler had secured the sequel bag and was announced as the director of Black Panther 2, also penning the script. The 32-year-old has also donned the producer hat with Creed II and the upcoming Space Jam sequel, starring LeBron James.

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With his 2013 feature film debut, Fruitvale Station, Coogler tackled the gut-wrenching execution of Oscar Grant, an admirable choice as a first-timer in the feature world. The ambitious filmmaker may not have then grasped the possibility of taking on the weight of helming a Marvel juggernaut in black culture at the time, but he did so with the smoothest grace.

Coogler accomplished the rare feat of creating an autonomous film in the Marvel branding franchise. It didn’t look like any other Marvel film, which are typically packaged into their own crayon box. Plus, Black Panther wasn’t just a movie, it was a moment. Not too many directors can say they inspired audiences to fashion an Eventbrite-level wardrobe for a casual movie theater outing—and transform a fictional country into a go-to reference for all things “for the culture.”

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As hot terms like “diversity” and “inclusion” continue to be lobbed around Hollywood, Coogler’s name and face are inevitably included in the conversation. But, he’s not a fad.

“People throw around words like trend and moment,” noted Coogler. “Those words imply that it’s going to come to an end and things are going to go back to normal. I think this is a situation where normal isn’t really normal. The norm is wrong.”

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The norm is wrong. Coogler is the future: He is “the man” this year and the next. And the next.

Ryan Coogler forever.

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About the author

Tonja Renée Stidhum

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.