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5 things to know about ‘Black Panther’ director Ryan Coogler

With a 97 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, “Black Panther” is now the highest-rated Marvel movie of all time. 

On Fandango, the film starring Chadwick Boseman and directed by Ryan Coogler is outpacing all superhero films for ticket presales and, according to CNN, analysts say it could rake in more than $160 million during the four-day Presidents Day weekend.

» RELATED: Black Twitter can’t stop gushing about the Hollywood ‘Black Panther’ premiere

Here are five things to know about the filmmaker behind the blockbuster everyone’s talking about:

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What a journey

A post shared by Ryan Coogler (@ryancoogler) on

He’s only 31 years old.

Coogler was born on May 23, 1986, in Oakland, California, and grew up reading about superheroes who looked nothing like him. 

"As I got older, I wanted to find a comic book character that looked like me and not just one that was on the sidelines," Coogler told NPR. "And I walk in and ask the guy at the desk that day, and say, 'Hey man, you got any comic books here about black people, you know, like with a black superhero?' And he was like, 'Oh, yeah, as a matter of fact, we got this one.'"

It was “Black Panther.”

» RELATED: Mayor Bottoms, T.I. (eventually) attend free ‘Black Panther’ screening

A teacher inspired him to become a screenwriter.

While on a football scholarship to Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California, Coogler was taking a creative writing class.

According to Filmmaker Magazine, Coogler was given an assignment to write about a personal experience, so he wrote about the time his father almost bled to death in his arms.

» RELATED: 5 ways ‘Black Panther’ celebrates and elevates black women

Later, the professor called him into his office and asked what Coogler wanted to do with his life.

“Play ball, become a doctor and be a positive influence in my community,” he replied.

Coogler told the magazine he remembers her saying: “I think you should become a screenwriter. You can reach more people.” He thought she was crazy. “But I was always thinking about stories, so maybe there was something to it.”

» RELATED: How much did ‘Black Panther’ spend in Georgia?

His previous feature films are both critically acclaimed.

Coogler’s first feature film, “Fruitvale Station,” which stars Michael B. Jordan, was produced in partnership with Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker.

That film was especially close to his heart, Coogler told Filmmaker Magazine in 2012. It tells the true story of Oscar Grant, an unarmed man shot in the back by a cop in Oakland, California.

The 2013 film holds a high 94 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and won multiple critics awards between 2013 and 2014.

» RELATED: What Michael B. Jordan had to give up for ‘Black Panther’

Coogler’s second feature film, “Creed,” holds a 95 percent Rotten Tomatoes critics rating and earned numerous awards following its 2015 release. His memories of watching the “Rocky” movies with his father inspired him to write the film, Coogler told Variety.

All three of Coogler’s feature films star Michael B. Jordan.

“Fruitvale Station,” “Creed” and “Black Panther” all star Jordan. Now, according to Variety, Jordan will star in a fourth Coogler film, titled ‘Wrong Answer.”

The fourth project will be written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, also the writer for the new “Black Panther” series, and produced by Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B. The film is based on a group of Atlanta high school teachers who participated in the famous Atlanta Public Schools standardized test cheating scandal of 2006. 

» RELATED: Brad Pitt, Michael B. Jordan sign on to Atlanta school cheating movie

He traveled to Africa to research “Black Panther.”

"What does it mean to be African?" Coogler asked himself. “It was a question I couldn’t answer,” he told NPR.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Coogler said he wanted to make sure Wakanda, the fictional setting of the film, didn’t feel like it was a city. It needed to feel like a country.

The fictional country was also inspired by several African landmarks, including South Africa’s Three Rondavels (or Three Sisters) and the canyon Orbi Gorge.

» RELATED: The star-studded premiere of Marvel’s “Black Panther”

"As many pictures of it as you've seen," he added, "there's nothing a camera can do for (you that) your eyes do, or being a person of African descent, what your body does when you touch down there. It's a feeling I couldn't put into words, but I tried to put it into the movie,” he told the LA Times.

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