Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther in Marvel’s groundbreaking blockbuster

Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther in Marvel’s groundbreaking blockbuster

We spoke to the Black Panther star about the inspiration behind this epic superhero film.

Starring

Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira

Director

Ryan Coogler

Release date

February 16, 2018

More movie details →

If you read Marvel comics during the 1950s until the mid-1960s you knew two things: almost all the superheroes featured were white men — that was a given — and New York City served as their home base.

Headquartered in the Big Apple, Marvel’s staff of writers and artists created characters that lived and worked in the streets they knew so well. Iron Man, Tony Stark, grew up in a Manhattan mansion, Captain America, Steve Rogers, is a Brooklyn boy, Spider-Man, Peter Parker, hails from Queens and the Fantastic Four work out of the fictional Baxter Building, a Manhattan skyscraper located near the United Nations.

The origins of a new hero

However, in July 1966, in issue #52 of The Fantastic Four, writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby introduced a superhero who was unlike any character they had previously created together: Black Panther, a.k.a. King T’Challa, was the first black superhero in comic book history, hailing from the fictional African nation of Wakanda. To outside eyes Wakanda is a poor, isolated country, but in fact it’s the world’s most technologically advanced nation due to its discovery of the rare element Vibranium, a sound-absorbing, impenetrable metal (Captain America’s shield is composed of Vibranium).

Chadwick Boseman made his debut as Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War before headlining his own movie, Black Panther, helmed by Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station).

The movie finds T’Challa dealing with the responsibility of governing Wakanda, which must fend off an attack from Wakandan exile Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who blames T’Challa for the death of his family.

From our archives: Watch Chadwick Boseman in a 2018 interview for Black Panther

“T’Challa’s first allegiance, according to his rites of passage and the mantle and the crown, is to the people of Wakanda,” says Boseman on the line from Los Angeles.

“And there may be times when what is best for his country may not coincide with what's best for the world. He doesn't make decisions without having to hear from his constituents and counsel and having to deal with the politics of those decisions. He can go out and save the world, but somebody is going to wonder why he didn’t show up at the meeting he was supposed to show up at,” says Boseman with a chuckle.

The African influences

Black Panther represents the first time the African continent and its various cultures have taken centre stage in a massive Hollywood superhero pic. Although the film wasn’t shot in Africa, but rather on a soundstage in Atlanta, Boseman says he and the cast realized they were making something special.

“That's been the beauty of this,” says Boseman. “Wakanda is not real, yet it must be based in things that are real that are from the continent. The wardrobe designer, Ruth Carter, brought a myriad of different things from the culture in terms of jewellery and clothing, and the hair department, all of that stuff was present.

“There's so many different things that I could draw from, especially music. I think the key thing for me was to have drums present on set that were playing. I wanted to make sure that we had a drummer, or drummers, there all the time so I brought along a drummer named Jabari Exum. He was helpful not just for me but I think for the whole cast.”

“It’s been fun having this cast figure out what this film will look like, sound like and feel like. We were all kind of trying to build on what was started in Civil War and explore that.”

The incredible cast

And the film’s predominantly black cast is exceptional, boasting an all-star lineup — Angela Bassett portrays T’Challa’s mother Ramonda, Forrest Whitaker is spiritual leader Zuri, Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger, Danai Gurira as warrior Okoye, Letitia Wright as T’Challa’s tech-savvy sister Shuri and Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o as T’Challa’s ex-lover and Wakandan spy, Nakia.

“It’s been fun having this cast figure out what this film will look like, sound like and feel like. We were all kind of trying to build on what was started in Civil War and explore that.”

“I like to make movies that could one day be classics. The ones that come on HBO or TNT or whatever, and you say every time this comes on I have to watch this. I want Black Panther to be the type of movie that you say, ‘Oh, we've got to watch at least 15 minutes of this. I know I should be doing something else but let me get 15 minutes of this before I do what I'm supposed to do.’”

Are you ready for Avengers: Endgame?

First, get your tickets! Then, book some quality catch-up time. You’ll find all the MCU titles (not still in theatre) at the Cineplex store! Whether you should watch them chronologically or by order of release is one battle you’ll have to take on with your friends.

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