It comes as no surprise, but Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther is going to be one of the biggest Marvel films. It’s already setting records in advance sales for Fandango; it was the top seller among Marvel Cinematic Universe movies in the first 24 hours, topping Captain America: Civil War.
This isn’t just another film breaking records. It’s a film of representation. It will be Marvel’s first film to be led by a person of color. It’s also a film that portrays people of color in a superior light. T’Challa, the Black Panther played by Chadwick Boseman, is the richest superhero and quite possibly the wealthiest fictional character of all time.
We had the opportunity to visit the set of Black Panther and get the 411 on Marvel’s most anticipated film from the cast themselves. Check out our Q & A with Chadwick Boseman below.
Q: Is T’Challa more like a King or Black Panther?
Boseman: I think neither. He’s been Black Panther before. I would say the beginning of this movie is shortly after Civil War has ended, so he’s still mourning. There’s a rest in Wakanda. So, what he’s dealing with is being the King; making the transition, into filling the footsteps of his father. So, it’s probably going to feel like it’s more about the political unrest than the superhero, initially.
Q: What’s the learning curve from going from being Black Panther to becoming a King?
A: He’s been prepared for his whole life. He’s groomed, so to speak, to do it. I think it’s just a mental transition and it does not help that, like if his father had decided he was going to step down, because he’s to old, I can’t do it anymore, then that would be a different scenario. But because he died in the last movie, I think the transition has to do with that mourning process. He’s been groomed to do it.
Q: Did you approach this role differently than you did Civil War?
Boseman: Yeah. Not to say there wasn’t a deeper understanding, but, some of the things we came to an understanding of, we couldn’t show in the last movie. So it gave it all a chance to marinate. Certain things we were unsure about, we’re 100% sure about now; even down to accent, how he walks, what his sense of humor is (which actually develops more in this movie). In the last movie, he was pretty focused on what he had to do, so there was no time to make any jokes. But, in Black Panther, you see him in his more natural environment and around people he knows.
Q: When T’Challa showed up in Civil War, the fan reaction was so huge. Did that impact how you approached Black Panther in any way?
Boseman: No, because I’m not saying I didn’t expect the fan reaction to be what it was. But, to a certain degree, I’m unaware of the fan reaction.
Q: Were you aware of the #BlackPantherSoLit hashtag?
Boseman: I see it. I see certain things. But, I see it in a different way because it’s important for me to not look at everything that’s happening. So, I see it because it’s impossible to not see it. But, there’s a certain removal I have to have from it in order to play (the role) because you have people saying, ‘it’s gotta have this or it’s gotta have that.’ If you were to follow their thoughts from the last one (Civil War), there would’ve been a lot of stuff that was wrong. So, I think you kind of stay in it in a way where your decisions are made based upon the things that are organic. There’s a lot of story to tell. All of the different departments are all story tellers. So you’re collaborating with them more so than you can the audience. You are collaborating with the audience, but it’s not like, if I was doing a play… Between blogs, this and that, and journalists, you can’t really put your foot in that. So, I would say no, it’s the fact that now, in this case, you have a new director building on the steps of previous directors, writers, new writers. There’s so many other factors that come into play; various different writers, various different versions of the characters. So, it’s a lot of stuff to put in that you are being influenced by.
Q: How did the collaboration with Ryan shape the way you saw Black Panther and his story?
Boseman: I think we have very similar views anyway. I think thats one of the reasons why they put us together. You ever date someone and they’re like you’re really gonna like this person? It’s kind of like that. We have very similar views about what things should be like. And the things that we usually have a difference of opinion about, is so minute what the differences are, that I think it’s more of a growth. When no one is battling you, you are constantly building on each other. It’s been a good marriage so far.
Q: Overall, what draws you to this story, and what fascinates you about being a mart of the Marvel family now?
Boseman: Well, they have a good batting average in terms of successful films and films people love. To be specific about this film, it’s just a good character. It’s an interesting character. If it was some how not as good as it is, I wouldn’t want to do it. Just because it’s Marvel, doesn’t mean you want to do it. They tend to be offering people things that are interesting and good and want to push envelopes in certain places. So Black Panther specifically, you’ve obviously never seen a movie like it before. For me, every project has to be something that is challenging and cool. It keeps me interested. So, that’s all that really matters. And this is definitely one of them.
Q: Can you talk about the female characters you’re playing with? They’re all very strong, valuable woman. Can you talk about what they bring to your character and what makes him better?
Boseman: The first one I’ll talk about is actually Shuri. It’s not very often you see a superhero with a little sister. I think that is not going to occur to people. It’s not unheard of, but it’s an unusual thing. So, I think it brings out a different part of his character. Usually you have the damsel in distress and I don’t think there are any damsels in distress in this movie. All of these characters are strong. Even if it’s not a physical prowess, there’s a mental prowess. But the one that stand out the most, is Shuri. She has the ability to be a little sister who pokes at you. You’re protective of her, but she still thinks she’s your mother. The actress, Letitia Wright, has those qualities. She makes you happy as soon as you see her. Every day she comes in, you’re like oh shoot, that just changed my attitude about everything. I think that’s the one that stands out the most. Obviously, you have Angela Bassett. She’s incredible to watch and again, she’s always really strong. Because my father is dead in this movie, it gives me the opportunity to look to her for wisdom. It also shows the matriarchal African society in doing that. She’s an advisor I would go to and it’s a close relationship. And to have Lupita and Denai, just to have them here’s just a beautiful thing. I love them as actresses and they challenge the director every day. They bring those same challenges that their characters have, they sort of attack T’Challa the same way. They’re not afraid to challenge him. It’s cool to have conflict that’s not ‘I’m going to kill you conflict.’ You need other types of conflict to bring out other parts of your character. So, I think the fact that they present conflict without being enemies, in most cases, is a cool thing.
Black Panther is coming to a theatre near you, February 16th, 2018.