Chadwick Boseman Talks About the Importance of Black Panther
Chadwick Boseman was first introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Captain America: Civil War and now, after the premiere of Thor Ragnarok, he’ll be once again on the big screen playing King T’Challa in Black Panther.
Boseman knows that by playing an iconic role and by being the first black superhero in the MCU with his solo film he has an importance not only to himself but to the world as a whole, as said in a recent interview with CNET.
It’s just this tremendous opportunity, not just for me but for all of us really to get out of our boxes. It’s not just black people getting out of their boxes. Everybody is excited about the opportunity to do something that we should have already done. People are excited about seeing new stuff, but I think they’re extra excited about seeing stuff they should have seen already.
It pulls from various ideologies. It pulls from the blacks-in-science idea, from a nationalist idea, it pulls from a collective-world idea. There’s something that will influence people in a particular way. It took all of this time to come to fruition in a larger way, but now the world is right, the world is able to receive that. It’s just a special thing.
When they call you and say, “So you want to play Black Panther?” if you know what Black Panther is, there’s no way in the world you’re going to say no because there’s a lot of opportunities for magic to happen.
But when asked if he missed characters like Black Panther while growing up, he said that you can’t miss what you don’t know, but hopes to change that with this upcoming feature film.
You don’t know what you’re missing if you haven’t experienced it. People of African descent, most of us grew up accepting and loving Spider-Man. I still love Spider-Man. I still love the Incredible Hulk. I still have those characters that were white role models, superheroes, heroes — whatever you want to call it. You basically had no choice but to accept those. You might have created other superheroes in sports or in politics, but there was never that renowned, widely accepted superhero in the same way.
But you don’t know if you’ve never experienced it. In the same way, kids now [won’t] say, “There will never be a black president.” There are kids that that’s all they know.
And he loves the fact that he’s inspiring people through this role, as he knows it has a bigger impact than what one may think.
I love it. You see how much it means. There was one kid [fighting cancer] who used the Black Panther as sort of his inspiration. He saw himself as a Wakandan, he saw himself as having the spirit of Wakanda in his fight. The fact that he chose you, that’s the world he lives in. It does mean a lot.
When talking about his accent for this role, he knew that if he had chosen a European accent instead of an African one, he would’ve reinforced an old and white supremacist idea.
People think about how race has affected the world. It’s not just in the States. Colonialism is the cousin of slavery. Colonialism in Africa would have it that, in order to be a ruler, his education comes from Europe. I wanted to be completely sure that we didn’t convey that idea because that would be counter to everything that Wakanda is about. It’s supposed to be the most technologically advanced nation on the planet. If it’s supposed to not have been conquered — which means that advancement has happened without colonialism tainting it, poisoning the well of it, without stopping it or disrupting it — then there’s no way he would speak with a European accent.
If I did that, I would be conveying a white supremacist idea of what being educated is and what being royal or presidential is. Because it’s not just about him running around fighting. He’s the ruler of a nation. And if he’s the ruler of a nation, he has to speak to his people. He has to galvanize his people. And there’s no way I could speak to my people, who have never been conquered by Europeans, with a European voice.
But that’s not it, as, in Boseman’s words, our opinion of women in tech will also be changed after watching Black Panther.
If anyone doesn’t think there’s a place for women in tech, it’s completely demolished in this movie.
[Letitia Wright] role is the most important. In the comic book, T’Challa is a scientist and a king, but my sister is the whiz kid. She is the one with that gift. She’s the Tony Stark of Wakanda. She’s witty, she’s cool, she’s funny. Now, T’Challa is good in science too, but she’s the whiz. That’s the way the story’s been told forever.
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Black Panther will premiere on February 9, 2018.