Behind the Scenes of ‘Black Panther’
Fan excitement for Marvel’s Black Panther is at an all-time high. In January 2017, press outlets visited the set as the film began shooting and got a few scoops on what audiences can expect.
Thanks to our friends at Black Girl Nerds, we’ve compiled some of the best hints at what to expect when the movie hits the big screen Feb. 16.
As usual, Marvel is keeping the story top-secret, however, it was revealed the it’s based on the comic book runs of Christopher Priest and Ta-Nehisi Coates.
“You know Ta-Nehisi and Ryan have a friendship. They’ve spoken…to Chris, who’s incredibly smart and obviously, did the seminal run on the character so far,” said executive producer Nate Moore. “We’ve talked to him, it hasn’t gone as far as consulting but we always wanted to pick their brain as to what they found interesting about the character in the world. It turned out, a lot of what they found interesting, is what we also found interesting. It was really Chris and Ta-Nehisi’s runs that were the most inspirational.”
It was revealed that fans shouldn’t expect cameos from any other Avengers. Though the movies are connected, this is very much a Wakandan story, so that is the focus.
There will be flashbacks to a young T’Challa’s life.
THE WOMEN OF WAKANDA
One of the aspects fans are most anticipating about the movie is exploring the Dora Milaje. Moore calls them “an all-female Seal Team Six,” and wants to see their individual stories.
For costume designer Ruth E. Carter, it was important that they dress like warriors with practical outfits and equipment.
“We didn’t want the guy in the skin suit walking around with the girls in the bathing suits, so we developed it more as a real warrior might be developed,” she said. “Real warriors who need their arms protected and need to have shields and armor and weaponry and shoes like they’re really going to go to battle.”
For her role as Nakia, Lupita Nyong’o has been studying Judo, Jujitsu and Philippine martial arts.
“So I’m learning all these cool skills and I get to jump higher than I though I could jump, and I get to roll back, which I thought I would never do after the age of eight, so it’s been fun,” she said.
One character getting a change for the film is Letitia Wright’s Shuri. She is T’Challa’s overprotective younger sister and the head of technology in Wakanda. She protects the technology and keeps in secret from the world.
“As far as the technologically advanced side, in our mind and in our incarnation, Shuri is the head of the Wakandan design group so she’s the smartest person in the world,” said Moore. “Smarter than Tony Stark but she’s a 16 year-old girl, which we thought was really interesting. Again, black faces in positions of power or positions of technology know how that’s a rarity. It’s something that’s a big part of the film.”
Perhaps the most important figure in T’Challa’s life is his mother Ramonda, played by Angela Bassett. Chadwick Boseman explained her influence on him.
“All of these characters are strong, and even if it’s not a physical prowess, there is a mental prowess. It’s intelligence and savvy,” said Boseman. “Obviously, you have Angela Bassett here. She’s incredible to watch. Again, she’s always really strong. I would say in this movie because my father is dead, it gives me an opportunity to look to her for wisdom and I think it shows the matriarchal African society in doing that.”
“She’s an advisor that I would go to. It’s a culture relationship,” he continued. “It’s not just like she’s my mother, she’s on the side. She’s not a figurehead mother. I’m not gonna talk about their characters too much but just to have them here, it’s just a beautiful thing.”
EVERETT K. ROSS AND ULYSSES KLAUE
Martin Freeman’s appearance as Everett K. Ross in Captain America: Civil War, much like Andy Serkis’ Klaue in Avengers: Age of Ultron, was meant to introduce him to MCU viewers before Black Panther.
“He is the coolest man in the room. [laughs] He has some authority. He’s good at his job. I think we’re going as realistic as you can be in a heightened universe,” said Freeman. “It would be slightly incredible for him not to be good at his job and not to be competent at this position that he’s at.
“He’s good at his job. He’s well-traveled. He’s well-versed in the ways of the world,” he continued. “Wakanda is gonna be a surprise to him. But, in terms of meeting diplomats, kings, that’s not particularly fazing to him. He meets superheroes. So I think some of his humor comes from exasperation rather than [being dumbfounded]. That’s not his function in this.”
Speaking of Klaue, Serkis has some very interesting thoughts on whether he and Killmonger will team up against T’Challa.
“Klaw doesn’t really trust or work with anybody; he is his own man. He does deals with people, he interacts, but he doesn’t form allegiances or alliances with anyone,” said Serkis. “Ultimately, he’s a lone wolf. He has these pop-up groups wherever he happens to be in the world. So he and Killmonger aren’t working together, as such.”
Black Panther will offer viewers their first glimpse at Klaue’s new arm since it was cut off in Age of Ultron.
“We’ve established the character and our version of Klaw in Ultron. He obviously had his arm chopped off and he has a weapon, which we will discover,” said Serkis.
THE LOOK OF BLACK PANTHER
Despite the film’s very modern look, production designer Hannah Beachler kept things grounded by basing the sigils for each tribe on real world symbols.
“The Border Tribe is horsemen, which is after the Lesothos in South Africa, and the Merchant Tribe is a symbol that we took from some language from Nigeria, so we did that,” said Beachler. “The Golden Tribe is the sun, and we used what is a lot of the symbols for sun in a lot of the African tribes, it’s kind of the same so we went there, but that’s the older texture.”
Directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Florence Kasumba, Winston Duke, Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett, Black Panther claws its way into theaters Feb. 16.