The day after the world premiere of Marvel Studios’ Black Panther, we had a chance to hear from the stars and writer/director Ryan Coogler of the film along with the head of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige.
One of the first things we learned from Black Panther himself (Chadwick Boseman) was about how he learned he was going to become the iconic superhero and how he knew a secret about his character. “The initial phone call from Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Nate Moore and the Russo Brothers was one where they essentially said, ‘We want to bring your character into the Marvel Cinematic Universe – as a stand-alone, but this is the best way to introduce him in Civil War.’ So I was aware of it. And I think when I was shooting Civil War, I was not aware that other people weren’t aware that this was going to happen because it was such at the forefront of my mind, you know, and when we did the introduction at El Capitan… I love the fact that it’s a surprise to people,” Boseman said.
As I said in my review of this film, the ladies in the movie really do steal the show. Danai Gurira talked about the evolution of her character Okoye, saying, “When Ryan sat me down and talked to me about his vision, and the story, and the characters, and the women, I was just floored, you know, because you don’t actually get to hear that often. You know, you don’t actually get to hear that often. You know, you don’t actually get sat down and hear that type of a vision. And then it embodied with us being on the continent, women from the continent, but very developed, very complex.” She also added, “There’s so many great things I could say about how Ryan developed these women characters and allowed us to collaborate – that I’m just – I feel really blessed about and excited.”
Letitia Wright, who plays Shuri the sister of King T’Challa/Black Panther and all around tech goddess, was asked about her chapter, to which she said, “What I love about it, as well, with how it was written is that the men are always behind the women, as well. So no one’s like undermined – like, the men are like, you know, ‘You shouldn’t be in technology, and you shouldn’t be in math.’ They’re like, ‘No, go ahead.’ Like, so T’Challa is like, ‘Go ahead, Sis. This is your department. This is your domain.” The question of whether Shuri was smarter than T’Challa was posed, with Wright answering, “She’s cooler than him, but not smarter than him.”
Both Coolger and Feige were asked about how much this film seems to reflect many things going on in the world right now. Kevin summed it up by saying, “Ryan wrote this for the most part, you know, a year and a half ago, two years ago so things have happened in the world which makes the film seem more relevant. There are other things in the film that have been relevant for centuries, but the truth of the matter is Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and the whole Marvel bullpen created Wakanda and created T’Challa and created Black Panther and made him a smarter, more accomplished character than any of the other white characters in the mid 1960s. So they had the guts to do that in the mid-1960s. The least we can do is live up to that and allow this story to be told the way it needed to be told and not shy away from things that the Marvel founders didn’t shy away from in the height of the civil rights era.”
Coogler was also asked about which of the Black Panther comics he pulled from for this film. “We pulled from all of them,” he said. “We pulled from like pretty much, you can go to our film and see something in there probably from every writer that has touched T’Challa’s character in the Black Panther comics… The characters got a long history, you know, and it’s such a rich stuff to mine. And each kind of writer kind of left their own mark, you know, on it like Claude’s been around for a long time. But you know Agent Ross was about Christopher Priest and that run and Suri’s character was about Reginald Hudlin and his run, you know, so each run kind of leaves something for us to pull from, but we pulled from absolutely all of them.”
As time was running out, Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis were asked about their experience working on this film. Serkis shared this with the audience: “Actually we were just talking about that earlier on and it was very funny ‘cause you reminded me of a story of Ryan saying to us before we were about to do our scene. Ryan came up to us and said, ‘You know, I’ve never actually directed two white actors before.'” He added, “It was an incredible experience working with Ryan. He is one of the most brilliant, you know, wonderful, warm, humble, incredibly clever, articulate visionary directors and just to be part of this was just, well for me, I mean I don’t know what you thought of it.”
The deepest question of the day was about the cost of self-preservation versus saving the world. Daniel Kaluuya field the question of whether it was worth it, saying, “A hundred percent, because you don’t know where that grows – what that grows into.” He elaborated, “There’s good and bad in every situation and that’s what is amazing about this film for me was that there’s no right decision, there’s just a take… If the cause is just you just do what you need to do and then sometimes there’s sacrifices, but there’s also sacrifices if you don’t do it and that’s the battle that we’re in.”
And with that, our day with the cast of Marvel’a Black Panther came to a close. Make sure you get out this weekend and see this amazing film in a theater near you.