In the midst of the superhero showdown in Captain America: Civil War, audiences will get their first exposure to a longtime Marvel hero who’s never been seen in live-action before, as Black Panther makes his debut.
Played by Chadwick Boseman (42, Get On Up), T’Challa/Black Panther will get his own movie in 2018, directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed). But as for his introduction in Civil War, Boseman, discussing the character while on the set of the Captain America sequel, noted, “It’s definitely not an origin story, no . . . You meet me as the Prince of Wakanda. You meet me as a politician/monarch, not as a superhero.” However, he added, when we meet him in Civil War, “I am already a Black Panther,” with his emphasis on “A” seemingly referencing the lineage of the title Black Panther.
Co-writer Christopher Markus said the key, when adding new characters, is asking, “Do they have an organic place in the story? Panther has a great place in the story, and Wakanda has a great place in the story. So that even if he wasn’t the seed of a franchise, he’d be a good character with a justified place in the movie.” Markus noted, “There were times early on where we were getting character overload, where [we thought] ‘Maybe that just outta be Joe Blow from wherever, not Black Panther,’ but it’s too good. It’s just too good.”
Markus said that Black Panther, AKA Prince T’Challa, with his royalty background, is someone who isn’t easily impressed by either Iron Man or Captain America. “He’s a guy who could go, ‘Well I’m better at what you do than you. And I’m not gonna take either of your crap.’ It’s fun to have that guy show up after we watch the in fighting and squabbling over however many movies now – someone to come up and go, ‘You don’t matter. This is a country in Africa.’”
Asked about how he differs from Cap or Iron Man, Boseman said, “I think the difference in him is that he’s a ruler of a country. That’s the difference. I wouldn’t even call him a superhero. In the mythology of the country, he’s not a superhero. He’s a warrior, and it’s part of their tradition.” He noted in Wakanda, no one is asking, “‘Who is that masked guy that’s doing this stuff?’ Everybody knows its him, and they expect that its him, and they pray to God, or even him in some cases, that he would do the things that he’s doing. Which is much different from most of the superheroes in which you don’t know their identity and you don’t know when they might show up. There’s an expectation that’s much different. So that’s the main difference.”
“I think Black Panther is interesting because he enters the movie as an outsider and there’s a lot of conflict surrounding him in the film,” Civil War co-director Anthony Russo observed. “So that was really interesting, introducing a new superhero in the midst of a family fight where he’s in many ways an interloper. There’s a lot of tension around that – it’s great dramatic tension. It works great on a story level but it’s tense and complicated.”
While the trailers and photos – and indeed, what we saw on set that day– indicate that at least at one point, Black Panther joins forces with Iron Man, the filmmakers all said it wasn’t so simple. Said producer Nate Moore, “When we were starting to crack this story, there was an opportunity to introduce some cool character who definitely played a different kind of role than being on either Cap’s side or Tony’s side. And the Black Panther seemed like an obvious choice.”
Regarding whether Black Panther sees Iron Man and Captain America as equals or feels they should be taking orders from him, Boseman replied, “That’s a good question. I would say it’s both. There’s always going to be a sense, like if you’re a monarch, that you — it’s not a superiority, but I could always call rank if I have my own country, you know? [Laughs] There’s a space in which I rule. If I’m not in that space, it’s much different though. We’re not in Wakanda, as I said, and all is fair in love and war. Things become equal in war. If you’re not an officer on one side or the other, you can’t really pull rank.”
Captain America himself, Chris Evans, said he felt Black Panther, “Respects anyone who’s of logic. Any style of governing, I think he’s gonna support, as long as it comes from a place of rational thought.”
“He sees both sides of the coin,” said Boseman, of the Civil War conflict. “He sees both sides. It’s necessary to stop crime and to protect your country. He understands that, because that’s what he has to do. But there’s a way to do it that is the best way. Like if it was the Art of War, it would be like, how can you inflict less pain? How can fewer people die and still win the war? He’s a tactician. He’s a strategist, so he appreciates that thought process. So it’s both sides.”
To learn more about Black Panther’s fighting style, the research Boseman has done for the role and more, click HERE.
Captain America: Civil War opens on May 6. Check out the character posters, below: