All hail the Black Panther! It’s hard not to get excited by this incredible look at still images from the upcoming Marvel movie directed by Ryan Coogler and led by Chadwick Boseman. Audiences got to see the scene-stealing T’Challa in Captain America: Civil War, but now the Wakandan king will get to show off his skills in his home nation while also shouldering the responsibilities of the royal throne.
A bunch of new images come courtesy of EW, along with lots of commentary on just what your eyeballs are about to absorb. And it’s not just a comic book adaptation, but “sort of a cross between James Bond and The Godfather,” says executive producer Nate Moore. “A big, operatic family drama centered on a world of international espionage.” That’s a bold statement, but this is all just a taste of what’s to come ahead of San Diego Comic-Con, and a satisfying tease ahead of Black Panther‘s premiere on February 16, 2018.
Check out the low-res, dial-up connection version of the Black Panther images below (via EW). We’ll have the real, high-res, non-watermarked versions available when Disney/Marvel decides to share them:
Here’s a closer look at Forest Whitaker‘s character Zuri, a shaman and trusted adviser described as a somewhat religious or spiritual figure by Coogler.
While audiences will get to enjoy Wakanda’s natural beauty, there’s also a bit of world traveling in Black Panther. Feige explains:
“That’s a very super lux high-end underground casino in South Korea where there is a great scene where Lupita, Danai, and Chad will walk in dressed to the nines. Klaue is there and it’s a big action scene. It’s important that this all feels big, glossy, and entertaining at the same time.”
Meet the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s all-female Special Forces and Secret Service combo. Led by Okoye (Danai Gurira) with undercover operative Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and the king’s personal guard Ayo (Florence Kasumba), the Dora Milaje not only protects the king but also hunts down enemies of Wakanda across the world. The work of Oscar-nominated costume designer Ruth E. Carter (Amistad, Malcolm X) is on fine display here. Gurira describes Okoye as follows:
“She is a lover and protector of her people and of the throne. To protect the throne, you are protecting the core institution of the nation which allows it to thrive.”
Nakia plays multiple important roles in T’Challa’s life, as Nyong’o describes:
“In her journey in this film, she has to really choose between her passion for her calling and her passion for her king.”
Following the assassination of his father T’Chaka (John Kani), T’Challa must assume the role of Black Panther and King of Wakanda. Boseman described how that moment will carry momentum into this film:
“It [explores] his mourning process, his connection to why his father was killed, and feeling like he should have been able to do something about it. All that ties into how he’s going to rule.”
In Black Panther, T’Challa defends his home turf from ne’er-do-wells seeking to steal Wakanda’s Vibranium riches.
Kevin Feige, who commented that Marvel Studios could make almost half a dozen movies centered on the Black Panther mythology because of how rich the world is, said, “Creating a character named Black Panther, who comes across in those early comics as smarter than everybody else, is shrewder than everybody else, comes from a country that is more advanced than any other country… They were doing this in the ‘60s, right in the middle of the Civil Rights movement. That’s pretty good. And we are certainly not going to shy away from that.”
Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), originally named N’Jadaka, is ultimately exiled from Wakanda, perhaps due to his over-ambitious motives. Boseman weighs in:
“I can say that I identify with Killmonger’s character. He definitely has a different point of view. They are polar opposites.”
In the background of this shot is W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya), T’Challa’s best friend and a fierce warrior from the highly capable border tribe. “As T’Challa ascends to the throne, he asks W’Kabi to serve as an advisor, trusting his friend’s knowledge and instincts,” says executive producer Nate Moore.
Welcome to Warrior Falls, a place of spiritual significance in Wakanda. T’Challa and Killmonger square off while the Dora Milaje looks on, weapons at the ready. Curious about Killmonger’s pattern of raised marks on his skin, ones that appear similar to Ethiopian and Sudanese scar tattoos? So are we, but, “That is a story reveal that we’d like to preserve,” says Moore.
Family plays a big part in Black Panther. T’Challa’s sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) and mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) embark on a mission to visit M’Baku (Winston Duke), treacherous ruler of the mountain tribe in Wakanda’s icy region. Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman), the rare outsider allowed within Wakanda’s borders, accompanies them.
Freeman’s “completely, totally competent” Ross works to earn T’Challa’s trust by collaborating on the pursuit of mercenary Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), who has stolen some of Wakanda’s most closely held secrets and has quite the history with the royal family.
And here’s the one-armed Klaue himself. The villain has teamed up with Killmonger, who helps spring him from this CIA prison, in pursuit of Vibranium. Serkis says, “As long as [Klaue] can amass fortune and cause disruption in the world at the same time, I think he’s a happy man.”
Feige comments that “Klaue is the first [Panther] villain appearing in 1966 [and] Everett Ross showed up 10 or 12 years ago in the [Christopher] Priest run in Panther comics. It’s always fun to pick these characters and put them in together.” How precious!
In a behind-the-scenes shot, Coogler has a word with Boseman. Here’s what the filmmaker says of T’Challa:
“What makes him different from other superheroes first and foremost is he doesn’t see himself as a superhero. He sees himself as a politician. That’s the first thing on his mind when he wakes up in the morning: ‘How am I going to fulfill my duties as king of this place?’”