The highly anticipated film follows Marvel’s first-ever black superhero T’Challa, aka Black Panther, who returns to his birthplace, the isolated, technologically advanced African land of Wakanda, to succeed to the throne as king after the death of his father. Faced with much opposition and evil, king T’Challa will need to rally his troupe and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his enemies and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.
The movie boasts a star-studded all-black cast Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, Lupita Nyongo as Nakia Danai, bodyguard and love interest of the young leader. Michael B. Jordan, as Erik Killmonger, Forest Whitaker as Zuri, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Danai Gurira as Okoye, and Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross.
T’Challa, the Black Panther, splits his time between ruling Wakanda and being an Avenger. A cadre of brilliant and strong women take the reigns and lead the nation under their feet in his stead.
The movie shows the intelligence, the savvy, and freedom of a culture that is capable of serving themselves without any help from outside influences. It’s a reminder of who Black people were before being enslaved and an inspiration of what we can do if we come together and serve our community.
Speaking to CNET about Wakanda’s identity and evolution, Boseman had a frank reaction to being asked about the accent he developed while playing T’Challa in both Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther. Why doesn’t a European-educated man like T’Challa speak with a European accent? For Boseman, it came down to a simple fact: T’Challa speaks like a Wakandan because Wakanda evolved and thrived without the taint of Colonialism that ravaged the African continent:
“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, to be a ruler, his education comes from Europe. I wanted to be entirely sure that we didn’t convey that idea because that would counter everything that Wakanda is about. It’s supposed to be the most technologically advanced nation on the planet. If it’s supposed not to 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.”
When Nyongo speaks about the magic of Wakanda, she remembers her homeland of Kenya. “For me, as an African who lives outside Africa and wrestles with that dichotomy of tradition and modernity, this is almost healing,”
It’s been said that Marvel’s Stan Lee created the comic based on The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, otherwise known as the Black Panther Party (BPP), established in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. These two leading revolutionary men created the national organization as a way to combat white oppression collectively. They established a unified platform and their goals for the party included demands for freedom, land, housing, employment, monitoring the police, education, and feeding their community.
The Black Panther depicts the power of a nation. Ta-Nehisi Coates, who wrote a vivid Black Panther spin-off comic in 2016, describes it as “the fulfillment of some deep wish that extends throughout the black diaspora to show that we are human, that we are beautiful, that we can be bad-asses, too. We’ve occupied such a servile place in film and TV,” he continues. “It’s nice to see that flipped.”
Nyong’o agrees. “The little Kenyan child in me leaped for joy because it’s such an affirmation,” she says. “What colonialism does is cause an identity crisis about one’s own culture.”
Grammy-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar and SZA dropped All the Stars Jan. 4, a dreamy collaboration that will appear on the Panther soundtrack.
Marvel announced that Lamar would also curate and produce Black Panther: The Album along with Top Dawg Entertainment CEO Anthony Tiffith. The album, set to drop Feb. 9, will feature 14 songs.
Fandango announced that the film had set a record for pre-sale tickets for a Marvel movie during its first 24 hours. Those not lucky enough to get a ticket for opening night will have to wait until Feb. 16 to see the much-hyped superhero flick.