The release date for Black Panther, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe standalone movie to feature an African-American superhero, is getting ever closer. Last month, we showed you the first official poster, the first official trailer, and an updated, detailed synopsis. And now, we've got more on the movie, including 20 brand new stills and some details about the main characters.
The annual Entertainment Weekly Comic-Con preview issue covers all of this, and its exquisite cover features three characters from the movie. In one of the articles in the magazine, Marvel President Kevin Feige promises that the February 16, 2018 release will shake us up:
I don't think people are prepared for what this movie is going to be. Not just Black Panther, but the Dora Milaje, and Killmonger, and the entire design of Wakanda - both its traditional African-inspired elements, but also the Vibranium-inspired techno-elements. I can't think of a blend that has happened like that before in movies.
Feige is reluctant to compare the eighteenth MCU installment with any movie from the past, but executive producer Nate Moore feels that it pays tribute to two highly dissimilar cinematic classics:
What I think we landed on was sort of a cross between James Bond and The Godfather. A big, operatic family drama centered on a world of international espionage. So hopefully we're getting the best of both worlds.
Meanwhile, director Ryan Coogler believes that his upcoming MCU installment is far from being a typical “Good vs. Evil” story:
In this movie, a lot like politics, it's a little tricky to define who's [a good guy]. The film very much plays with those concepts, looking at conflicts and different motivations, and who's with whom.
Let's take a closer look at the main characters!
Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa, aka Black Panther, differs from other superheroes in that he sees himself as a politician rather than a superhero. According to Coogler, the character wakes up every morning with thoughts about his duties as the king of Wakanda, which include keeping his people happy along with battling against external foes. Also, there are a number of political factions with contrasting points of view throughout Wakanda:
He has to keep harmony between the tribes within his country, and that means managing expectations and doing things that are unpopular. At the same time, he is the protector of that nation.
Ramonda (Angela Bassett) is T'Challa’s mother, but she’s also “one of the advisors that he would look to”. She helps him figure out what his father might have done if he were alive. She may not be right all the time, but she has good insight. According to Boseman, Ramonda has her hands in everything, including her son's love life! She’s the queen mother in “a very matriarchal society“, so she is valuable to the nation, as well.
As Wakanda’s undercover spy, Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) goes out into the world and reports back on what’s happening. Nyong'o refers to her character as “a war dog” and “a departure from what she was in the comic book”. She also happens to be the king’s former love interest.
In Black Panther, Nakia will use unique weapons called “ring blades“, which are seen in a couple of the photos in this article. While the blades are based on traditional African weaponry, Nakia will get a hi-tech upgrade later in the movie, thanks to the following character…
Shuri (Letitia Wright) is T'Challa's genius kid sister who runs the entire Wakandan design group. According to Feige:
She's responsible for all these amazing technological advances that Vibranium has brought about from Wakanda.
Okoye (Letitia Wright) is the head of the Dora Milaje. Generally a stoic presence, she’s guilt-ridden over the death of John Kani's T'Chaka as the movie opens. According to Gurira:
She can be serious, but she also has an unexpected sense of humor. She has a heart, but for her country and for her people. She's not a person who doesn't connect to human beings as a result of what she does.
Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) is one of the movie’s villains and an ally of Andy Serkis' Ulysses Klaue. According to Moore:
I think Killmonger has his own opinion on how Wakanda has been run and should be run, and what I think Michael brings to the table is sort of a charming antagonist who doesn't agree with how T'Challa is running things, frankly.
The EP suggests that Killmonger is “the voice of a different side of Wakanda”, which puts Boseman's character in a difficult situation.
W'Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) is T’Challa’s best friend. He’s also the head of security for the Border Tribe, which dwells along the border regions and serves as the nation's first line of defense. Moore says:
To outsiders, they appear to be what people would “expect” of a small, provincial African nation. But the truth is that they are some of the fiercest warriors in Wakanda, intent on protecting the secrets of their advanced nation at all costs.
After becoming king, T'Challa asks W’Kabi to join him as a palace advisor.
Zuri (Forest Whitaker) is a shaman, a longtime advisor to T'Chaka, and keeper of the Heart-Shaped Herb. According to Ryan Coogler:
He's somewhat a religious figure or spiritual figure. Spirituality is something that exists in Wakanda in the comics, and it's something we wanted to have elements of in the film. Forest's character, more than anything, is a major tie-back to T'Challa's father. Zuri is someone he looks to for guidance.
Check out the EW cover and photos below!