Today’s Black Panther plot details were only part one of the coverage of the upcoming Marvel film.
Just before we get to see more from the film at D23 Expo and SDCC, a new royal portrait of the cast gives us more insight into these characters and what their motivations are in the film. Check out the photos below.
Entertainment Weekly has released the images for the film, which is now being described as a mix of The Godfather and James Bond. An exiled Killmonger, who has been driven out by his own family returns, with a new dangerous alliance to take back the throne, adding that sense of The Godfather to the MCU. And because the film takes place in Wakanda, audiences will be introduced to a nation that has remained hidden from the world until now. That globetrotting aspect has hints of 007 in it.
T’Challa aka Black Panther
Director Ryan Coogler says T’Challa is a politician first and a hero second. “What makes him different from other superheroes first and foremost is he doesn’t see himself as a superhero,” said Coogler. “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?’”
With political strife and a battle for the throne being a key plot point, it makes a lot of sense to put typical superhero tropes to the side and focus on the politics.
“He has to keep harmony between the tribes within his country, and that means managing expectations and doing things that are unpopular,” Coogler says. “At the same time, he is the protector of that nation.”
Angela Bassett plays Ramonda, T’Chaka’s husband, and T’Challa’s mother. As one of T’Challa’s advisers, she supports her son by giving him answers as to how his father would rule and what he would do in certain situations. Like all politicians, she isn’t always right, but as Coogler puts it, “she definitely has insights.”
“She’s has her hands in everything — even his love life,” joked Boseman.
Lupita Nyong’o is Nakia, a secret agent who protects Wakanda’s secrets and hunts down those who threaten to leak them out to the public. While the film is about the title character, the Dora Milaje, an elite bodyguard force composed of superior Wakandian women, plays a pivotal role in the film. She wields a pair of ring blades, which are considered to be traditional African weaponry. She will receive an upgrade later on in the movie.
“The one thing I will say about all the female characters in this movie is that they are very strong,” Boseman says. “It’s a very matriarchal society.” Nakia is also responsible for going out into the world and reporting back.
Shuri (Letitia Wright) is T’Challa’s younger sister. Black Panther producer and Marvel Studios’ president Kevin Feige describes her as a genius who runs the entire Wakandian design group. Basically, she is responsible for all of the Wakandian technological advances we see in the film. If this were James Bond, she would be the Q of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Her choice of weapons is two panther head shaped gauntlets, which probably do more than just punch.
The Walking Dead‘s Danai Gurira joins the MCU as Okoye, the head of the Dora Milaje. As the leader of the elite bodyguard force who is highly skilled in the art of combat, her job is to protect the kingdom from harm. While they are a force not to be reckoned with, Gurira says the Dora Milaje aren’t just an elite military group, but also responsible for gathering intel.
“She can be serious, but she also has an unexpected sense of humor,” Gurira says. “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.”
As previously reported, Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) is a dissident and an ambitious prince who seeks to claim the throne. He aligns himself with Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), a Vibranium arms dealer, to help him achieve that goal. EW compares the act of leaving the family to that of The Godfather. Executive producer Nate Moore tells the publication, “Killmonger has his own opinion on how Wakanda has been run and should 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.”
Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) plays W’Kabi, T’Challa’s friend and Wakanda’s head of security. He’s the first line of defense for the African nation, as it is his job to protect its borders. Now that T’Challa is king, W’Kabi will also act as a palace advisor.
Forest Whitaker plays Zuri, a shaman who was a longtime advisor to T’Challa’s father and the keeper of the heart-shaped herb. This heart-shaped herb is enriched with Vibranium minerals and gives anyone who consumes it superhuman powers.
Coogler says Zuri is “somewhat a religious figure or spiritual figure,” and one that will provide guidance to T’Challa in his time of need. The director also added spirituality is something that exists within the nation of Wakanda and it was something that we wanted to expand upon in the film.
Black Panther opens in theaters on February 16, 2017.