Black Panther: Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa


T’Challa/Black Panther

Prince T’Challa is primed to become the new King of Wakanda. Mourning the loss of his father, T’Challa’s claim to the throne is waylaid when villains outside the country pull him out of Wakanda and lead him on an adventure that spans the globe. Pushed to the limit and burdened with the fate of a nation, T’Challa must prevail by any means necessary or risk the lives of millions of Wakandans.

Although he was familiar with the Super Hero, the Black Panther comics really came on Chadwick Boseman’s radar with Reginald Hudlin’s iteration, which was first published in 2005.  So when presented with the opportunity to bring the title character to life as part of “Captain America: Civil War,” it was a thrill for the actor.

The subsequent positive audience response to the newest Super Hero in the MCU arsenal was swift, and the feedback excited Boseman, who was eager to show film audiences more of Black Panther’s story. Boseman says, “There was certainly been a lot of excitement about the opportunity to do a stand-alone movie based upon the way the character was set up in ‘Civil War.’ I feel like that was a success, and we left people with wanting more. I felt that excitement from outside, from people who saw the last movie, and I definitely felt like there was an excitement within Marvel too.”

Boseman offers what he finds compelling about his character. “T’Challa is smart. He’s a strategist and that has always been something that stood out to me, even in the comic books,” the actor says.  “He’s a world leader and with that comes the responsibility for an entire nation and considering its place in the world. That’s something that other Super Heroes don’t commonly have, but he must also uphold his legacy. It’s an interesting combination.”

For Boseman, a committed actor always looking for a substantive role, the opportunity to explore the duality of a conflicted ruler and Super Hero was an irresistible combination in a role. He offers, “There’s a lot of real-world conflict that you can bring to it. So you don’t feel like you’re just playing a guy in a suit. You’re playing a conflicted, well-rounded character. If you’re going to do a Super Hero, you want to do one where you can really act and where you can do something that’s going to make you a better artist as well. And I think, culturally speaking, that there are not a lot of opportunities to play a black Super Hero. It’s breaking new ground, and to be a part of that is a special thing.”

With an opportunity to show more about what makes Black Panther tick, director Ryan Coogler and Boseman had discussions about how the character could evolve in the new movie. “We tried to build on what was already there,” says Boseman. “You have the opportunity in this film to be more detailed than you were in the last one because in the other story Black Panther was a supporting character. In this he has to show a lot of different colors. We talked about what those colors were, and what were those different aspects of the character that we wanted to show.”

Even as Boseman jumped into the fray on “Civil War,” the Marvel team knew they had found their king.  Recalls executive producer Nate Moore, “From the beginning we knew that Black Panther needed to feel singular. Whoever we cast had to be somebody who was going to bring integrity to the role that felt different in tone to what a Robert Downey Jr. brings to Tony Stark, to what Chris Evans brings to Captain America, even with what Chris Hemsworth brings to Thor.”

He adds, “Chadwick is so prepared as an actor that he read all the comic books, and he came to us with a list of questions and had his own ideas about Wakanda. You realize very quickly this guy is not taking anything for granted and is fully invested in the role.”