Black Panther

In the two years since we met Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War, we’ve only grown more eager to get to know him. And when we spoke with Chadwick Boseman on the set of Black Panther in early 2017, he sounded pretty eager to show the world what T’Challa’s made of.

As we saw in Civil War, T’Challa is a hero burdened by grief and responsibility. But Black Panther also shows him as a loving brother, a devoted son, and a loyal friend. He is even, occasionally, a guy who cracks some jokes.

Which suits Boseman just fine. He likes a “challenge” in his projects, he told our group of reporters – and the role of a young conflicted king offers plenty of meat in that regard.

Note: This was a group interview conducted in a press conference format with assembled journalists.

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So does T’Challa feel more like a king or more like Black Panther?

At the beginning of this movie, I think neither. Neither. He’s been Black Panther before, but I would say at the beginning of this movie he’s dealing with – it’s shortly after Civil War has ended, so he’s still mourning. There’s unrest in Wakanda. So what he’s dealing with is being the king, is making the transition to filling the footsteps of his father. So it’s probably going to feel like it’s more about the political unrest than the superhero, initially. I don’t know if that answers your question or not.

What’s the learning curve for going from being Black Panther or just being Wakandan royalty to becoming the king?

He’s been prepared for it his whole life. He’s groomed, so to speak, to do it. I think it’s just the mental transition and it does not help that – like, if his father had decided that he was going to step down, I’m too old, I can’t do it anymore, then that would be a different scenario. But because he died in the last movie, I think the transition has to do with that mourning process. He’s been groomed to do it.

Is approaching this role different than working on Civil War? I’m curious if there is kind of a deeper understanding that you’re getting out of the character, versus when you were first preparing originally?

I mean, yeah, obviously. Not to say that there wasn’t a deep understanding, but some of the things that we came to an understanding of we couldn’t show in the last one, so it gives it a chance to marinate. And those certain things that we were unsure about, now we’re 100% sure about. Like even down to accent and how you walk, or what his sense of humor is, which actually develops more in this movie because in the last movie he was pretty focused on what he had to do so there was no time to make any jokes. But in this one, you’re sort of seeing him around in his more natural environment and around people that he knows. So you are different according to the people you are around.

What’s the fall out for T’Challa, both personally and from the rest of Wakanda, for not taking vengeance? Because it was obviously a very conscious decision, it was a major decision for him to not take vengeance there in Civil War for his father.

The fallout?

Yeah. What can you say about it, both internally for T’Challa and then just kind of how other people are viewing that?

Fallout is a really strong word, but maybe that’s because it’s me. You don’t want to criticize yourself. But anytime a leader dies, to be general and not give away story, there’s going to be political unrest. And the fact that it’s not unlike our world, where you will have one political party sort of – not to be specific about that – one political party sort of point the finger at someone for being soft or not being tough enough when it comes to their foreign policy or that type of thing. So that would be the best way to describe it. But is it complete unrest where he can’t overcome it? I wouldn’t go that far.

For him internally, do you feel that T’Challa is comfortable with the choice he made?

The choice he made in Civil War? Yes. I think he is comfortable with the final choice, that final choice. Yes.

When T’Challa showed up in Civil War, the fan reaction was just so huge. Did seeing that reaction, how excited people were over getting to meet this character, impact how you approached this movie in anyway?

No. No. Because I’m not saying I expected the fan reaction to be what it was, but to a certain degree, I’m unaware of the fan reaction. That’s number one. [Looks at journalist] He’s like – you don’t believe me.

I don’t want to believe you. The #BlackPantherSoLit hashtag.

Yeah, see … I see it, you know, I see certain things. But I see it in a different way because it’s important for me to not look at everything that’s happening, so I see it because some stuff is impossible to not see. But there’s a certain removal I have to have from it in order to play it, because you have people saying, It’s got to have this or It’s got to have that. And if I was to follow their thoughts from the last one, it would’ve been a lot of stuff that was wrong. So I think you kind of have to stay in it in a way, where your decisions are made based upon the things that are organic. There’s a lot of storytellers here. All of the different departments are all storytellers.

And so you’re collaborating with them more so than you can the audience. You are collaborating with the audience, but it’s not like – if I was doing a play and I’m onstage with somebody and the audience responds, we get that direct [snaps]. I know that that worked because you responded to it. But between blogs and this and that and journalists, it’s like, you can’t really put your foot in that. So I would say no. It’s the fact that now, in this case, you have a new director that’s building on the steps of previous directors, and writers and new writers. It’s the baby of Stan Lee and [Kevin] Feige. There’s so many other factors that come into play, various different writers and various different versions of the character, so it’s a lot of stuff to put in that you are being influenced by.

How did collaborating with Ryan [Coogler] shape the way you saw Black Panther and his story? Did you look at the character differently after he came onboard and you started talking about the character? Did it refine the way you look at him?

I think we have very similar views anyway. That’s one of the reasons why – it’s like, they put us together – like, have you ever dated somebody and somebody was like, you’re really going to like this person? It’s kind of like that. So we have very similar views about what things should be like and the things that we usually have a difference of opinion about, it’s so minute what those differences are, that I think it’s more of a growth because there’s nobody battling you. We’re constantly building on each other, so it’s been a good marriage so far.

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