'Captain America: Civil War' Interview: Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther Has The Worst Costume

The newest superhero in Captain America: Civil War is Black Panther, played by 42 and Get On Up star Chadwick Boseman. The comic book character is getting his own movie later on Marvel's future slate, but his introduction happens in this sequel as a sort of middle ground between Captain America and Iron Man, even though he ultimately sides with the latter in this conflict.

However, Boseman isn't exactly a superhero when we meet him in this movie, even though he's a Black Panther, a title that has been passed down through his ancestors. Boseman is the leader of Wakanda, a politician and monarch, and with his own country's safety potentially at risk from the kind of destruction we saw in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, it's easy to see why he's drawn into this conflict.

In our interview with Chadwick Boseman from the set of Civil War, we talk about his role in this epic conflict, his Wakandan accent, and just how miserable and hot he is when he has to put on the Black Panther suit, which his fellow cast members agree is just the worst. Find out all of that and more in out Captain America Civil War interview with Chadwick Boseman.

New Cat on the Block

As a new character, we're meeting Black Panther, or rather T'Challa, for the first time, but that doesn't mean this is an origin story. Boseman explains, "I'm just kind of thrown into the middle. It's definitely not an origin story, no. It's not an origin story. You meet me as the Prince of Wakanda. You meet me as a politician/monarch, not as a superhero."

But even though we're meeting him as the ruler of his own country, that doesn't mean we're going to actually see it yet. Boseman says, "I know you thought you were because of Age of Ultron, but it's not happening." We will get to hear what his Wakandan accent sounds like though.

Joe Russo complimented Boseman's work to bring the character to life, saying, "He found a regional accent based on where Wakanda would be. Just an incredible, intense amount of detail." Anthony Russo added, "He did great research on the very cultural aspects of the character. Even though it's a fictional cultural, figuring out ways to tether it into real African culture." Producer Nate Moore compared it to the creation of Sokovia and the accent that Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver had in Age of Ultron.

There were even things that Boseman wanted to bring into the character that weren't already in the script or even in the comic books. However, he was reluctant to get into specifics for fear of the wrath of Marvel, mostly because it sounds like these are details we won't get to see until his own movie is in front of cameras:

There are definitely things that I think will show up more so later. I shouldn't say that they're not in the comic books, because they've been written by several different writers: [Jack] Kirby, Stan Lee, Christopher Priest — all of the writers have come up with different aspects of who he is. So you could take different things from each one, and they don't contradict each other necessarily. The principals and essence of who he is are still there. He's a little cooler in some of them. In Christopher Priest's version, he doesn't trust anybody, you know what I'm saying? All of it is good stuff to use. There's a sense of him searching for himself in some of the ones in the '80s, which I think is really good. I don't know what's going to happen, but I think a lot of those things are good things to put into a movie.

Black Panther Isn't a Superhero Exactly

What's interesting about Black Panther is that all this culture and background not only informs who he is as a person, but also as a "superhero." Boseman is hesitant to call him a superhero because that's not how he's seen in his country. The actor explains:

I think the difference in him is that he's a ruler of a country. That's the difference. I wouldn't even call him a superhero. In the mythology of the country, he's not a superhero. He's a warrior, and it's part of their tradition. It's not like he's like, "Who is that masked guy that's doing this stuff?" Everybody knows it's him, and they expect that it's him, and they pray to God, or even him in some cases, that he would do the things that he's doing. Which is much different than most of the superheroes in which you don't know their identity and you don't know when they might show up. There's an expectation that's much different. So that's the main difference.

So Black Panther's role in this fight is less about choosing sides as a hero whose loyal to one side or the other, and more about doing what's best for his country. But he still has to hold his own against some pretty heavy-hitting superheroes, and it sounds like Boseman has been up to the task of training to make his character stand out in the big battles.

On the next page, find out about Black Panther's fighting style and why everyone, including himself, thinks his outfit in the movie is just terrible.

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Black Panther Fights Like No Other Superhero in the MCU

When we talked to Chadwick Boseman about Black Panther's abilities, he couldn't say much, only saying, "He's not the strongest. He's not necessarily the fastest, but he's strong and he's fast. He has a wit, a wisdom and a plan — an overarching plan — that a lot of times you don't necessarily see. So it's his strategy during a fight or during a battle."

It wasn't until the next day that we got to see Black Panther in action, and he has a very animalistic fighting style, flipping, jumping and clawing like the fierce jungle cat for which he is named. Producer Nate Moore said that fighting style was something Boseman came up with himself:

Chad brings a certain movement. And it's through his own experience with the martial arts that we hadn't really talked about. And the first day on set we were like, "Oh. Well, that's kind of interesting." He has a very kind of slick cat-like walk that does feel like Kabuki trying to be a cat but is very much his own thing.

Joe Russo echoes those sentiments, saying, "He's got a movement style that he brought because he has a background in martial arts and it's fascinating. He moves like none of the other characters in the universe. We really distinguished him." In fact, echoing what Robert Downey Jr. said about Boseman's arrival being a big deal, Joe Russo also said that his arrival on this particular day, which was the first time the cast and crew got to see him in full costume, was met with quite the reception:

Today was the first day that the character worked in costume, and when he came out on set there were some comic book fans who were just tearing up. It's a real moment for people to see this character for the first time on screen. People who grew up and championed this character as kids and was a role model for them, their favorite hero. The sense of that as a comic book fan, there was historic nature of getting him on screen for the first time. He's playing the character with a real intensity and a real grace.

The Black Panther Suit Is Hot, Not in a Good Way

The bad news is that no matter how excited people were to see Black Panther suited up for the first time on set, the experience isn't quite as enjoyable in the moment for Chadwick Boseman. Even when asked about putting on the costume for the first time, Boseman didn't hesitate saying, "It's hot. It's blazing hot. Listen, it's so hot. I've never been that hot before in my life, seriously." We tried to ask about the process of putting it on to get an idea of everything he's wearing, but Boseman said, "I can't tell you that. I can't tell you that because I don't want you picturing how it happens. It's not cute."

Even co-stars Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen chimed in without prompt in their interview about how bad Boseman has it in the Black Panther outfit. Olsen said, "He has the worst costume, Black Panther." Renner added right away, "It's the worst of any Marvel character... Cap would complain about his cowl and it's like dude, he's got three on! Terrible, sweating – if it takes you 30 minutes to go to the bathroom, that's a problem."

We didn't see Boseman in the full suit until just before we left the set, but we did watch his stunt double in the suit during one of the fight scenes with the Winter Soldier, and you can see why the suit is notorious for being awful. There's a team of a few people whose job it is just to quickly get the head gear off so they can use tiny electric fans and water to cool him off. That suit is probably hot in general, but in the sweltering heat of Atlanta, Georgia, it has to be positively unbearable.

You can read our entire interview with Chadwick Boseman on the last page.

Captain America Civil War - Black Panther

So how do you fit into this movie? Is this is an origin story for you, or do they just kind of throw you into the middle of it?

Chadwick Boseman: I'm just kind of thrown into the middle. It's definitely not an origin story, no. It's not an origin story.

So how do you factor in then? When we meet you, are you already Black Panther?

Boseman: You meet me as the Prince of Wakanda. You meet me as a politician/monarch, not as a superhero.

So we'll see that transformation in this film maybe?

Boseman: It's not necessarily a transformation. I am just thrown into the mix. To answer your question, yes, I am already a Black Panther — a Black Panther, yeah.

Do we get to see Wakanda at all?

Boseman: No. Sorry. I know you thought you were because of Age of Ultron, but... [Laughs.] It's not happening.

Is there a Wakandan accent, or do you just speak in your regular voice?

Boseman: Can I answer that? Yes! Yeah, there's a Wakandan accent.

What was it like putting on the costume for the first time?

Boseman: It's hot. It's blazing hot. Listen, it's so hot. I've never been that hot before in my life, seriously.

Is it all one piece, or is it a multiple-step process to get into it?

Boseman: I can't tell you that. [Laughs.] I can't tell you that because I don't want you picturing how it happens. It's not cute.

You're in this movie obviously with all the other people playing costumed characters that they've already established. Were they able to give you any pointers, whether that be about dealing with the heat of the suit or just jumping into this world altogether?

Boseman: You know what, I don't think there's any way for anybody to prepare you for this. I just think people have been very gracious and welcoming in welcoming me on set, and even off set. What was more important was, you know, Chris [Evans] has been very cool in terms of inviting me to stuff and giving me a hard time in the best way. His sense of humor is great. Robert Downey has been great as well, Anthony [Mackie] – everybody. Everybody's been cool. Don Cheadle. So I've seen a lot of them separate from being here, so it didn't feel like when I got here it was like all of a sudden meeting them for the first time. I think that's what's weird, is when you step on the set and all of a sudden — you know, I've worked with really great actors before, but there's always a certain amount of nervous energy, just because you don't know these people, so yeah.

You've had a recent run of playing iconic figures in history, like James Brown and Jackie Robinson. What's appealing about someone like Black Panther as a fictional character?

Boseman: That he's fictional. [Laughs.] That's the main thing. I don't have to — not that I didn't like doing this. I loved interacting with the family members, the Brown family members, the Robinson family members. But in this case, I don't have to go talk to the Queen of Wakanda. [Laughs.]

But you do have that expectation of knowing about the comic book character. So how much research did you do, or were you already totally familiar?

Boseman: No, I was not totally familiar. I think what you try to do is just get your hands on every single comic book you can find that has the character in it, or him being mentioned or anything. I've just tried to read them all — not like it's really work. It is work — don't get me wrong — it is work, but it's just sort of reading them like a kid, you know? Because when you just read it like it's work, you're just trying to get through it. So I think it's putting yourself in that mind frame to go through the mythology in a fun way. And then, also, I've gone to South Africa, gone to some places, to see some things that I think relate to the character, and let those things sort of fuel your workouts, fuel your sessions when you work on the part.

Did you read a lot of comic books as a kid, and if so who were some of your favorites?

Boseman: I didn't, I didn't. I wasn't a comic book geek as a kid. I read some, but it was just like, "Oh, I have this comic book here." It wasn't like I was collecting them. I didn't really collect much of anything — baseball cards, nothing. I had some of them too, but I wasn't a collector. But this has been a much more aggressive intake of that material. It is interesting too because it's different than watching the films, different than reading a novel or anything else. It's a different way to — I think it helps you a lot as a filmmaker because the exposition and things that happen in a film are done much differently than they are in a comic book, but some things do coincide. So I think it helps you as an artist.

So what separates your character from some of the other heroes that we've seen in terms of abilities, weapons, that kind of thing?

Boseman: I can't say, if you're talking about his abilities. He's not the strongest, you know what I'm saying? He's not necessarily the fastest, but he's strong and he's fast. He has a wit, a wisdom and a plan — an overarching plan — that a lot of times you don't necessarily see. So it's his strategy during a fight or during a battle, and it's not just him that I think is the — as far as the comic book goes, I think that's different. As far as this movie, you know, this is an introduction to the character.

Do you see a lot of action in this movie?

Boseman: I see a fair share, I see a fair share... I think the difference in him is that he's a ruler of a country. That's the difference. I wouldn't even call him a superhero. In the mythology of the country, he's not a superhero. He's a warrior, and it's part of their tradition. It's not like he's like, "Who is that masked guy that's doing this stuff?" Everybody knows it's him, and they expect that it's him, and they pray to God, or even him in some cases, that he would do the things that he's doing. Which is much different than most of the superheroes in which you don't know their identity and you don't know when they might show up. There's an expectation that's much different. So that's the main difference.

You said that you pretty aggressively took in Black Panther in order to get ready for the role. Was there any particular story arc of his that you really related to?

Boseman: See, I knew somebody was going to ask that question, and the answer is "yes," but I'm not going to tell you which one, because if I tell you which one, you're going to say, "Oh, that's what the Black Panther movie is going to be about." So the answer is "yes" and "none a' ya business." [Laughs.]

Have the events of the previous movies weighed on the way this character sees the world? Is he sort of like, "Hey remember when that country went into the sky?" What is his awareness of that?

Boseman: He's aware of the Avengers, absolutely, yeah.

What's his perception of them as far as how their existence and the destruction that usually comes with them being heroes has affected his country and his people?

Boseman: Clever. That's very clever of you. [Laughs.] I think as far as — because you're referring to the comic book — he sees both sides of the coin. He sees both sides. It's necessary to stop crime and to protect your country. He understands that, because that's what he has to do. But there's a way to do it that is the best way. Like if it was the Art of War, it would be like, how can you inflict less pain? How can fewer people die and still win the war? He's a tactician. He's a strategist, so he appreciates that thought process. So it's both sides.

Would you say then he is sort of the middle ground between Captain America and Iron Man?

Boseman: He's definitely a middle ground at this point, yeah.

You mentioned he's a ruler, he's a politician as well, and we know from Avengers: Age of Ultron now there are people who know about Wakanda. Is Wakanda known throughout the whole world, or is it still a secretive society?

Boseman: Wakanda is known to the world, yes. [Laughs.]

Now, when you said we first meet you as the ruler of Wakanda –

Boseman: I did say that.

Will we get to meet any of his family or guards or anyone of that nature in this movie, or is that going to be saved for your movie?

Boseman: Ah... you gotta wait. I'm sorry. All being saved for...

You mentioned this was the introduction to your character. How do the events of this film inform Black Panther's solo film?

Boseman: Well, just in a basic way. You're seeing him in the larger scheme of things, like fighting outside of his country. So it will definitely affect what you see later. That's all I can say. [Laughs.]

On that note, I think this is the first time we've seen a Marvel movie introduce a major character in another film knowing that afterwards there will also be a solo film for him.

Boseman: Is it?

I think so, yeah.

Boseman: Wow, I feel special.

[Laughs.] But I'm curious about what you feel makes this story right for introducing Black Panther. Do you see any advantages for being introduced in this way and being able to burn the character in a supporting role before headlining your own film as the star?

Boseman: Yeah, absolutely. Like if I was doing my own comedy show on HBO or something, in most cases I would go do standup at The Comedy Store in LA or some local spot, and I would gear up to do that. So when you see Thor, you know, "Who's going to be Thor?" that's a rough way to do it. It's much better to — and particularly, in this case, a lot of people don't know who Black Panther is. So I think they're really smart to introduce him and let people know, "Oh, yeah, this guy was one of the major comic book characters. He was part of the Avengers." That history is important for people to get before you have a standalone movie. So I think it's the best way to do it, absolutely.

Is there anything that you wanted to write into the character that wasn't in the comic book originally?

Boseman: Yes, and I'm not answering that. [Laughs.] Yeah, there are definitely things that I think will show up more so later. I shouldn't say that they're not in the comic books, because they've been written by several different writers: Kirby, Stan Lee, Christopher Priest — all of the writers have come up with different aspects of who he is. So you could take different things from each one, and they don't contradict each other necessarily. The principals and essence of who he is are still there. He's a little cooler in some of them. In Christopher Priest's version, he doesn't trust anybody, you know what I'm saying? All of it is good stuff to use. There's a sense of him searching for himself in some of the ones in the '80s, which I think is really good. I don't know what's going to happen, but I think a lot of those things are good things to put into a movie.

How do you interact with characters like Tony Stark or Steve Rogers? As a prince, do you look at them as equals, or should these guys take orders from you?

Boseman: [Laughs.] That's a good question. I would say it's both. There's always going to be a sense, like if you're a monarch, that you — it's not a superiority, but I could always call rank if I have my own country, you know? [Laughs.] There's a space in which I rule. If I'm not in that space, it's much different though. We're not in Wakanda, as I said, and all is fair in love and war. Things become equal in war. If you're not an officer on one side or the other, you can't really pull rank.

It was quite awhile from when they announced that you were Black Panther to you guys filming this. So did the anticipation keep building, or did you just get to a point where you were like, "Just put me in the suit, man"?

Boseman: No, I have not gotten to the point where I've said, "Just put me in the suit," because that suit is hot! [Laughs.] Once you're in it, you're ready, but once I realized how hot that suit was going to be, I've not said that one time.

[Laughs.] Introducing him in this movie to get audiences more used to Black Panther, does this mean that when you do get into the Black Panther movie it won't be an origin, that you can take off running? Or will they still need to explain more about Black Panther, like his abilities and things?

Boseman: I can't really answer that question — not because I'm trying to be dodgy or anything — but anything is possible in film, because flashbacks. Like, you never know. I can't answer that, because there's no script. So it's just best to say, "I don't know." [Laughs.]

But you assume that Black Panther the movie takes place after Civil War. You assume it's not set in the past.

Boseman: I don't think you can assume anything, because there's also such a thing as a prequel also. I think anything is possible.