‘Black Panther’ Set Visit: Everything We Learned on Set

Black Panther

The Dora Milaje Are a Force to Be Reckoned With

With so many antagonists gunning for him, it’s a good thing T’Challa also has plenty of allies. Unusually for the genre, a lot of them are women.

For starters, there’s the Dora Milaje, an elite force of female warriors led by Okoye (Danai Gurira). In the comics, they double as a pool of potential wives for the Wakandan ruler; Moore told us that aspect wouldn’t be part of the movie because it’s “a little creepy.”

One of those soldiers is Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), a “war dog” who travels around the world undercover, reporting back to her homeland to help keep it safe.

It’s worth pointing out here that even the Dora Milaje aren’t immune to political conflict. Nyong’o hinted that her character could find herself torn between her country and her ruler, while Boseman revealed that the soldiers aren’t afraid to challenge their king.

T’Challa Relies on His Royal Family

T’Challa’s close to his remaining family as well, including his mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett), who offers counsel. And he’s got a special place in his heart for his teenage sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), who helps him to loosen up a bit.

She, in turn, has a very important role to play in his battle – she’s the head of the Wakandan design group, and is the one responsible for all of the most recent upgrades to his Black Panther suit. If T’Challa’s the jet-setting Bond, think of her as the Q.

All of these women, from T’Challa’s sister to his soldiers, are more than capable of handling themselves. That is to say, none of them are damsel-in-distress types. “That doesn’t exist in this movie,” said Boseman. “All these characters are strong. Even if it’s not a physical prowess, there is a mental prowess.”

Black Panther

Black Panther Is a True Standalone (Or So They Claim)

With so much happening in and around Wakanda, you may be wondering how the rest of the MCU factors into the movie. The short answer is that it doesn’t. “There are so many characters in the Black Panther world that we wanted to explore, we didn’t want to rely on cameos from other movies,” said Moore.

The producer added that it was “safe to assume” there would be no appearance by the Winter Soldier, despite the fact that the character has been in Wakanda since the end of Captain America: Civil War.

Still, Black Panther is part of the MCU, and that means the possibility of a connection is always there. Moore conceded that although Black Panther was conceived as a standalone film, it could make some “ripples” that affect other MCU storylines later on. (And with Avengers: Infinity War just around the corner, we’re not gonna rule anything out.)

Black Panther Is Inherently Political

As for how Black Panther connects with the rest of our world, Moore acknowledges that the very premise of the movie is “inherently political.”

“Just the idea of Wakanda being a nation in Africa that is the most technologically advanced in the world is a political statement without us having to go too much far past that,” he said. The film also draws inspiration from cultures all over the African continent, making Black Panther what Moore describes as “a love letter to Africa, which you don’t get to see a lot on film.”

(In the MCU version of world history, Moore explained, the influence worked the other way – Wakandans were among the first people, and as they spread to other regions, so did their culture.)

That said, Moore noted, Black Panther isn’t exactly a message movie – just a relevant one. “In the same way that Captain America: Winter Soldier, without, hopefully, being too textual, was talking about issues that we were all talking about in defense and information-gathering, I think Black Panther will have similar echoes of what’s happening.”

Yes, the Black Panther Folks Know About #BlackPantherSoLit

If all of this is just getting you more pumped for Black Panther, rest assured your expressions of excitement make their way back to the team. Even Boseman, who purposely tries to distance himself from the conversation, acknowledged that he’s seen it.

Nyong’o was more emphatic, saying wryly that “you’d have to be blind not to see” conversations like #BlackPantherSoLit. “It’s a lot of pressure on us,” she said. More so, even, than her other big Disney franchise. Asked whether Star Wars or Black Panther was more intense, Nyong’o immediately chose the latter.

Moore is well aware that the #BlackPantherSoLit hashtag has been burning up on social media, and he couldn’t be more thrilled. “It gets us excited when people are excited. We don’t take that for granted,” he said. “So when people get as excited as they were getting for Panther, we were like, ‘Oh, we’re on the right track. This is great!’ It’s heartening for us.”

So keep tweeting – you never know who might be looking. Besides, we’ve still got 22 days to go. We’re going to need something to occupy our time.

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