The overwhelming success of Spider-Man: Homecoming bodes well for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as it looks to pass the torch from its Phase One superheroes to the new class. But with everyone ready to anoint Spidey as the new face of the MCU, a young king named T’Challa is here to say, “Not so fast.”
The internet was slack-jawed when Marvel dropped the first Black Panther trailer in June. Our first glimpse at director Ryan Coogler’s kaleidoscopic take on the fictional African country of Wakanda featured some dazzling expository shots and a few thrilling action sequences featuring Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther and Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong‘o as badass bodyguards. But we didn’t learn much about the film’s finer points.
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Thankfully, Entertainment Weekly is here to shine a light on what’s quickly becoming the most-anticipated superhero movie of 2018. For the cover of its annual Comic-Con preview issue, EW assembled all of Black Panther’s major players, including Boseman as T'Challa (aka Black Panther), Nyong'o as Nakia, and Michael B. Jordan as the villainous Erik Kilmonger.
Inside, executive producer Nate Moore tells EW that the film will borrow elements from two titans of modern cinema, calling it a cross between The Godfather and the James Bond franchise. “It’s a big, operatic family drama centered on a world of international espionage. So hopefully we’re getting the best of both worlds.“
Unlike many of his Marvel counterparts, Coogler was tasked with creating an entirely new country with its own political hierarchy and power dynamics. “In this movie, a lot like politics, it’s a little tricky to define who’s [a good guy],” he tells EW. “The film very much plays with those concepts, looking at conflicts and different motivations, and who’s with who.”
The crux of those conflicts will center around T’Challa and Killmonger, who Jordan describes as a “dissident” and “aspiring prince” who has “colluded with a hostile foreign adversary in a bid to bring down the rightful heir to Wakanda’s throne.”
So is Black Panther meant as an allegory for the current state of things, or was that purely coincidental? Expect Coogler and co. to open up about that and much more when Marvel takes over Comic-Con this Saturday with a whopping 90-minute panel.
And to get yourself appropriately hyped, check out the rest of EW’s extensive Black Panther coverage here.