The filmmakers of Marvel’s Black Panther gathered an enviable ensemble of pedigreed cast, led by Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger and Lupita Nyong’o as
Producer Kevin Feige comments, “It’s great to be able to delve into the world of Wakanda, see Black Panther’s lineage and heritage and meet these amazing, rich characters that surround him. To bring them to life, we put together a phenomenal cast. They are among the best that we’ve ever assembled.”
Chadwick Boseman: 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.
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.”
Jordan had already been mentally in the game from the second he heard Marvel Studios was developing the “Black Panther” project. “I was very familiar with Black Panther. As a kid I always wanted to be the Black Panther. He was a character that I always looked up to and admired my whole life, so it’s pretty amazing to get to be part of the story for the big screen.”
Director Ryan Coogler and the filmmakers knew that Jordan would prove to be a strong foil to Boseman. As a new foe to Wakanda, Killmonger’s designs on the throne would set an immediate and inherent tension in motion between the two men which sets the stage for the emotional crux of Black Panther.
Lupita Nyong’o: Nakia is a War Dog, a Wakandan spy often imbedded in countries outside of Wakanda to observe and report back. She must decide whether she should be guided by her duty to her nation or her feelings for T’Challa.
Describing Nakia, Nyong’o says, “Nakia is a bit of a rebel but also a loyalist to her country. She is in conflict with some of the ideals of her nation and wants to go her own way, but she is also really eager to serve the country she loves so much. She and T’Challa, now that he is King, are at odds as to what way forward is best for the nation. But they also have some history together, so they have to come to terms with that and figure out how to forge ahead.”
Nyong’o states that she could identify with Nakia’s free spirit and her independence. “I love a woman who goes her own way and is independent, and I am also really someone who depends on my family and friends and feels a connection to my people, and maybe has a sense of responsibility to ‘make them proud.’ So I really related to that balancing act within oneself,” concludes the actor.