Chadwick Boseman talks "big deal" BLACK PANTHER's "grittier" tone and exploring the character

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Back in the Golden and Silver Ages of comics, the two biggest publishers, Marvel and DC, both had very distinct art styles used by their in-house artists. The Marvel Style or DC Style became a real thing. And decades later, we’re seeing this happening again, but this time its playing out on the big screen. Under the stylistic guidance of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman director Zack Snyder, DC’s cinematic universe has been very brooding and grim operatic affairs, whereas Marvel Studios has fully embraced the snarky, quip-friendly poppy style first trailblazed by Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man.

But times they are a-changing. We’ve already seen DC apparently lightening up considerably for the upcoming Justice League, and according to a new report, Marvel may now be going a bit darker. The news of this stylistic shift for Marvel comes from CBR who spoke to Chadwick Boseman, who recently made his debut as Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War. And while that film and its predecessor, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, were already easily the most grim of Marvel’s films, Boseman indicates that the upcoming Black Panther solo movie may actually be taking it even further.

“It’s funny, because on one hand, the Marvel movies that I’ve liked the most are the ones that are funny. I love “Ant-Man.” But for me, most of the time the darker superhero movies are the ones that I gravitate towards, that I love the most. So I’m glad that I’m not in an “Ant-Man.” I’m glad that the tone of [“Black Panther”] may be a little grittier. I just wanted to establish that from the beginning, that that’s what we were doing. That that’s what I intend to do. I feel like we’ll end up in a place that I’ve always wanted to be when I look at superhero movies. Those are the ones I like the most. It’s exciting to do that.”

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While I’ve always enjoyed the witty banter in Marvel movies, I do feel that a more serious tone is the best approach to take with certain characters. Black Panther has never been anything close to a laugh-a-minute character in the comics. Instead he’s all about regal grace, honourable actions and animalistic power. Boseman showed off all of those things magnificently  in Civil War, which is what excites me so much about seeing him expand on that in a solo movie. It will also allow fans who are not familiar with the character to discover much more about him, like the merciful side he displayed when sparing Baron Zemo from committing suicide even though he had killed Black Panther’s father.

“I feel like you get a chance to see that he’s not going to be a selfish ruler. He’s not going to be a dictator. He’s not going to be a person that does things purely for his own gain. That he does have a heroic aspect at the heart of a hero; of a leader. You can pull for him, because he’s merciful. And it leaves room also for him to do things that are not necessarily perfect.

A few people have said to me, “I thought you were a villain at first.” They didn’t have the prior history of the character. And they enjoyed that. They thought I was going to end up being a villain. That’s telling to me. I feel like it’s a good thing that we were able to create that context where he’s going after things for his own reasons, not necessarily good or bad, but ultimately that you can create something that is universally good — that merciful aspect — I think is a good thing for the character.”

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As some of you may know, Black Panther is a historic comic book title, as it’s the first American superhero comic to ever feature a black superhero headlining it. It’s also going to be the first Marvel movie headlined by a black actor/character. What’s more, it will feature a black director in Ryan “Creed” Coogler, as well as a black villain in Michael B. Jordan, and a predominantly black support cast. This is definitely a landmark movie for the studio, and Boseman is definitely aware of its importance.

“I feel the energy. The image itself opens people’s minds up. You can talk about it all you want, you can have it in a comic book, you can even do an animated series, but when you see real people doing it, it changes something inside of you. It’s going to be a big deal because there’s not just Black people or people of African descent that want to see it, I think everybody wants to see it. That’s the beautiful thing. I truly believe there are more people who want to see it than don’t want to see it, especially after being here.”

Oh we definitely want to see this!

Black Panther is scheduled for release on July 6, 2018.

Last Updated: September 7, 2016

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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