If you’re familiar with Marvel’s “Civil War” comic book story arc, then you know that Spider-Man plays a very important role as the proverbial third wheel, so to speak, in the testy relationship between Captain America and Iron Man as they go to war with each other over conflicting ideological beliefs. And if you had watched the recently released trailer for upcoming film adaptation Captain America: Civil War then you would probably have noticed a complete lack of Spider-Man, even though we know Tom Holland will be making his debut in the movie as the wall crawler.
What you would have seen though, is the very badass introduction of Chadwick Boseman as Prince T’Chala aka Black Panther, the hero and ruler of the technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda. Not that any of his backstory was evident as he did awesome things like outrun Cap.
His physical abilities is not the only reason why Marvel decided to include him in this story though. Before the momentous co-producing deal struck between Marvel and Sony earlier in the year, Marvel was not allowed to use Spider-Man in their movies. Hence why Black Panther was introduced instead as a proxy of sorts to stand between the two Avengers. Something he does very literally in the new cover* for the latest issue of EW, in which Executive producer Nate Moore explained that in this coming conflict, he considers T’Challa “the undecided voter”..
“He’s someone who hasn’t necessarily made up his mind about either side and whose agenda isn’t exactly what Cap’s agenda or what Tony’s agenda is. And I think that brings him into conflict weirdly with both characters at different times in the film. He is the prince of an African nation that has so far stayed very much sort of in the shadows. And eventually the film will draw him and his father out of the shadows.”
The father Moore is referring to is T’Chaka, the King of Wakanda, and in the comics, the previous Black Panther. Historically, the title is one that is passed down from father to son in the royal family, with the inheritor becoming the protector of his people, and having to adhere to certain traditions. But T’Challa is not quite his father’s son, as Boseman explains.
“There definitely is a sort of tradition that he’s torn between, in terms of how things were done in the past and how things need to happen now in this new world. I think there’s perhaps a bit of a maverick there, and then there’s also a need to live up to traditions and his father’s legacy. And not even his father’s legacy, but the entire nation of Wakanda. I think those are the things you will see.”
That dichotomy of views is something that will be explored throughout the film overall, as Cap himself, Chris Evans, explained.
“In most of the movies, there’s no question who we should be siding with. We all agree Nazis are bad, aliens from space are bad. But this movie’s the first time where you really have two points of view. It becomes a question of morality and I don’t think [Cap] has ever been so uncertain with what right and wrong is.”
Moore also added that this T’Challa we meet in the movies, is not the same T’Challa we have been reading about in the comics for the last few years.
“In publishing, he is sort of this very wise and a sanguine figure who seems to know more than he lets on,. I think this is Black Panther in his younger years, where he maybe is a little bit more fiery than I think how they write him in the comics because he’s very much in the nascent stages of being a hero. So that means he is probably more fallible than the Black Panther that you read in comics, but for reasons that are completely logical.”
Boseman added that his Black Panther is also not the same personality type you’ve come to expect from the normal wisecracking Marvel heroes, especially if you’re expecting another Tony Stark-like ladies man.
“He’s definitely not the life of the party in this instance. I think this is something true of the comic book character and the movie. You never quite know where he stands. There’s always a bit of concealing and mystery. So I think mysterious is more his boat. Not to say there’s not charm and he can’t be a ladies’ man and all that. It’s more like if there is humor, it’s more like James Bond.”
And speaking of heroes with highly advanced gadgets, one of Black Panther’s best assets is the technology of the secretive Wakanda, which is years ahead of anything else in the world thanks to their massive deposits of ultra-rare vibranium – the nearly miraculous metal which was also used to construct Captain America’s shield. And which, as directors Joe and Anthony Russo revealed, is also used in one of their crowning technological achievements: the metallic Black Panther suit. Yes, metallic, which prevents some interesting new visual challenges to the filmmaking brothers.
“Panther is a cool character and he has a toughness, and a sort of intimidation factor with his costume. We’re experimenting with how the light catches the costume.”
“It has a sheen because its a weave of the strongest metal in this fictional universe.”
“It’s like medieval chain mail, woven extremely thin. It’s not comparable to any other costumes in the universe.”
All of which made for a very uncomfortable wearing experience for Boseman who wondered “How in the world am I gonna move and act and respond in this?”. He gritted it out though, because the payoff for the costume in the story was totally worth it.
“As far as the storytelling is concerned, the vibranium is a metal that is dynamic. It can change how it’s used. It’s not a liquid, but it has the ability to change shape and change form and still have its strength. I think there a lot of things about that in the mythology that I think has a lot of potential in terms of the storytelling.”
“t’s not just about being durable, it has the ability to absorb energy. It’s not just like you hit it and it doesn’t take it. It has the ability to absorb the attack of another person and repel or respond to that attack. That’s part of the power.”
Besides for his high-tech suits and gadgets, what makes the Black Panther so formidable is that he’s also an incredibly gifted warrior trained in all types of fighting styles since infancy. Fighting styles that do not only have him striking cat poses, you know.
“There are some animal forms, but not just cat. He could be a snake, or various different styles. Obviously there’s an opportunity to do some capoeira. The key with T’Challa is to keep everybody on their toes. It’s to do the thing that is surprising, that you wouldn’t expect. So there’s a lot of agility and a lot of, like, ‘Why did he do that? Oh now I know why he did that. He was gonna come over here after he did that.’ I wouldn’t say he’s a ninja, but he does employ some of those aspects as well.”
In other words, expect one hell of a fist fight between him and Cap!
Captain America: Civil War releases on May 6, 2016.
*I have to add that that cover is one of the most ridiculous things EW has ever done. “Meow”? “Has claws that a real housewife would envy”? WHAT THE HELL, EW?! WHAT THE HELL?!
Last Updated: December 4, 2015