Black Panther will feature many more characters outside of its leading man, including Forest Whitaker as a spiritual figure within Wakanda. With filming officially wrapping a few weeks ago, it was only a matter of time before more information on Chadwick Boseman’s future solo adventure became known. Thankfully, that time has come sooner than many expected with a recent information overload fully announcing Black Panther‘s place within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It began with the first poster, followed by another new synopsis, and culminated in the unveiling of the first teaser trailer for Black Panther. During the trailer, fans got their first look at many of the aspects of the film – including glimpses at most of the supporting cast. Whitaker’s Zuri was one of these figures spotted, and he’s now been described as Black Panther‘s Obi-Wan.
EW spoke with director Ryan Coogler following the release of the trailer to get even more details out of unpacking the trailer. Zuri is shown relatively early on in the trailer alongside T’Challa, but Whitaker looks very different than any role he’s had before. That’s because he is playing an important religious figure within Wakanda – one that had close ties to T’Challa’s father – and is now being the Obi-Wan to this film’s Luke Skywalker in Black Panther.
He’s somewhat a religious figure or spiritual figure. Spirituality is something that exists in Wakanda in the comics, and it’s something we wanted to have elements of in the film. Forest’s character, more than anything, is a major tie-back to T’Challa’s father. Zuri is someone he looks to for guidance.
The Obi-Wan comparison is appropriate considering he is the one who introduces Luke to the Force and begins to hone his skills. Zuri could very well fill that role for T’Challa in this movie as well. He will become king of Wakanda right as this film begins with T’Chaka’s death in Captain America: Civil War being a catalyst for the solo film’s events, and the right to rule includes going through a series of rituals. These should be nothing new to T’Challa as he grew up a prince, but Zuri could help guide him through the process, while serving as a character who can also explain it all to the audience.
With Zuri’s scene in the trailer taking place in what appears to be T’Challa’s induction ceremony, this could be one of the final steps in that process of becoming king. Considering the Black Panther also has to be in favor with Bast (the Panther God) and utilize the famed Heart-Shaped Herbs, there are plenty of unique aspects to Black Panther’s story that Zuri can help explain along the way.
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