Forest Whitaker says Black Panther is all about family. Ryan Coogler’s upcoming superhero movie will be the last chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before the Earth’s mightiest heroes unite with the Guardians of the Galaxy for an ultimate showdown with the Mad Titan Thanos and his Black Order in Anthony and Joe Russo’s Avengers: Infinity War — and the Black Panther will be there to fight alongside them.
Chadwick Boseman made his debut as T’Challa, aka Black Panther, in the Russo Brothers’ Captain America: Civil War last year, in which audiences were given a brief introduction into the Wakandan culture and the purpose of the Panther, as well as a momentary look at the actual nation. Coogler looks to bring that wondrous country and culture to life in his Black Panther movie next year, and much of that culture revolves around family.
In Civil War, audiences briefly glimpse T’Chaka and T’Challa’s father-son relationship prior to the bombing that murders the Wakandan king, thereby leaving the nation under T’Challa’s charge. In the upcoming film, Black Panther, much of those familial elements continue, except this time they extend beyond the confines of the nuclear family. Forest Whitaker, who plays the former Wakandan warrior and now elder statesman Zuri, told Screen Rant at San Diego Comic-Con 2017 that the concept of family is very much at the core of Black Panther.
“It’s a big deal. We see the mom, Angela, you know, Angela Bassett plays Ramonda and she…you knew about the history of her father and where he came from and before that. So it’s a lot about family and extended families and community. First family, then tribe, and then community. And I think that’s a big part of it, the historical significance. [T’Challa] is from a princely line. He is a king. He is born into it in that way. And I think that in itself, that DNA is about family, so it’s like that.”
In Black Panther, Angela Bassett plays Ramonda, the former queen of Wakanda. It’s worth noting that in this film, Ramonda has been classified as being T’Challa’s mother, not his stepmother, as was the case in the comics. Boseman has previously stated that T’Challa frequently looks to his mother for advice, even though she may not always be right, and that sense of family advisory extends to characters outside his immediate relatives, such as Zuri.
In addition to playing somewhat of a political role, Zuri is one of the nation’s spiritual leaders, who frequently advises T’Challa on not only being king but presumably also being the Black Panther, something his father had been before him. People see some of that spiritual advisory come into play during the movie’s first teaser trailer, when T’Challa is told, “You are a good man, with a good heart, and it’s hard for a good man to be king.”
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