Lupita Nyong'o and Letitia Wright talk about Black Panther and how it cleverly portrays its female characters without retreading the usual tropes we see them undergo in superhero films.
Marvel Studios will open their monumental 10th anniversary year with Black Panther, a movie that boasts a stellar cast of mostly people of color, helmed by Ryan Coogler. The narrative specifics of the film are still kept under wraps, but we expect that it will have some political and even spiritual undertones with T'Challa coming home to the hidden country of Wakanda as its new King and protector. His reign, unfortunately, won't be smooth sailing as several factions threaten his position in the nation. With a nationwide crisis brought about by both internal and external factors, he'll find help from the strong women in his life such as Nyongo's Nakia, a member of the Dora Milaje, and Wright's Shuri, his insanely smart sister.
Sitting down with Teen Vogue, Black Panther's female power players shared how Coogler crafted a story that shines a light on its female characters in a way that shows how powerful they are without the need to outdo each other. Nyong'o, in particular, explains that the Creed helmer made the conscious effort to present both her and Wright's roles as highly capable and independent individuals who are actually pivotal in the film's narrative:
"Ryan made a point of avoiding the expected female-rival narrative. In this genre, where spandex is involved, oftentimes the women are pitted against each other. In our story, there are so many different women holding their own space. Women may be in competition with each other, sure, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s an absence of love or respect."
The Academy Award-winning actress furthers by talking specifically about Nakia, who comic book readers know has a tumultuous relationship with T'Challa, and at one point, even ended up as one of his adversaries. But Nyong'o shares that the big screen adaptation of the character will be different from her print counterpart. The moment she realized that the Marvel movie will have "social and political relevance," she was in. "My character, Nakia, was a departure from the character you see in the comic books. She’s this independent woman, super patriotic but also very questioning of her society, and I liked that," she reveals.
As for Wright, whose career is just starting to peek with parts in upcoming blockbusters like Ready Player One and even Avengers: Infinity War, playing Shuri in Black Panther "was so refreshing." "She’s strong, and she can kick butt. She’s intelligent, she loves Wakanda, and she loves creating technology to protect her people. But you see when she’s scared, when she’s frightened, when she’s afraid for her family," she adds.
We'll see how T'Challa, alongside his allies, will resolve the conflict within Wakanda and how both Shuri and Nakia will factor into the resolution of the nation's crisis in Black Panther. However that plays out, the country will soon need to put a united front if they want a chance at survival. There is a bigger threat looming in the shadows with Thanos' upcoming debut in Infinity War, and with the fictional nation seems to be the location of the Soul Stone, we're pretty sure that the mad Titan will waste no time in trying to take over the country to get what he needs.
Source: Teen Vogue
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- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
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