In just a couple more weeks, Marvel fans are in for a wild new ride in the form of Black Panther, the first live-action solo movie starring Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa, the king and protector of the mysterious African nation of Wakanda. Directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed) and starring an amazing ensemble cast - including Michael B. Jordan, Lupita N'yongo, Danai Gurira, Forest Whitaker, Letitia Wright, Andy Serkis and one of this year's Best Actor nominees, Daniel Kaluuya - Black Panther is expected to have a massive $100-120 million opening weekend, and is already getting rave reactions from those who attended the first screenings. Needless to say, we're excited.
Last year, Screen Rant was fortunate enough to visit the set of Black Panther, where we saw villain Ulysses Klaue (Serkis) being busted out of jail, and got a chance to speak to the cast and creative voices behind Marvel's next big blockbuster. You can check out our full coverage from the set visit here, but here's a summary of the 15 most exciting and intriguing things we learned on the set of Black Panther.
This Page: Klaw, Killmonger, Shuri and The Golden City
Klaw Has a Personal Relationship With Wakanda
Captain America: Civil War didn't just introduce Black Panther; it also introduced one of his greatest nemeses, Ulysses Klaue - an arms dealer with a particular interest in Wakanda's rare metal, Vibranium. Andy Serkis returns as Klaue in Black Panther, and Serkis told us that he has a "love/hate relationship" with the secretive and well-guarded nation of Wakanda, as one of the few outsiders who has actually visited it. "We decided that Klaw, we would make him South African," Serkis explained. "A very strong Afrikaans, quite bullish... it gives him a real edge."
Obviously Wakanda doesn't exist in the real world, but Black Panther nonetheless draws on African politics, and Klaue's heritage is part of that. "It fits very well politically that he was of South African descent at a time when, of course, he grew up through Apartheid," Serkis added. Wakanda is seen by the rest of the world as a third-world country of little note, since the Golden City and its stunning technological advancements are kept well-hidden, but Klaue knows better. "He certainly has discovered things about it that nobody else has," teased Serkis. "He’s one of the few people who’s been into Wakanda and he reveals quite a lot about it."
Klaue and Killmonger Are Not Buddies
Multiple antagonists in one movie? The natural assumption is that Klaue and Killmonger end up working together - especially since the trailer shows the two of them side-by-side in disguise, apparently pulling off some kind of heist. But Serkis assured us that Klaue isn't the kind of man who values friends or allies:
"Klaw doesn’t really trust or work with anybody; he is his own man. He does deals with people, he interacts, but he doesn’t form allegiances or alliances with anyone. Ultimately, he’s a lone wolf. He has these pop-up groups wherever he happens to be in the world. So he and Killmonger aren’t working together, as such."
Serkis described his character as "quite nihilistic," having clawed (pun intended) his way up first through the army, and then through his career as a mercenary. However, he is not entirely without a moral code: "What he doesn’t like is hypocrisy; he absolutely despises hypocrisy." Perhaps it will be some kind of hypocrisy on Killmonger's part that ultimately drives a wedge between Black Panther's enemies.
Killmonger is a "Revolutionary"
Though Marvel is often criticized for its villains, it's fair to say that they've had a broad range of motives - from Obadiah Stane's ambition and greed, to Ronan the Accuser's religious zealotry. Michael B. Jordan's Erik Killmonger is another Marvel villain who acts as something of a mirror for the protagonist (they have very similar-looking suits of armor), but he's also something of an outsider to Wakanda - as evidenced by his American accent. When asked to describe his character in one word, Jordan told us that he is a "revolutionary," and also said that "hopefully Killmonger is somebody you guys can root for, too."
Shuri is the Smartest Person in the World
Move over, Tony Stark: it turns out that Wakanda has been hiding a technological genius who is even smarter than Iron Man himself - and she's just 16 years old. T'Challa's sister Shuri (played by Letitia Wright, who also starred in the latest season of Black Mirror) is the head of the Wakanda Design Group, which means that she provides her brother with everything from high-tech armor to fast cars (which she also drives, remotely). Producer Nate Moore told us that Shuri is a little less serious than her brother, but that doesn't mean she's all comic relief. "She, like T’Challa, lost her father in the last film," Moore reminded us, while also adding that as the head of the Design Group, she has a lot of responsibility on her young shoulders:
"Part of that responsibility is keeping that technology secret while developing these amazing gadgets. As the walls start to close in, what does she have to do to make sure what she’s done stays out of the wrong hands?"
Golden City is 20-25 Years Ahead of the Rest of the World
It's not just Shuri who's a technological wizard. T'Challa's hidden home in Wakanda, Golden City, is "just" 20 to 25 years more advanced than the rest of the world, according to Moore, which means that it's both fantastical but also somewhat grounded. Wakanda's prosperity and technological advancement is owed to two things: the Vibranium upon which Golden City is built, and the Wakandans' decision to stay secluded from the turmoil and warfare of the rest of the world. As Moore explained, the two things are connected:
"[Wakanda knew that] if people knew they had Vibranium, which they do, they were going to be conquered or at least be at war forever. So they did the smart thing. They hid that fact, so nobody knows that they have this stuff. That’s why they’ve been able to have these advancements. They don’t spend money on war. They don’t spend money defending themselves constantly. They just spend money on infrastructure which is something... that will feel topical. Just that idea of what happens when you’re not 24/7 trying to fend off the rest of the world."
Wakanda has essentially left the rest of the world behind, and has done so by allowing the rest of the world to believe that it is a poor African nation with nothing to boast of. "That’s allowed them to build something amazing."
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018