Unless you’ve been sequestered under a rock for the past several months—or your Internet service has been down—you’re well aware that THE must-see film of the year Black Panther is about to drop.
The movie, named for the first black comic book superhero (created in 1966 by Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby) is poised to claw its way to the top of the box office February 16 with an Afro-futurist narrative and high-octane action.
Black Panther tells the gripping story of T’Challa who, after the death of his father returns home to his technologically advanced African nation to take his rightful place on the throne as the king of Wakanda. Tested by powerful outside forces and a dangerous former enemy, T’Challa must fight for the fate of his beloved country and the entire world.
Black Panther is the 18th film to be spawned from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), according to CNNMoney, and the highly anticipated movie has already broken Fandango’s pre-sale ticket record for MCU films within its first 24 hours. Industry experts are projecting that the Ryan Coogler helmed project could open at around $150 million or higher. And according to Variety, a strong box office showing for Black Panther, which cost nearly $200 million to produce, would send a clear message to Hollywood that there’s tremendous opportunity to be found in making more movies targeting diverse audiences and featuring Black casts.
The movie’s megawatt casting, with stars like Chadwick Boseman, Lupita N’yongo, Angela Bassett and Michael B. Jordan, and jaw-dropping special effects are sure to deliver an unforgettable experience for superhero fans.
But before you head to the theater, meet some of the key Black Panther characters!
Meet the Character: T’CHALLA (“Black Panther”)
Portrayed by: Chadwick Boseman, 41
Backstory: T’Challa (Black Panther) rules the fictional, never colonized African nation of Wakanda as its king after the death of his father, T’Chaka. T’Challa is faced with whether or not to expose his technologically superior, yet secretive country to outsiders, at the same time that he must defend his right to the throne from those who conspire to take it from him.
What makes him ‘super’: T’Challa has superior intellect and a fits-like-a-glove suit, made from Vibranium—an indestructible, vibration-absorbing metal found only in Wakanda. In addition, he’s a brilliant tactician, strategist, scientist, tracker, and master of all forms of unarmed combat, which incorporates acrobatics and aspects of animal mimicry. Chadwick reportedly worked with a dialect coach to perfect a South African accent and spent as many as five hours a day in the gym doing weights, cardio and martial arts to prepare for the role.
Comics vs. Film: In a departure from the comic book plot, Wakanda’s Dora Milaje (“Adored Ones”) don’t merely double as T’Challa’s harem of betrothed wives-in-waiting. In the comics, members of the Dora Milaje represent all of the Wakandan tribes, and it’s tradition that the realm’s unmarried king select his wife from among their ranks. In the film, the fearsome, fabulous and fiercely loyal Dora Milaje battle to the death to protect the king.
Chadwick on what Black Panther means: “This movie is about how you use power…The only difference between a hero and a villain is that the villain chooses to use that power in a way that is selfish and hurts other people.”
Black Panther claws its way into movie theaters nationwide February 16.