I was lucky to attend a screening of Marvel Studios’ most recent movie Black Panther this afternoon. I didn’t know what to expect of the movie as I’m a late-comer when it comes to comics, but knowing that it was Marvel Universe, I had a pretty good feeling it was going to be nothing short of an amazing work of art. And, since I’m sworn to no spoilers (okay, well, told that I can’t post them), I’ll stick to some of the meat.
Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and BlackPanther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.
“Black Panther” stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, MartinFreeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, with Angela Bassett, with Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis. Making this Marvel Universe movie it’s first with a cast made up entirely of black actors, actresses, stunt women and Broadway dancers.
Black Panther made his first appearance in “Fantastic Four Volume 2” Issue 52 in 1966. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Black Panther quickly became a fan favorite crossing both racial and cultural lines. But, his character didn’t appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe until 2016 in Captain America: Civil War, where there isn’t a lot of back story.
Once they voted to show Black Panther in Civil War, they knew there needed to be a stand alone film for Black Panther thus pleasing fans and proving their commitment to explore all of the pieces of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Again, I’m not allowed to give any spoilers, so I’ll try to focus on things that I really liked that don’t give the movie away, and also my thoughts on family viewing.
Of course, Black Panther and the people of Wakanda with their Vibranium are nothing short of awesome. They have unheard of technology led by Shuri, little sister to T’Challa (Tony Stark would be in awe)! Shuri is the smartest person in Wakanda, the top scientist and also the innovator and creator of Black Panther’s suit upgrades (with qualities very similar to Captain America’s shield, also made with Vibranium). Also, I have to log her for her wit and sarcasm.
To be honest, all of the women in Black Panther have great one-liners, witty banter, brains and brawn. If it weren’t for the women, Black Panther wouldn’t be who he is. Yep, I said it!
Okoye is the leader of the Dora Milaje security force. She’s got a take no prisoners attitude and yes will always be faithful to her Nation above all else. She’s also the best fighter in Wakanda (except Black Panther), but is fiercely loyal to the throne (almost to a fault).
Ramonda (Angela Bassett) is the Queen Mother is wants to keep all peace in the land. And, can we just discuss how amazing Angela Bassett looks! Because she looks amazing!
Nakia is a spy that is often embedded in other countries to report back to Wakanda. She’s another woman that doesn’t mess around and takes her job very seriously. She’s a bit of a rebel “I would make a great queen because I am so stubborn” but she’s also loyal to her country.
It really is hard to say too much else without giving things away. And really, I think the women need to be highlighted.
It sure was fun to sit in an Atlanta-based audience and watch a movie where scenes were visibly filmed in Atlanta. When they presented The High Museum as a museum in England, they was an audible “mmmhhmmmm” from the audience. And at the end when City Hall was shown, there was some recognition there, too.
Of course, when Atlanta and Georgia shown in the credits, there erupted a great applause.
Bringing Your Family
Black Panther is rated PG-13. I counted one swear word (the one for poop) and one “bird” flown. However, I will say there was a lot of violence. Like A LOT! There were knives, swords, staffs, spears, and intense hand-to-hand and bodily contact. There was throat slicing, stabbing and very hard hits with blood. At one point, I was actually a little nauseous from what was happening on the screen.
Every family and child is different, but I feel this warning needs to be made. The movie sits at just over 2 hours (124 minutes) making it pretty long for kids, too.
Our children aren’t really interested in Marvel movies, but if they were, at this time, we wouldn’t allow them to watch Black Panther because of the violence.
For the Adults
The adults leaving the theater enjoyed the movie. There was quite a bit of chatter about the movie itself and what it means next for the Avengers and Infinity Wars. None of us really knew exactly what to expect, but I think we were all hoping we knew just a little bit more.
Black Panther was an enjoyable movie with a lot of action, funny parts, sad parts and all of the emotions we’ve come to expect from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that will keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time!
Black Panther Fun Facts
(Provided by Marvel)
- An important part of the Black Panther lore incorporated into the film is the Dora Milaje, the cadre of strong fierce women who serve as the personal security force to the King and royal family. These tall, statuesque, bald-headed warrior women, who move as one, command attention wherever they go.
- Led by Danai Gurira’s character, Okoye, the Dora Milaje security force features an international contingent of women from all over the world, including Florence Kasumba who returns to play Ayo, a character that first appeared in Marvel Studios’ “Captain America: Civil War.” The Dora Milaje were cast from a pool of actresses, stunt women and Broadway dancers so that each individual Dora could have specialized skills that they brought to the table.
- It was decided early on that Xhosa, one of the official languages of South Africa, would be the language of Wakanda. A precedent had been set in Marvel Studios’ “Captain America: Civil War,” when celebrated South African actor John Kani, who portrayed King T’Chaka, used his native accent. Chadwick Boseman, who plays T’Challa/Black Panther, picked it up from him as well.
- The cast and stunt team practiced with African drums played by musician Jabari Exum so that their movements would have a musical quality found in many African-based martial arts.
- Actor Daniel Kaluuya learned how to ride a horse as practice to simulate riding W’Kabi’s armored rhino in the film.
- Young Zuri is played by Denzel Whitaker. While he shares the same last name with Forest Whitaker, who plays the older Zuri, they are not related. However, they did play father and son in Denzel Washington’s “The Great Debaters.”
- South African actor Atandwa Kani plays the character of Young T’Chaka to his father and celebrated South African actor John Kani’s King T’Chaka.
- The cast did the bulk of the fight work that will be seen on film. Chadwick Boseman, whose skill set includes a comprehensive martial arts background, knew what he was in for when he and all the other actors had to attend a “boot camp” to prepare them for the physical aspects of their roles.
- Michael B. Jordan, who plays Erik Killmonger, spent about two and a half hours in the special effects makeup chair every day, while makeup designer Joel Harlow and three other makeup artists applied close to 90 individually sculpted silicone molds to his upper body. This “scarification” application process entails transferring each mold and then blending and painting them to match Jordan’s skin tone. Each of Killmonger’s scars represents a “notch” of his kills over the years.
- The majority of the Wakanda sets were constructed on sound stages at Pinewood Studios in Atlanta, including the Tribal Council; the Wakandan Design Group, Shuri’s hive of research and development of the vibranium rich country; the ancient subterranean Hall of Kings; and most notably Warrior Falls, the ceremonial heart of Wakanda’s revered traditions.
- The Warrior Falls set was 120’ x 75’ in size. The set was 36’ tall, with the pool being six feet above ground level. That made the cliff faces 30’ tall. Construction took about four months from start to finish.
- The entire cliff wall of the Warrior Falls, including the CG and practically built set, is 100 feet high.
- Over 25,000 cubic feet of foam was used in the Warrior Falls set, which was sculpted to match the rocks in Oribi Gorge in South Africa.
- The bottom of the Warrior Falls’ Challenge Pool was padded for the stunt team, but still looked like rock. The production crew also had to formulate a surface that was rough enough to not be too slippery in bare feet, but not so rough that it hurt to land on it.
- On the Warrior Falls set, the stunt team had to rig all of the cliff faces with mountain climbing gear to safely secure all of the extras on the cliff faces.
- The production team engineered a fully functional flowing waterfall and pool at the ledge of the cliff with six large submersible pumps feeding over 125,000 gallons of temperature-controlled water piping up through the set at a rate of 30,000 gallons per minute before recirculating through the system.
- The high-speed car action for the Casino sequence was filmed on location in the bustling coastal city of Busan, South Korea. For almost two weeks, “Black Panther’s” action unit descended upon the coastal city nestled against the foothills of Geumjeong Mountain to film the thrilling, mind-blowing chase sequence through such iconic sites as Gwangalli Beach and the Haeundae District.
- Director Ryan Coogler wanted the South Korea action sequence to be seamless, so he had an editor on set cutting footage in real time. This is not often done during production, but Coogler felt it was the best way to capture all the action, stunts and special effects in frame on time.
If you’ve missed the trailer, check it out here. Then plan to go see it this weekend!