Black Panther is now the highest-rated live-action superhero movie ever, and with a record-breaking box office weekend for its premiere, the film is literally changing the game. Rolling Stone recently spoke with Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, portraying T’Challa (Black Panther), as he covers the publication’s March 2018 issue, as well as director Ryan Coogler — as both detail more about the highly-acclaimed film and its impact, with it being the first Marvel Studios movie to put a person of color in the lead role and to feature a mostly black cast.
…on the world finally having its first African superhero movie from Marvel.
CB: “It’s a sea-change moment. I still remember the excitement people had seeing Malcolm X. And this is greater, because it includes other people, too. Everybody comes to see the Marvel movie.”
…on choosing Chadwick Boseman to star as Black Panther.
RC: “It’s perfect casting. His physicality, his reserved personality, the way he looks younger than he is, wise beyond his years.”
…on the timing for the release of the film.
CB: “I truly believe there’s a truth that needs to enter the world at a particular time. And that’s why people are excited about Panther. This is the time.”
…on the film’s overall message.
RC: “We were making a film about what it means to be African. It was a spirit that we all brought to it, regardless of heritage. The code name for the project was Motherland, and that’s what it was. We all went to school on Africa.”
…on the film’s blackness being inseparable from its appeal.
CB: “Some [black] actors will say, ‘I don’t want to play a character just because he’s black.’ And that’s great, I’m not saying they’re wrong. But that’s missing all the richness that’s been whitewashed.”
…on Hollywood’s double standard when it comes to identifying young black talent, in comparison to white talent.
CB: “It’s a numbers thing. If you have 15 shots, I got three. If you have nine chances to mess up, I have one. Each one of us knows that if you mess up, your career is done. I see the intensity… If you have a dud, you’ll never work in this town again.”
…on what Boseman did once he got the role of Black Panther, to confirm his roots, as well drawing from a wide range of real-life influences for T’Challa including studying African martial arts.
CB: “AfricanAncestry.com. They get specific about what ethnic group you come from, as opposed to just what country… I think it was his way of saying, ‘As an African-American, I know you’re disconnected from your ancestors and your culture and your traditions,’Here’s my way of welcoming you back.'”
…on the effect of Obama, when the idea for a Black Panther movie was first hatched.
CB: “I think his presence opened the door for it in a way… a leader who’s not going to respond to criticism – the type of person who can hold his tongue and hold his ground.”
…on what Boseman thinks T’Challa would make of President Trump referring to certain nations in Africa as “shithole countries.”
CB: “I’d love to answer that. But I don’t want to give him Panther time.”
…on Boseman’s birth name.
CB: “I actually don’t know why my mom chose Chadwick – it’s a weird name for a black man.”
…on the racism he faced growing up.
CB: “I’ve been called ‘nigger,’ run off the road by a redneck, like, ‘Fuck you, nigger.’ Seen trucks flying Confederate flags on the way to school. I’m not saying it was an everyday occurrence – but if somebody was feeling tradition that day…”
…on realizing he liked telling stories after writing a play to cope with a tragedy in which a boy on his high-school basketball team was shot and killed.
CB: “I just had a feeling that this was something that was calling me. Suddenly, playing basketball wasn’t as important.”
…on future projects that he wants to do or see happen.
CB: “There’s a plethora of stories in our culture that haven’t been told, because Hollywood didn’t believe they were viable. It would be cool to see slices of history that you haven’t seen with African figures. Like Africans in Europe – the Moors in Spain. Or if you go to Portugal, they have statues of black people all over the place. So not only have we been here, but we’ve directly affected everything that you think is European.”
For additional details, be sure to read the full story on Rolling Stone.
Now, these are the best Easter eggs, references, and cameos in ‘Black Panther.’