The newest Marvel superhero movie, Black Panther, has already smashed advance ticket sales and received rave reviews from critics.
Black Panther is a stunning movie, full of great action sequences and social commentary, but its release is also significant for another reason.
“This is the type of movie I have wanted to see my whole life,” said Chadwick Boseman, He is making history as Black Panther, the first black superhero lead in the Marvel cinematic universe.
Starring a predominately black cast, Black Panther is the story of an African king who does double duty as a crime fighter.
“This is a film that really has the potential to shift popular culture,” said Lupita Nyong’o
It already has. When students at Ron Clark Academy Academy in Atlanta found out they were all going to see the movie, they erupted with joy in a video that went viral.
“I didn't realize how much my inner child had wanted this,” said Daniel Kaluuya. “It is such an amazing moment that we won't even see the impact for years to come.”
At the world premiere in January, the audience responded with emotion and a standing ovation.
“I have seen black women in tears because they are seeing themselves represented in a way that has never happened before,” said Boseman.
Introduced to Marvel comics in 1966, months before The Black Panther Party got its name, Black Panther is the alter ego of T'Challa, the king of Wakanda, the most advanced --and most secretive --nation in the world. But he soon faces a challenger in Michael B Jordan's character, Oakland raised Eric Killmonger.
“For Eric, growing up in systemic oppression had a huge impact on his rage and his ambitions,” said Jordan.
Director and co-writer Ryan Coogler, also an Oakland native, visited Africa to take a deep dive into the Continent's history and culture.
“For me it was a personal exploration of what it means to be African,” he said.
Now moviegoers will be able to immerse themselves in a world of kings, queens, and warriors.
“It's very heartwarming to think that people will come to know Africa more specifically,” said Nyong’o who was raised in Kenya. “Wakanda is an aspirational African nation that everyone really wants to visit and really is borrowed from real things on the continent.”
Warrior Falls, the site of an important ritual in the film, is based on a real canyon in South Africa. It was rebuilt in Atlanta for scenes where a hundred costumed extras stood for weeks under a bright sun.
“Some of them were getting sick. It was winter in Atlanta. The sun was bouncing off the water, reflecting in their eyes, but they kept coming back because they knew they were witnessing a rite of passage that felt real,” said Boseman.
That's the kind of commitment Forest Whitaker witnessed from everyone involved in the movie.
"Everybody was so immersed in the whole process. Everybody was giving 110%," he said.
Black Panther is a movie that promises to make its mark both at the box office and in cinematic history.
Black Panther opens Friday, February 16.
Travel and accommodations paid for by Walt Disney Pictures.
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