Ahead of San Diego Comic Con 2017, the new issue of Entertainment Weekly has made ‘Black Panther’ their cover story – and they’ve unveiled a whole host of new photos from the upcoming Marvel movie.
Following his introduction alongside Tom Holland’s Spider-Man in 2016’s ‘Captain America: Civil War,’ Chadwick Boseman will take the lead in the film from director Ryan Coogler, which takes us into the warrior king T’Challa’s home nation of Wakanda.
We already got some idea of what to expect from the first ‘Black Panther’ trailer last month, which informed us of how Wakanda hides its technological advancement from the outside world. EW’s report gives us a bit more insight into this, noting that Wakanda not only produces vibranium – the indestructible metal from which Captain America’s shield is constructed – but also that it is home to “the Heart-Shaped Herb, a Vibranium-enriched plant that grants its leaders superhuman strength.”
So Black Panther’s physical prowess isn’t down to gym time alone, then.
We already knew that Michael B Jordan (reuniting with director Coogler after ‘Fruitvalle Station’ and ‘Creed’) was the villain of the piece as Erik Killmonger, and now we have a better idea of his villainous plan: a ‘dissident and aspiring prince,’ he seeks to take the Wakandan throne from T’Challa, and has enlisted Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) to help him do so.
(And in case you were wondering – yes, apparently there is a significance to those markings across Killmonger’s torso, but executive producer Nate Moore says this is “a story reveal that we’d like to preserve.”)
All very ‘Game of Thrones’ – and much as in Westeros, Wakanda has more than its share of political unrest, as the tribal elders – among them Forest Whitaker’s Zuri, a ‘shaman and trusted adviser’ to the previous king T’Chaka – are not all convinced that T’Challa is steering the right path as their figurehead.
Coogler (who also co-wrote ‘Black Panther’ with Joe Robert Cole) explains, “In this movie, a lot like politics, it’s a little tricky to define who’s [a good guy]… The film very much plays with those concepts, looking at conflicts and different motivations, and who’s with who.”
One group of Wakandans we feel safe assuming to be on T’Challa’s side are the Dora Milaje. In a slight deviation from the comics (in which they are also the king’s betrothed), here this all-female unit are T’Challa’s personal guard, described as “a combination of Special Forces and the Secret Service.”
Stood central in the picture below, we see Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, an “undercover operative” dedicated to protecting Wakanda’s secrecy around the world, often by lethal means.
We’ve also got our first look at Angela Bassett as T’Challa’s mother Ramonda, here seen with Nyong’o’s Nakia and Letitia Wright as her daughter Shuri, meeting with CIA agent Everett K Ross, played by returning ‘Civil War’ actor Martin Freeman.
As in the comics, Ross is among the very few outsiders allowed access to Wakanda.
Anticipation is high for ‘Black Panther’ following its well-received trailer, hinting at a bold new world unlike anything we’ve seen yet in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Marvel themselves seem excited too, as producer and studio boss Kevin Feige enthuses, “We could make five movies only about Panther and his world because it’s so rich.” Promises, promises…
‘Black Panther’ is released to UK cinemas on 16 February 2018. (See more new images at Entertainment Weekly.)