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Chadwick Boseman on Preparing to Bring ‘Black Panther’ to Life

With just days until it slams into theaters, Black Panther is the talk of the entertainment world. From interviews with the cast and crew to first reviews and even spoilers on those post-credit scenes, you can’t visit a corner of the internet without hearing about Black Panther.

Not that you’d want to.

The film debuted a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes with 54 positive reviews counted. There are trends in social media and blog pieces dedicated to what makes the film so much more than just a movie.

So how does one prepare for a film of this caliber? Chadwick Boseman recently spoke with Variety about the experience of bringing Black Panther to life.

‘I was actually introduced to the character in college. Obviously, I read the comic books. Marvel will provide you with them. I wanted to have the experience of going to the store and buying it as opposed to them giving it to me. So we go there and that was a funny part. You got your hat on, your shades, got my friends with me to cover it. We did it the first time, and they started ordering stuff that wasn’t in. The second time, they were like, “This is the dude that’s playing the character!”’

He was asked about the offer he got to play T’Challa without even auditioning, which he said isn’t as rare in a Marvel film as you might believe.

It’s not that rare. It depends on who you are. I don’t know what everyone else’s experience was. They called me on the phone, and the process started from that. I did go in and talk to them, just to get a sense of what they were thinking.’

When you first saw Boseman as Black Panther it was obvious that no one else could have taken on the role as he did, so it’s really not a surprise that he didn’t have a lengthy audition process. He brings the character to life with every required personality trait, and then some, to make him relatable, humble, and kind.

Boseman found watching the Iron Man and Captain America movies to be necessary for him to understand his character and the arc in which it was to be taken.

Speaking of films, Black Panther has a very definite tie to Ryan Coogler, which is to be expected. While every director leaves pieces of themselves within their work, it’s less common for an MCU film to really seem to fit the bill of a specific profile. However, Boseman says this one is definitely a Coogler movie.

‘I feel like it’s definitely a Ryan Coogler film. There are certain choices that are made in this movie that are distinctly his stamp on it. I can’t see another filmmaker making those decisions because they don’t have his background, they don’t have his perspective. Having seen his other movies, this fits on that resume.’

He was also asked if a white director could have made Black Panther, and his answer again reinforced why Coogler was the right director for this one. He said it’s possible for them to make it, but not with Coogler’s perspective, and Boseman thinks that’s one of the most important parts of the film as a whole.

Well, is it possible for them to make it? It could be, yes. Would they have his perspective, like the perspective Coogler brought to the movie? Probably not. It wouldn’t be nuanced in the same way because they don’t have the same conflict. They don’t have the African-American conflict that always exists: whether you’re conscious of it or not, you have an ancestry that’s very hard to trace. And then, going to the continent and meeting a person that’s African. In order to do this, you have to find ways to make those connections, especially because the character is coming from that place. They know exactly who they are, who their ancestors are. Would a white director understand that? Those nuances of American, African-American, African? I’m not sure. But I think it’s an important part of this movie.

 Black Panther hits theaters on February 16th.

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Ashley Dye
'...but I knew him'