Black Panther Press Junket : Movie is a Powerful Ode to African Culture

 Fresh off its Hollywood premiere, Black Panther’s stars and creators shared their experiences at a recent press junket. Furthermore, the cast expressed a unanimous hope that the movie, a powerful ode to African culture will help change viewers’ perceptions.

Marvel Studios Black Panther Aims to Change Perception about African Culture room for conference

Last week, I had the chance to preview the movie and attend Marvel Studios’ Black Panther junket.The event featured key cast members like Chadwick BosemanMichael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’oDanai GuriraAngela Bassett as well as writer /director Ryan Coogler and producer Kevin Feige.

 

Marvel Studios Black Panther Aims to Change Perception about African Culture the movie poster

The room at Beverly Hills’ Montage hotel was beaming with excitement. After watching the movie the night before, all the media representatives showered the creators and actors with compliments and questions. Topics discussed ranged from character development to the personal experiences of the actors. For all our Marvel fans, here are the highlights of the event.

 

Marvel Studios Black Panther Aims to Change Perception about African Culture selfie corner

Black Panther’s writer personal angle

Black Panther’s writer and director Ryan Coogler opened the discussion by sharing his angle.He continued to share how this project helped him explore his own black identity. “This is the most personal film I’ve ever made. This movie for me started with this question of what it meant to be African.It’s a question that I’ve always had since I learned I was black.

I didn’t understand what that meant. As a kid you’re like, so wait, we’re from Africa? What’s that? I’m 31-years-old, and I realized I never really took time to grapple with what it means to be African. This film gave me the chance to do that.”

Marvel Studios Black Panther Aims to Change Perception about African Culture ryan coogler

Director Ryan Coogler from Marvel Studios ‘Black Panther’ at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2017 M (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

Marvel Studios’ decision to feature a black superhero

Producer Kevin Feige shed light on Marvel’s decision to feature a new groundbreaking black superhero.“ The whole Marvel bullpen created Black Panther and made him a smarter, more accomplished character than any of the other white characters in the mid-1960s.

 

Marvel Studios Black Panther Movie is a Powerful Ode to African Culture the kingwalking

So, if they had the guts to do that in the mid-1960s, the least we can do is live up to that. (We) need to allow this story to be told in the way it needs to be told. Moreover, (we should) not shy away from things that the Marvel founders didn’t shy away from in the height of the Civil Rights era.”

 

Marvel Studios Black Panther Aims to Change Perception about African Culture kevin feige marvel

President of Marvel Studios and Producer Kevin Feige at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2017 Marvel Studios in San Diego, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

Also, the movie’s writer Ryan  Coogler gave everyone a rare insight how the creators developed the characters“You can go to our film and see something in there from every writer that has touched T’Challa’s character in the Black Panther comics. From Stanley and Jack Kirby’s initial runs, McGregor, Christopher Priest to Reginald Hudlin, Jonathan Hickman and Brian Stelfreeze.”

 

Marvel Studios Black Panther Aims to Change Perception about African Culture junket appearance Marvel Studios Black Panther Aims to Change Perception about African Culture

Why the cast speaks with an African accent

One of the recurrent questions on people’s minds was why the cast speaks with an African accent. Chadwick Boseman volunteered to clarify by explaining the rationale behind the unusual decision.

Marvel Studios Black Panther Aims to Change Perception about African Culture chadwick boseman

Photo Credit: BLACK PANTHER  T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) Ph: Film Frame©Marvel Studios 2018

“Since [Wakanda] had never been conquered, then T’challa didn’t go to Oxford, Cambridge or Yale. He got his education at home so he would not assimilate a language that is the colonizer’s language. ”

Furthermore, he pointed out that the intonations and melodies inside of an African accent are just as classical as a British one.All the emotions can be shown through that accent, and we have to take that opportunity to show that.”

 

Marvel Studios Black Panther Aims to Change Perception about African Culture Studios' BLACK PANTHERT'Challa/Black Panther

Photo Credit:Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER  T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) Ph: Film Frame©Marvel Studios 2018

BlackPanther is all about girl power

Next, the discussion moved to one of the major themes in the movie, woman empowerment. The women of Wakanda are strong-willed, opinionated and sexy.In short, true badasses!

Marvel Studios Black Panther Aims to Change Perception about African Culture

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER  Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2018

Angela Bassett, playing O’ Challa’s mother pointed out the importance of women in African culture. “In African culture, they feel as if there is no king without a queen. This story highlights the queen, the warrior, the general and the young sister.”

 

Marvel Studios Black Panther Aims to Change Perception about African Culture angela bassett

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER  T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Ramonda (Angela Bassett) Ph: Film Frame.©Marvel Studios 2018

Letitia Wright playing the feisty Shuri mentioned how she liked the fact the script portrays women as smart and supported by their male counterparts.“ What I love that the men are always behind the women. So everybody’s got their own lane. No one’s like undermined (or told) ‘You shouldn’t be in technology, and you shouldn’t be in math. They’re like, ‘No, go ahead.”

 

Marvel Studios Black Panther Aims to Change Perception about African Culture kick ass sister

Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER Shuri (Letitia Wright).Ph: Film Frame  ©Marvel Studios 2018

Lupita Nyong’o playing Nakia chose to focus on the way the movie emphasizes women’s sisterhood.“ I love the way this film represents women… that every one of us is an individual, unique, and hold our own space without being pitted against each other.

Marvel Studios Black Panther Aims to Change Perception about African Culture the king's girl friend

Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) Ph: Matt Kennedy ©Marvel Studios 2018

The movie challenges traditional  beauty concepts

Everyone wanted to hear from Danai Gurira playing the  Okoye head of Dora Milaje, the all-female fighting force. She shared how it felt to get her head shaved for the role. “When Ryan talked to me about his vision, I was just floored, because you don’t get to hear that often. I  loved that moment where she (Okoye) doesn’t want a wig. She doesn’t want to cover up. This is her joy and her pride (to walk) with a bald head with that tattoo on it.

 

Marvel Studios Black Panther Aims to Change Perception about African Culture okoye bald

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Ayo (Florence Kasumba) with the Dora Milaje Ph: Film Frame©Marvel Studios 2018

I was the first one to get my head shaved, and in theory, it sounded amazing. And then the day came, and I was like, ‘was it today? And then like you go to the restroom to wash your hands, you look up, and you go, what the…! It took a few days and then all the girls started coming in (bald) one by one and then the pride started to grow.”

Marvel Studios Black Panther Aims to Change Perception about African Culture

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER (Florence Kasumba) Ph: Film Frame©Marvel Studios 2018

The cast’s hope for change in perception

During the press junket, the cast expressed a common hope that this movie will help change the public’s perspective of Africa and its cultures.

As a native Zimbabwean, actress Danai Gurira called this movie ‘a much-needed salve’ for the wounds inflicted over centuries of misinterpretation.“ To see this world brought to life in this way and to see all the power of all of the different African culturalisms is a kind of a salve to those wounds.”

Marvel Studios Black Panther Aims to Change Perception about African Culture fighters

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER Black Panther/T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) with Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Okoye (Danai Gurira)Ph: Film Frame©Marvel Studios 2018

 

Chadwick Boseman who plays O’Challa  reminded everyone that though Wakanda is fictional, it provides a tantalizing glimpse into what Africa could have become if the Europeans hadn’t colonized it.“ I think when you talk about Wakanda even though we’re talking about a fantasy, it (reflects) the idea of an unconquered nation that has not been tampered with by the various means .“

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), b/g W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) Photo: Matt Kennedy©Marvel Studios 2018

 

Finally, Andy Serkis playing Ulysses Klaue summed it all up. “I  just think this film is important. It should have been made many years ago. But now is a brilliant time because things are changing rapidly in every single aspect of filmmaking. So the needle should swing the other way because we  really need to  change things.”

 

Marvel Studios Black Panther Aims to Change Perception about African Culture Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis)..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2018

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER.Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis)..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2018

Follow  BLACK PANTHER on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

BLACK PANTHER arrives in theatres everywhere on February 16, 2018!

Disclaimer: Marvel Studios invited me to a complimentary screening and press junket for the’ Black Panther movie. However, all opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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