Black Panther is an upcoming American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is intended to be the eighteenth film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is directed by Ryan Coogler from a screenplay by him and Joe Robert Cole, and stars Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa / Black Panther alongside Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis. In Black Panther, T'Challa returns home as king of Wakanda but finds his sovereignty challenged by a long-time adversary in a conflict that has global consequences.
Wesley Snipes first mentioned his intention to work on a Black Panther film in 1992, with that project going through multiple iterations over the next decade but never coming to fruition. A Black Panther film was announced as one of the ten films based on Marvel comics that would be developed by Marvel Studios and distributed by Paramount Pictures in September 2005, with Mark Bailey hired to write a script in January 2011. Black Panther was officially announced in October 2014, with Boseman appearing first in Captain America: Civil War. By the end of 2015, Cole and Coogler had both joined Black Panther, and additional cast members came on board beginning in May 2016. Principal photography for the film took place from January to April 2017, at EUE/Screen Gems Studios and Pinewood Atlanta Studios in the Atlanta metropolitan area, and Busan, South Korea.
After the events of Captain America: Civil War, King T’Challa returns home to Wakanda. He soon finds his sovereignty challenged by factions within his own country. When two enemies conspire to bring down the kingdom, T’Challa must team up, as the Black Panther, with CIA agent Everett K. Ross and members of the Dora Milaje—Wakanda's special forces—to prevent a world war.
Additionally, Florence Kasumba and John Kani reprise their roles as Ayo and T'Chaka respectively from Captain America: Civil War. Sterling K. Brown plays N'Jobu, a figure from T'Challa's past, Isaach de Bankolé plays the elder of one of the largest tribes in Wakanda, Nabiyah Be portrays the criminal Tilda Johnson, and Sydelle Noel portrays Xoliswa, a member of the Dora Milaje. Atandwa Kani has been cast in an undisclosed role.
In June 1992, Wesley Snipes announced his intention to make a film about Black Panther, and he had begun work on one by that August. The next July, Snipes planned to begin The Black Panther after starring in Demolition Man, and the next month he expressed interest in making sequels to the film as well. In January 1994, Snipes entered talks with Columbia Pictures to portray Black Panther, and Stan Lee joined the film by March; it had entered early development by May. When the film had not progressed in January 1996, Lee explained that he had not been pleased with the scripts for the project.
In July 1997, Black Panther was listed as part of Marvel Comics' film slate, and in March 1998, Marvel hired Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti to work on it. That August, corporate problems at Marvel had put the project on hold, while the next August, Snipes was set to produce, and possibly star, in the film. In May 2000, Artisan Entertainment announced a deal with Marvel to co-produce, finance, and distribute a film based on Black Panther. In March 2002, Snipes said he planned to do Blade 3 or Black Panther in 2003, and reiterated his interest five months later. In July 2004, Blade 3 director David S. Goyer said this was unlikely, as Snipes was "already so entrenched as Blade that another Marvel hero might be overkill."
In September 2005, Marvel chairman and CEO Avi Arad announced Black Panther as one of the ten Marvel films that would be developed by Marvel Studios and distributed by Paramount Pictures. In June 2006, Snipes said he hoped to have a director for the project soon. In February 2007, Kevin Feige, president of production for Marvel Studios, reiterated that Black Panther was on Marvel's development slate. By July, John Singleton had been approached to direct the film. In March 2009, Marvel hired writers to help come up with creative ways to launch its lesser-known properties, including Black Panther, with Nate Moore, the head of the writers program, helping to oversee the development of the Black Panther film specifically. In January 2011, Marvel Studios hired documentary filmmaker Mark Bailey to write a script for Black Panther to be produced by Feige. In October 2013, Feige said "I don't know when it will be exactly, but we certainly have plans to bring [Black Panther] to life some day", noting that the Marvel Cinematic Universe had already introduced the metal Vibranium, which comes from Black Panther's home nation Wakanda.
In October 2014, Feige announced that Black Panther would be released on November 3, 2017, with Chadwick Boseman cast in the title role. Boseman's hiring "wasn't really an audition process. It was more of a discussion about what they wanted to do and how I saw it and what I wanted to do." The actor was set to first portray the character in Captain America: Civil War, before starring in his own film. Feige said that Marvel was considering minority filmmakers for the director and writer, saying "we're doing what we always do, which is looking for the best filmmakers, the best writers, the best directors possible. So I'm not going to say for sure that we're going to hire from any one demographic, but we're meeting a lot of people." He added that the studio had met with Reginald Hudlin, former writer of the Black Panther comics in the mid-2000s. In January 2015, Boseman said that the film was going through a "brainstorming phase", explaining, "I think right now, it's just going through the possibilities of what he can do... trying to figure out what it looks like and what it should feel like in certain moments. But just going through [the material], because there's always a difference from one story to the next of who he is—trying to find a way to merge those things together." The next month, Marvel pushed back the release date to July 6, 2018, while in April 2015, Feige stated that he would be meeting with directors after the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron at the end of the month, and that "casting is already underway in many ways. Some of which [is known], some of which [is not]."
By May 2015, Marvel had discussions with Ava DuVernay to direct this film or Captain Marvel. In June, Feige confirmed that he had met with DuVernay alongside a number of other directors and stated he expected a decision to be made by mid- to late 2015. By early July 2015, DuVernay had passed on directing the film, explaining that "Marvel has a certain way of doing things and I think they're fantastic and a lot of people love what they do. I loved that they reached out to me... [but] we had different ideas about what the story would be ... we just didn't see eye to eye. Better for me to realize that now than cite creative differences later." Later in the month, DuVernay expanded,
"For me, it was a process of trying to figure out, are these people I want to go to bed with? Because it's really a marriage, and for this it would be three years. It'd be three years of not doing other things that are important to me. So it was a question of, is this important enough for me to do? At one point, the answer was yes because I thought there was value in putting that kind of imagery into the culture in a worldwide, huge way, in a certain way: excitement, action, fun, all those things, and yet still be focused on a black man as a hero—that would be pretty revolutionary. These Marvel films go everywhere from Shanghai to Uganda, and nothing that I probably will make will reach that many people, so I found value in that. That's how the conversations continued, because that's what I was interested in. But ... it's important to me that [my work] be true to who I was in this moment. And if there's too much compromise, it really wasn't going to be an Ava DuVernay film."
By October 2015, F. Gary Gray and Ryan Coogler had been considered to direct the film, though negotiations with Coogler had cooled, and Gray had chosen to direct Fast & Furious 8 instead. Joe Robert Cole, a member of the Marvel writers program, was in talks to write the screenplay, and Marvel changed the release date once again, moving it to February 16, 2018. By December, discussions with Coogler were reignited after the successful opening of his film Creed. Feige described Black Panther as "a big geopolitical action adventure that focuses on the family and royal struggle of T'Challa in Wakanda, and what it means to be a king", while calling the film "a very important" link to Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel. He added that the film would be the first Marvel Studios production to feature a "primarily African-American cast".
In January 2016, Coogler was confirmed as director, and explained that he grew up reading comics, so Black Panther "is just as personal to me as the last couple of films I was able to make. I feel really fortunate to be able to work on something I’m this passionate about again." In agreeing to direct the film after being "wooed" by Feige for months, Coogler insisted that he bring collaborators from his previous films to work on Black Panther to differentiate the film from others in the MCU that are often "shot, composed, and edited by the same in-house people". Coogler wanted to "put his own personal stamp" on the film. People he brought back to work with him on the film include Fruitvale Station cinematographer Rachel Morrison, as well as production designer Hannah Beachler and composer Ludwig Göransson, who both worked with Coogler on Fruitvale Station and Creed.
Cole, speaking in February, called the film a "historic opportunity to be a part of something important and special, particularly at a time when African-Americans are affirming their identities while dealing with vilification and dehumanization. The image of a black hero on this scale is just really exciting." He added that it was important to approach the themes of the film "from a perspective that is rooted in the cultures of the [African] continent," also stating "we're thinking about where we are locating Wakanda within the continent, and what the people and history of that region are like... [W]e are going to be engaged with consultants who are experts on the continent and on African history and politics." Elaborating on this, Cole noted that there are many African countries, each "with different histories, mythologies, and cultures [so] what we tried to do was hone in on some of the history, some of the cultural influences and then extrapolate out in our technology, extrapolate out in how we see Wakanda and the different parts of the country and the culture of the country as well. So we wanted to root it in reality first and then build out from there, so we’d feel pretty authentic and grounded." Coogler added that they wanted Wakanda to "feel like a country, as opposed to just one city or town" by capturing the essence of actual African countries where there are "several tribes, who speak their own languages, have their own culture, and have distinct food and way of dress. They live amongst each other, and together they make the identity of those countries." Costume designer Ruth E. Carter referenced the Maasai, Himba, Dogon, Basotho, and Tuareg people in her designs for Wakanda. Beachler noted her designs were "about honoring [the] comic, then filling in the holes that weren’t there." Her research concentrated on Sub-Saharan Africa, pulling inspiration from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Ethiopia. Much of the architecture Beachler designed was inspired by "a lot of the different tribes, traditions, then figuring out a way to really make them technologically advanced, as if it would be very natural. Because we're also looking at Wakanda as never having been colonized." While researching in South Africa, the visuals of mountains looking like rondavels at Blyde River Canyon were incorporated to the tops of Wakanda's skyscrapers. Coogler compared the rarity of Vibranium existing only in Wakanda to the real-life mineral coltan that can almost only be found in Congo.
In April 2016, Feige said that Coogler was working on the script with Cole, and that filming would begin at the "very beginning of next year". Feige noted that Civil War laid "the groundwork" for T'Challa's morality, and established the "geopolitical landscape" that he would have to deal with on returning to Wakanda for Black Panther. Civil War also introduced the Wakandan language, based on the Xhosa language which Boseman was taught by John Kani, who first appeared as T'Challa's father T'Chaka in that film. Lupita Nyong'o entered negotiations to star as T'Challa's love interest the next month, and Michael B. Jordan joined in an undisclosed role, after previously working with Coogler on Fruitvale Station and Creed. Coogler discussed working in with the MCU while still creating "a Ryan Coogler movie", saying,
What Marvel’s doing ... is making content that exists in a particular universe, where the characters tie in and crossover, and I think that’s a great creative challenge to me—to make this movie as personal as possible. It’s going to be my most personal movie to date, which is crazy to say, but it’s completely the case. I’m obsessed with this character and this story right now, and I think it’s going to be very unique and still fit into the overall narrative that they’re establishing. I grew up as a comic book fan, and the same things used to happen in the comic books. You’d have Wolverine’s books, and they’d be so much darker and more brutal than the X-Men books, but they’d still fit in when you open the pages of the X-Men book. It’s new to movies, but it’s not new to storytelling.
Later in May, Moore, now serving as a producer on the film, stated that filming would occur in Atlanta, Georgia, with Marvel "definitely investigating shooting in Africa" as well. At San Diego Comic-Con International 2016, Nyong'o was confirmed for the film, in the role of Nakia, while Jordan's role was revealed to be Erik Killmonger. Also announced was Danai Gurira as Okoye, while Coogler confirmed that filming would begin in January 2017. Coogler also noted that he and Cole were inspired by Ta-Nehisi Coates' run on Black Panther, who was writing the comic at the time, saying "what he’s doing with Panther is just incredible. You can really see his background as a poet in some of the dialogue. And what Brian Stelfreeze is doing with the visuals in that book. And some of the questions that it’s asking." Coogler also indicated that they pulled from "almost every run" of Black Panther in the comics, including Jack Kirby, Christopher Priest (which Coogler felt the most was pulled from), Jonathan Hickman, Hudlin, and Coates. On the variety of characters included, Coogler said, "We kind of picked and pulled the characters we worked best for the story we were trying to tell and I think when people see the film it will be pretty natural, because you can’t run a country without a good team around you. It’s impossible. It’s kind of like natural that these characters would pop up."
In September 2016, Winston Duke was cast as M'Baku, a role that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II also tested for. The following month, Forest Whitaker was cast as Zuri and Daniel Kaluuya as W'Kabi, with Florence Kasumba revealed to be reprising her role as Ayo from Captain America: Civil War. Letitia Wright was also cast in an unspecified role. Angela Bassett was cast as T'Challa's mother, Ramonda, in November, and by January 2017, Sterling K. Brown was cast as N'Jobu. At that time, Marvel received permission from the Oakland-based public transit agency AC Transit to use their logo in the film, for a bus that T'Challa rides in a 1990 flashback to commute to Saint Mary's College High School in Berkeley, California. The setting was chosen due to Coogler's Oakland roots.
Principal photography had begun by January 21, 2017, at EUE/Screen Gems Studios and Pinewood Atlanta Studios in the Atlanta metropolitan area, under the working title Motherland. Filming also took place in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood in Atlanta and Atlanta City Hall, the latter serving as a United Nations building. Additional filming also took place in South Korea, with the city of Busan serving as the setting of a car chase scene, involving 150 cars and over 700 people. Filming in Busan began on March 17, 2017, with shooting occurring at the Jagalchi Fish Market, and filming taking place by Gwangalli Beach on March 21. Additional filming locations included Marine City and at the Gwangandaegyo Bridge. The production crew also hired hundreds of local, current, and former film students from local universities as staff or assistant staff during the South Korea filming. Filming in the country wrapped up on March 27, while a Korean actor was expected to be cast for the film.
Shortly after filming started, Kani's son Atandwa stated that he would appear in the film alongside his father, the latter reprising the role of T'Chaka, while on set photographs revealed that Martin Freeman would reprise his role as Everett K. Ross. Marvel announced the start of production on January 26, along with confirming the casting of Freeman, Wright, and John Kani, and revealing that Andy Serkis would reprise his role as Ulysses Klaue from Avengers: Age of Ultron. At CinemaCon 2017, Wright was revealed to be portraying Shuri in the film. Filming concluded on April 19, 2017.
At the end of June 2017, Sydelle Noel revealed she had been cast in the film as Xoliswa, a member of the Dora Milaje. In July 2017, Moore noted that Black Panther would be a cross between The Godfather and the James Bond films, saying the film was a "big, operatic family drama centered around a world of international espionage. So hopefully we’re getting the best of both worlds." Feige also called the film's story "rich in culturally relevant ideas. These are conversations we were having two years ago because that is inherently the story within the comics. Now it’s going to seem like the most highly fluid thing we could have done." Boseman also indicated there were parallels to "pull from" in the film in relation to Donald Trump becoming President of the United States after Barack Obama.
Black Panther is scheduled to be released in the United Kingdom on February 9, 2018, and in the United States on February 16, 2018, in IMAX and 3D. The film will have a "cross-nation release" in Africa, a first for a Disney film. It was originally scheduled to be released on November 3, 2017, before moving in February 2015 to July 6, 2018 to accommodate Spider-Man: Homecoming. In October 2015, it moved again to accommodate Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Marvel debuted early footage and concept art from the film in April 2017, at a press event for several of their Phase Three films. Kyle Buchanan at Vulture.com praised the cinematography, costume and production design, and focus on dark skinned actors and characters, saying "Black Panther doesn’t look like any of the other Marvel movies ... If this is what the future of superhero movies looks like, deal me in." Feige believed the screened footage was the first time Marvel had shown raw dailies, a decision made because the company wanted to show off the film's cast (which Feige called "the highest-class cast we’ve had on a first movie") and diversity, even though editing for it had not yet begun.
A teaser poster was released ahead of the first teaser trailer, which premiered during Game 4 of the 2017 NBA Finals. Fans felt the poster was poorly photoshopped, with tweets mentioning "poster" and "Black Panther" being 27 percent positive, 27 percent negative, and the rest neutral, according to CNBC's marketing technology firm Amobee. It was also noted that the poster looked similar to a real-life picture of Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton holding two gun spears. The trailer received a much more positive reception, with Peter Sciretta of /Film saying it was "nothing like I was expecting this movie to look like and that’s refreshing." Ben Pearson, also for /Film, felt the trailer reminded him of a quote from Michael K. Williams' Omar Little in the television series The Wire: "You come at the king, you best not miss." io9's Charles Pulliam-Moore called the teaser "every bit as intense as you were hoping it would be" and "epic as hell". He also felt the Dora Milaje, who are present many shots of the teaser, stole the trailer. Andrew Husband for Uproxx felt the single teaser "easily outshines Spider-Man: Homecoming's big-from-the-beginning marketing campaign." Forbes's Scott Mendelson enjoyed how the teaser showed the film "playing in the 007 sandbox" being a "spy actioner [which] is a good way to give it a hard foothold beyond merely being the MCU's first black-led superhero movies." Mendelson also felt that "Black Panther has the chance to be a seminal event in the same way we're now seeing with Wonder Woman." Graeme McMillian of The Hollywood Reporter also agreed with Mendelson's comparison of Black Panther to Wonder Woman, noting the "impeccably timed" teaser showcased "the similar spirit of expansion of superhero diversity and audiences, the surprising visual parallels in terms of palette, [and] the unexpected narrative threads that connect the two."
In 24 hours, the trailer was viewed 89 million times, including 19 millions views from those watching Game 4. The teaser "dominated the conversation on social media for much of the night" over Game 4, being the top-trending item on Twitter. Amobee calculated 109,000 tweets with the hashtag #BlackPanther from 9 p.m. EST until midnight the night the teaser was released, of which 86% were positive. Additionally, the hashtag #BlackPantherSoLit was used in approximately an additional 15,400 tweets. Amobee's principal brand analyst Jonathan Cohen noted, "The real-time reaction to the Black Panther trailer was overwhelmingly positive on social media; reaffirming what the success of Wonder Woman has already proven—that fans of Marvel and DC movies are hungry for representation." Based on the engagement, Cohen concluded that "it appears fans have gone from cautiously optimistic about the Black Panther movie to feeling February 2018 can't come soon enough." The Hollywood Reporter noted that the teaser generated 349,000 Twitter mentions in 24 hours, also more than Game 4. The amount of mentions were second to the amount the Star Wars: The Last Jedi teaser received. comScore and its PreAct service noted 446,000 new social media conversations for the film after the trailer released, the most for the week. For the week ending on June 18, comScore and its PreAct service again noted social media conversations for the film, with over 33,000 new ones, the second-most for the week behind Spider-Man: Homecoming. The service also noted Black Panther produced a total of 566,000 conversations to date.
Costumes from the film were on display at D23 Expo 2017 and the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con. Also in July, Marvel Studios unveiled a partnership with Lexus, with the 2018 Lexus LC scheduled to be featured in the film. A graphic novel, Black Panther: Soul of the Machine, will also be released from writers Fabian Nicieza, Geoffrey Thorne and Chuck Brown, with cover illustrations by Scott "Rahzzah" Wilson and Szymon Kudranski, in which Black Panther defeats a villain with the help of the Lexus LC 500. Nicieza stated "Lexus wanted [the comic] to be much more a story about craftsmanship and the constant search for perfecting the creative process than about car chases." The story is "an exploration of man's search for the perfect amalgam of biology and technology" with the villain, Machinesmith, seeking "Wakanda's vibranium to jump-start a techno-organic evolution." In October 2017, Marvel published a prequel comic titled Black Panther Prelude, which focuses on one of T'Challa's first missions as the new Black Panther. Coogler, Boseman and other members of the cast presented exclusive footage of the film at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con, which received a standing ovation from the audience. The footage segued into a trailer-like montage, which featured Kendrick Lamar's song "DNA". Coogler called the lyrics "amazing" and "actually oddly literal for our trailer's purposes–and I think a lot of the cultural things we're dealing with in Wakanda are in the zeitgeist in the African American community."
In September 2017, Coogler, Gurira and Moore participated in a panel at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislative Conference, where exclusive footage from the film was also shown. The footage was received positively by the mainly black audience. Richard Loverd, director of Science & Entertainment Exchange at the National Academy of Sciences who also spoke at the panel, felt the film would "spark interest in science and tech as well as travel to Africa in a whole generation of black Americans", similarly to how The Hunger Games films and Brave sparked girls' interest in archery.
"He’s somewhat a religious figure, or spiritual figure," Coogler says of Zuri. "Spirituality is something that exists in Wakanda in the comics and it’s something we wanted to have elements of in the film. Forest’s character, more than anything, is a major tie back to T’Challa’s father. Zuri is someone he looks to for guidance." He says think of him as the Wise Old Man – Black Panther’s version of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
In the comics, Klaue’s weapon was an ultra-sonic emitter he used as a prosthetic for his missing arm. In this film, he attaches a piece of advanced Wakandan mining equipment as his arm-cannon -- which is presumable what led the CIA and Black Panther to capture him. In this shot, we can see the limb has been taken from him.
Among the tribal rulers, the camera lingers on one especially compelling presence. Coogler says the man with the emerald suit and lip plate is "the elder of one of the largest tribes in Wakanda." He's played by actor Isaach De Bankolé, known for brutalizing Daniel Craig's 007 in Casino Royale. Across from him sits T'Challa's widowed mother, Ramonda (played by Angela Bassett)...
Black Panther (February 9, 2018)... Feige confirms that the film, which will be the last Marvel movie before the Avengers return, will boast a "primarily African-American cast", while Creed’s Ryan Coogler is reportedly in negotiations to direct (Coogler declined to comment). As for the film itself, "It’s a big geo-political action adventure that focuses on the family and royal struggle of T’Challa in Wakanda, and what it means to be a king. T’Challa’s story is very important to us as it links to the next Avengers films, which is why we brought it forward."