So here it is. The movie that African-Americans, Hip Hop Heads, Urban Hustlers and true comic fans never thought they would live to the day to see. It's one thing to see a Black President voted in with the support of approxmately 30% people of color but to see a Super Hero movie with a Black cast in Hollywood?... It was previously unheard of. We've even seen white actors play super heroes that were written as Black. But let a Black man play a super hero that was white and the internet loses it's mind. But alas, here we are.
We will now witness a movie for the ages with a predominately black cast that doesn't have Wil Smith, Martin Lawrence, or Eddie Murphy in it. Not since Bad Boys II has a movie been granted a budget in excess of $130 million. The Black Panther murders that record with a whopping $200 million dollar budget.
Despite threat of boycotting from Christian right wingers thinking Black Panther is associated with the Black Panther movement of the 60s, which it is not, with the successful reception of The Black Panther character in Captain America's Civil War, Disney gained the confidence to go "All-In". What's even more impressive is that the story hails from a fictional third world country in Africa. But rather than focus on an image of the poor and famined the story reigns from a hidden society of wealth, futuristic technology and intellect. Something to keep in mind for the racially charged naysayers however. Just as a white cat can be faster than a speeding bullet and leap tall buildings in a single bound in the Marvel Universe, so can a Black cat that rule over a society that leads the world in wealth and technology. Just saying. One more thing to keep in mind. This isn't the imagination of a new jack millennial from Berkeley California looking to balance the injustices of the world through a make believe super hero characature this came from the imagination of the son of Romanian-Jewish immigrants.
The production didn't pull any stops on talent either. Ryan Coogler, Director of Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival for Fruitvale Station, continues his historic run-up into theaters, outpacing all previous movies released in the first quarter in terms of advance ticket sales on market leader Fandango.
The tentpole, from Disney and Marvel studios, is beating out previous Q1 champs The Hunger Games (2012) and Beauty and the Beast (2017), according to Fandango. And it's likewise pacing to be the biggest superhero preseller in Fandango's 18-year history, eclipsing Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).
The Soundtrack will be another feat for the ages. With Hip Hop Super Stars like Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, and SZA it's sure to be an urban chart topper.
So enough of all the accolades. For those that aren't familiar with the background of the Black Panther story T'Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. He is challenged from within his region by Fruitvale, Fantastic Four and Creed star Micheal B. Jordan.
The movie is packed full of both new and award winning actors and actresses. Chadwick Boseman of the critically acclaimed 42, the Jackie Robinson story, and James Brown in the biopic Get on Up. is the star of the movie. You can also see Boseman as the first African American Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, in the biopic Marshall. His cameo appearance Captain America: Civil War landed The Black Panther as a force among super forces that delivered in every aspect that a superhero should.
A graduate of Howard University and the British American Drama Academy, Chadwick Boseman intended to write and direct. But his career took him on a different path. He first taught drama in Harlem for five years before making the move to Los Angeles to pursue acting. After a string of bit parts on "All My Children," "Law & Order," "ER,” and "Lie to Me," Boseman got his first series regular role on the short-lived crime drama "Lincoln Heights."
Michael B. Jordan
Michael B. Jordan is no stranger to the superhero genre, having played Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four, the superpowered high schooler Steve Montgomery in Chronicle, and lending his voice to Cyborg in "Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox." In Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan tackles his first supervillain as Erik Killmonger, who in the comics is exiled from Wakanda and becomes T’Challa’s nemesis.
This is Jordan’s third collaboration with director Ryan Coogler. since Fruitvale Station.
Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia
Lupita Nyong'o stars as Nakia, T’Challa’s love interest and a member of the Dora Milaje, who serve both as bodyguards to the Wakandan King as well as ceremonial wives in training.
After graduating from Hampshire College, Nyong'o started her film career behind the camera, working as a production assistant on The Constant Gardener and directing the documentary In My Genes, about the discrimination of albinos in Kenya.
Nyong’o has had a short but impressive acting career, winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2014 for her first feature role in Steve McQueen’s Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave. She repeated that first-time success with a Tony Award in 2016 for Best Actress for her Broadway debut in "Eclipsed."
If you want to catch Nyong’o on screen before Black Panther premieres in Feb. 2018, she'll reprise her role as Maz Kanata in the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi in December.
Danai Gurira as Okoye
Danai Gurira stars as Okoye, friend of Nakia and head of the order of the Dora Milajie.
Guira is best known for her portrayal of the sword-wielding zombie outbreak survivor on "The Walking Dead," a role she’s held for five seasons. In addition to acting, Guira is also a successful playwright, receiving the Whiting Award for an emerging playwright in 2012 and the Sam Norkin Award in 2016 for her plays "Familiar" and "Eclipsed" (for which Lupita Nyong’o received a Tony award).
In addition to "The Walking Dead," Guira appeared in HBO’s "Treme," "Lie to Me," and the US adaptation of "Life on Mars." You can see Guira in the upcoming Tupac Shakur biopic, All Eyez on Me, before she kicks ass in Black Panther next year.
Daniel Kaluuya as W'Kabi
If British actor Daniel Kaluuya looks familiar, you probably recognize him as Chris, the terribly unlucky boyfriend from the horror-comedy Get Out or as the star opposite Emily Blunt as agent Reggie Wayne in Sicario. If you’re from the United Kingdom, you might know him as Posh Kenneth from the teen drama "Skins," for which he was both an actor and staff writer, or his stints on sci-fi series "The Fades" and "Black Mirror." Kaluuya will be lending his voice as the rabbit Bluebell in the upcoming Netflix/BBC miniseries remake of the animated film Watership Down.
In Black Panther, Kaluuya stars as W’Kabi, T’Challa’s second in command, who in the comics is the chief of Wakandan security, wary of outside influence.
Forest Whitaker as Zuri
Forest Whitaker stars as Zuri, who in the "Black Panther" comics is a renown warrior and loyal companion to T’Challa’s father, T’Chaka, His character later serves T’Challa after the death of the King.
With 119 acting credits to his name, Forest Whitaker has had a successful and prolific acting career across film and television, with memorable roles as Big Harold in Platoon, ’Jody in The Crying Game, Ghost Dog in Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, and Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland for which he won a BAFTA, Golden Globe and Oscar for his role as the Ugandan dictator.
Sterling K. Brown as N'Jobu
2016 was a great year for Sterling K. Brown, who won both an Emmy and Critic’s Choice Award for his portrayal of Christopher Darden in "American Crime Story," and starred as adopted son Randall Pearson in the breakout NBC drama series "This Is Us."
Brown has been working steadily in TV and film since 2002, landing his first series regular role as Officer Edward Dade in "Third Watch" and following up with appearances on "NYPD Blue," "Supernatural," and "Alias,." In 2007 he kicked off a seven-season run on the Lifetime drama "Army Wives" alongside his wife Ryan Michelle Bathe.
Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue / Klaw
Andy Serkis is perhaps best known for his groundbreaking motion-capture acting work, starring as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Caesar in the Planet of the Apesseries, Kong in Peter Jackson’s King Kong, and most recently as Supreme Leader Snoke in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and The Last Jedi.
In 2011 Serkis founded The Imaginarium Studios, a London-based digital studio specializing in motion capture technology for TV, film, and video games. Andy Serkis reprises his role as black-market arms dealer and assassin Ulysses Klaue, first seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Sterling K. Brown stars as N’Jobu a mysterious figure from T’Challa’s past who does not appear in the "Black Panther" comics.
Florence Kasumba as Ayo
Florence Kasumba reprises her role as Ayo, a member of the Dora Milaje, who we first glimpsed as T’Challa’s personal bodyguard in Captain America: Civil War.
Kasumba has worked mainly in German film and TV, with recurring roles on the long-running German detective series "Tatort" and the fantasy-themed reality series, "The Quest." In 2017, she appeared as the East Witch in the NBC Wizard of Oz retelling, "Emerald City," and will appear in the upcoming DC Universe film Wonder Woman, as Senator Acantha.
Winston Duke as M'Baku
Winston Duke is relatively new to the scene, landing his first TV role in 2014 in an episode of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," then joining "Person of Interest" in a recurring role as gang leader Dominic Besson. He also appeared on "Major Crimes" and "Modern Family." Black Panther is Duke’s first feature film.
Duke plays M'Baku one of Wakanda’s greatest warriors, who in the "Black Panther" comics tries to overthrow T’Challa and take Wakanda as his own.
Also a relative newcomer, Letitia Wright has already made a mark on the British acting scene, having been nominated for a 2016 British Independent Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer.
Wright plays Shuri, T'Challa's younger half-sister and a princess in her own right. Shuri who has all of the skills and abilities of a Black Panther, and is described as "the smartest person in the world."
So now the studios have bought into what has historically been feature film Tabu. They believe the world is now ready to accept 2 hours of Blackness. The question is will the general public show it's support of the film or will society reveal once again what it considers socially unacceptable. How far have we come. Let the success of Black Panther reveal the truth.
Story By Roger Hooks, Jr.