To coincide with its final trailer, which aired last night during halftime of the College Football National Championship game, director Ryan Coogler sat down with advance ticket sellers Fandango to reveal some interesting final thoughts on the film’s unique standing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe catalogue, its stylistic influences and the roles main character T’Challa/Black Panther (played by Chadwick Boseman) and primary villain Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) will play.
“It’s got a lot of elements,” Coogler said when asked to categorize the film. “I think it’s a bit of an espionage thriller. I think it’s a little bit of a family drama. [T’Challa] works with his sister, he works with his mother. He’s dealing with the loss of his father, so similar to any film that deals with royalty, you have a family element and you have a political side, too. It works as a political drama as well.”
“Yeah, definitely with James Bond,” Cooler cited regarding the film’s influences. “I think similar to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we’re definitely influenced by the films of the ’70s and influenced by crime fiction.”
Though Black Panther adds flavor we’ve yet to see integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it will nonetheless be the 18th offering from Marvel Cinematic Universes; as enjoyable and critically acclaimed the lion’s share have been, it’s hard not to draw a formulaic, “been there, done that” feeling from the comic-book-inspired narratives. When asked how Black Panther would differentiate itself from previous offerings, Coogler said, “As a comic book and superhero film fan myself, I feel like we’ve seen a lot at this point. I think that the cultural element of [Black Panther] — and how cultural specificity takes such a big role in the film – that’s what makes it quite unique. I’m excited to see more [superhero movies], but there hasn’t really been a film about a character like T’Challa before. Hopefully we can pull it off, but it has the potential to be something that’s really unique in a lot of different ways. I think that you can’t ignore the idea of representation and also the excitement around Marvel Studios and the work that they’ve been able to pull off when telling original and unique stories. I think that folks are excited to see what the studio is able to cook up.
When asked of how the character of T’Challa has changed since his appearance in Captain America: Civil War: “The film will take place basically immediately after Civil War… [and] in many ways, [T’Challa is] the same guy. What I think is more important… you get to see T’Challa at almost from a ground level. You get to see him and how he is around the people who he loves, how he is when he’s comfortable. It’s just a much more personal perspective on him. You see him go through the journey of taking on the greatest responsibility that a person can have, the responsibility of leading a country. You see him go through the full weight of that in the film.”
Of course, what is any great hero without a worthy villain? Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, who can be seen wearing “ritual scarification marks, a type of body modification, not dissimilar to tattoos or piercings” throughout the film, will set himself apart from other MCU villains because “he has a real world sensibility to him… I think Marvel has had villains who you can relate to, but I think even more than that, you feel like he’s of this world. He’s very grounded, I would say.”
Black Panther hits theaters on February 16th.