Movie Trivia: Marvel's Black Panther
As we wait for the next entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to hit theatres, it’s a good moment to reflect on everything in the studio's vast, interconnected series of superhero adventures. One movie in that lineup stands particularly tall: BLACK PANTHER.
The 2018 movie captured the zeitgeist and took control of the box office, and with good reason. It's not just good; it showed us characters and places that had never been seen in a superhero movie. We've seen several Marvel Studios movies since then, but nothing quite like BLACK PANTHER.
So, while we wait for more news on the sequel, let’s take a look back at some of our favorite BLACK PANTHER trivia, straight from Wakanda.
Black Panther Trivia
1. Wesley Snipes originally wanted to play the character. Way back in 1992, Snipes, then one of America’s hottest action stars, announced his intention to play Black Panther. John Singleton and Mario Van Peebles were floated as potential directors but the project never progressed. Snipes eventually starred as a Marvel hero in three BLADE films.
2. It was announced early on. In 2005, BLACK PANTHER was announced as one of the first ten films to be made by the newly formed Marvel Studios and distributed by Paramount. It wound up taking a lot longer to get off the ground.
3. Marvel Studios laid a lot of groundwork. While Black Panther himself didn’t appear on-screen until CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR in 2016, the fictional African nation of Wakanda had been in the MCU for a while. It was listed as a location on a computer screen way back in 2010 in IRON MAN 2, and a sizable action setpiece took place there in 2015’s AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (with lots of talk about Vibranium and an appearance by Ulysses Klaue, a bad guy who returns in BLACK PANTHER).
4. Chadwick Boseman was cast first. He was announced as the Black Panther in 2014, long before his appearance in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR and a full four years before BLACK PANTHER.
5. The project took inspiration from writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. The award-winning novelist was working on a run of the BLACK PANTHER comic book while the filmmakers were working on the cinematic version of the character. One inspired the other.
6. Donald Glover helped with the script. Early in development Donald Glover and his brother Stephen contributed to the script, specifically adding humor to the relationship between T’Challa and Shuri.
7. At one point a Spider-Man villain made an appearance. Director Ryan Coogler wanted Spider-Man foe Kraven the Hunter to appear in the film since he had made a memorable appearance in the BLACK PANTHER comic books that the script was partially based on. But the licensing agreement between Marvel Studios and Sony couldn’t be worked out and the character was dropped.
8. The Wakandan language is based on an actual dialect, the Xhosa language, which is one of the official languages of South Africa and Zimbabwe. It is notable for its use of click consonants. John Kani, who plays the Black Panther’s father, taught Boseman how to speak the language. Director Ryan Coogler encouraged the use of the language on set.
9. Michael B. Jordan went method. Jordan separated himself from the cast since his character Killmonger would be more separate and distant from the characters.
10. Killmonger’s scars are derived from a process called scarification, a tradition still utilized by some African tribes. The scars usually signify a life event or milestone and are sometimes used as a status symbol. For Killmonger, each new scar is for someone he’s murdered.
11. It wasn’t shot in Africa. Most of BLACK PANTHER was in fact filmed in Atlanta at the sprawling Pinewood Studios Atlanta, where many Marvel Studios movies are shot. Bonus trivia: the movie's codename was MOTHERLAND.
12. The South Korean mission was, however, partially filmed in South Korea. So there’s that. Coogler took inspiration from classics like THE FRENCH CONNECTION and BULLITT for the high-octane car chase.
13. Composer Ludwig Goransson, whose score is one of the highlights of the film, was college roommates with Ryan Coogler. The rest is history.
14. Trevor Noah has a vocal cameo. The South African comedian and current host of THE DAILY SHOW makes a brief appearance voicing the Red Talon Remote Pilot System. Take that Jarvis!
15. Where in the timeline? While BLACK PANTHER was released two years after CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, the events dramatized in the movie are supposed to happen a little more than a week after the events of that earlier film. Which raises a lot of questions as to where it fits into the continuity of the MCU and everything that has happened since (including the big Wakanda-set battle at the end of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR).
16. Coogler wanted the film to stand on its own. While the Black Panther character was introduced in an earlier film and several characters from other MCU movies make appearances in BLACK PANTHER, the director wanted it to be standalone in many ways. He did concede, however, to shoot a scene with Sebastian Stan as Bucky/the Winter Soldier, which would appear during the end credits.
17. The rhinos were actually horses. The scene where Daniel Kaluuya feeds one of his rhinos an apple was actually him feeding the apple to a horse. Then the digital effects wizards added the rhino in after-the-fact.
18. The film broke barriers. It was the first live-action film to be officially shown in Saudi Arabia in 35 years.
19. The soundtrack was a huge smash. The Kendrick Lamar-supervised soundtrack, featuring artists like SZA, Vince Staples and The Weeknd, was a huge hit and harkened back to the Prince-filled soundtrack to BATMAN. It debuted at the top position of the Billboard charts, won a Grammy (for “King’s Dead”), and was cited as being part of a “soundtrack renaissance.”
20. The movie was a phenomenon. It made back its $200 million production budget on its first weekend. It made over $700 million domestically and $646 million worldwide, becoming the most successful solo superhero movie ever, the third highest-grossing MCU movie, and the ninth highest-grossing movie period. And guess what? It deserves every penny.
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All images courtesy of Marvel Studios.