The blockbuster Black Panther movie centers around Wakanda, a Marvel Comic fictional country in the Motherland that has never been colonized. It is the most technologically advanced nation on the planet thanks to the rare mineral vibranium that has extraordinary powers. Vibranium arrived in the continent of Africa millions of years ago in the form of a gigantic meteor that crashed into the nation. The perfect ethnostate of Wakanda was thereby built around this great mound of vibranium and now, it has an endless reserve.
The groundbreaking film that has shaken up the Marvel Universe with its mostly Black cast has attracted throngs of folks who stood in line for hours to see it. The film was a momentous event for us because the Black Panther, a superhero, not only symbolizes justice, this is a given, but the film as a whole infused us with pride, hope, and empowerment. It reminds us that “YES, we are relevant! We are capable! We are a badass race of people!”
The film embraces all that is beautiful about Blackness without an inkling of minstrel behaviors, total oppression, or routine tokenism that is seen in far too many Hollywood productions. We are flocking to see the film dressed in African attire, and are greeting each other with the Wakanda forever salute, a gesture of pride. The film has certainly given us a boost of self-esteem, it has inspired a resurgence of Black self-love, we are finally able to see ourselves as unapologetically Black and we revel in this awakening!
Black Panther has grossed a $1 billion dollars worldwide, thus becoming Walt Disney Studios’ 16th title, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s 5th ever to pass that benchmark. We LOVE the Black Panther movie and thought you’d enjoy some fun trivia facts about it:
- The Black Panther was created in July 1966, just two months before the Black Panther Party was formed. The organization was based in Oakland, California which was also the birthplace of the film’s director Ryan Coogler and the film’s villain, Erik Killmonger.
- Many people mistakenly assume that the Black Panther was named after the militant group; so in 1972, the Marvel character was renamed the Black Leopard. The name change didn’t last long because the readers and creators did not care for the name switch.
- The name for the fictional nation of Wakanda comes from the Wakamba tribe of Kenya, also known as the Kamba.
- Director Ryan Coogler thoughtfully brought in consultants who were experts on African history and politics to work on defining Wakanda:
“There are many African countries, each with different histories, mythologies, and cultures. There are several tribes who live amongst each other and together they make the identity of their country. We honed in on some of the history/cultural influences from African countries and then made estimations.”
- Director, producer, screenwriter Ava DuVernay was approached to direct Black Panther and actually met with Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige and star Chadwick Boseman, but their visions of the movie were not in sync.
- John Boyega of Star Wars fame was considered for the role of T’Challa. (Chadwick was definitely the better choice with his ALL his swag and fine self!)
- This film marked director Ryan Coogler’s third collaboration with Michael B. Jordan (Erik Killmonger), after Fruitvale Station (2013) and Creed (2015).
- The film was released during February’s Black History Month when Black contributions and achievements are celebrated across the US, Canada, and the UK.
- Despite the African setting/languages, no scenes were actually filmed in Africa. All of the Wakanda scenes were actually filmed in Georgia. However, the South Korean scenes were shot on location.
- Animal shelters have reported that adoption rates for black cats have increased following the release of the movie. And interestingly enough, many cats are being named after the characters.
- Although many would find it odd that there is snow in Africa, it is actually known to happen in a few places, including East Africa where the fictional Wakanda is said to exist.
- Dorothy Steel, who was 91 years old when she played a tribal leader in the movie was treated with great respect. As the elder on the movie set, she was considered the resident grandmother. Chadwick Boseman would often give her a hug.
- Angela Bassett previously starred in Panther (1995), about the Black Panther movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s.
- The breaking of Killmonger’s spear during the fight scene, mirrors the fighting technique that Shaka Zulu used which enabled his warriors to wield stabbing spears, rather than throwing spears, and losing their weapon. This change in tactics made the Zulu much more effective against the British.
- When asked during an interview about his decision to use an African accent in the film, The leader of Wakanda, T’Challa played by Chadwick Boseman, gave a thoughtful and powerful response:
“Colonialism in Africa would have it that, in order to be a ruler, his education comes from Europe. I wanted to be completely sure that we didn’t convey that idea because that would be counter to everything that Wakanda is about. It’s supposed to be the most technologically advanced nation on the planet. If it’s supposed to not have been conquered – which means that advancement has happened without colonialism tainting it, poisoning the well of it, without stopping it or disrupting it – then there’s no way he would speak with a European accent.”
- Actor Wesley Snipes was once approached to play the lead in Black Panther during the 1990’s when it was in development at Columbia Pictures. Snipes even wrote a script treatment for the movie.
- The fighting in this film is based on the African-Brazilian martial arts of Capoeira.
- The actors in the movie fully represented the African diaspora. The African-American actors included Chadwick Boseman, Angela Bassett (Ramonda), Forest Whitaker (Zuri), and Sterling K. Brown (N’Jobu). Danai Gurira (Okoye) is Zimbabwean-American. Winston Duke (M’Baku) is from Tobago, Daniel Kaluuya (W’Kabi) was born in London, and is the son of Ugandan immigrants. Florence Kasumba (Ayo) is Ugandan-German and Letitia Wright (Shuri) is Guyanese-British. Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia) is of Kenyan descent.
- There was a Black Panther Challenge started nearly three months ago to raise money for Harlem kids to see the epic film. The challenge has thus far raised nearly $800,000 for kids in 50 countries to view it.