Chadwick Boseman: How Civil War Prepared Me For Black Panther

The Black Panther actor talks Avengers and his upcoming appearances in the franchise

By Pamela Chow

Marvel's Captain America: Civil War Black Panther/T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) Photo Credit: Film Frame © Marvel 2016

Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, in Captain America: Civil War. (Photo: Film Frame)

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Not long after Captain America: Civil War began showing in theatres here, a Black Panther standalone movie was announced for 2018.

Played by Chadwick Boseman, the swift-slashing masked hero is T’Challa, prince of Wakanda.

His appearance in Civil War received praise for the character’s timely introduction and detail. For example, his suit is apparently made of the “Vibranium”, the same material in Cap’s shield.

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Weekender finds out what Boseman feels about his emerging character, and his possible progression within the Marvel franchise.

Boseman describes Black Panther as a “paradox” of tradition and forward-thinking strategy. (Photo: blastr.com)

How did you react when you were approached to play Black Panther?

I went through a few reasons why I felt it was a great thing for the world to have… It felt like something I was supposed to do. I think that’s what you’re always looking for as an actor.

What is it about the character that you felt so connected to?

He is a paradox. There is a built-in conflict because he is so aware of and so connected to a tradition and lineage.  Yet, he is a forward thinker, a maverick.  He is very strategic.

You never know quite what he’s going to do next, so there’s a certain mystery about the character.  At the same time, he’s a public figure.  Known by everyone but known by no one.

Marvel's Captain America: Civil War L to R: Black Panther/T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Vision (Paul Bettany), Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and War Machine/James Rhodey (Don Cheadle). Photo Credit: Film Frame © Marvel 2016

Black Panther (far left) may appear on Team Iron Man, but he has a complicated back story with his own agenda. (Photo: Film Frame)

In Civil War, where does Black Panther stand among the Avengers?

As far the Avengers go, they are a means to an end for T’Challa. I think they earn his respect by the end of the movie but prior to that joining them is not something that he can even begin to consider.

He has his own agenda and his own world that he has to protect. He has his own lineage that he has to live up to, so he can’t just take orders from Iron Man or Captain America.

How is it working with Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans?

[Downey] is the coolest. Like, I want to be like him when I grow up! You see somebody like that who has accomplished so much, and he still cares about his craft enough to play. It’s just great to know you’re on the right path.

To see him affirm for other people around him at certain moments too without even really saying anything shows that he’s a leader. Then you see him off set, he’s even more cool.

[Evans has a] sense of humor when the camera’s off because it keeps everybody at ease. He’s the exact opposite when the camera’s on but he has those moments when that humor comes through as well. He’s not afraid to make fun of himself.

How did you approach bringing Black Panther to life?

I wanted to be as true as possible to the comic book character. The world he’s from inspire[s] you to pull from historical kings, warriors and kingdoms, especially those from African civilisations. That’s part of the fun of the role for me.

You also want to ground the character in something tangible and real. Talking to African people, listening to people from the continent.  And then there was definitely a lot of physical preparation for the role.

Did you do any stunt training?

I definitely did. I also brought my own trainer to beat me up every day.

I did martial arts training and some fight training with the stunts as well and definitely some weight training. I also did some Kali and some Capoiera. We played around with Jiu Jitsu and a lot of different things.

I always enjoy the physicality. Going through the process of training helps me to get into the other parts of the character as well.

Marvel's Captain America: Civil War Black Panther/T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal © Marvel 2016

(Photo: Zade Rosenthal)

How did you feel when you first saw yourself in costume?

The first thing is that I wondered if little kids were going to try to dress up like this on Halloween. That’s literally the first thing I thought. It’s black and at Halloween anything black is going to be a bestseller.

It remains to be seen whether that’s true but I feel like it’s going to be one of those killer costumes.

How has Civil War prepared you to do the rest of the franchise?

It definitely has given me the right questions and that’s what it’s all about for me—a puzzle to put together. It’s given me a sense of what the tone and style of the character should be.

If Black Panther were going into battle, who would he pick to go with?

I’m not going to take one of the guys. I would take Scarlet Witch or Black Widow.

The Black Panther standalone movie is slated for release in Summer of 2018. Captain America: Civil War is now showing in theatres.

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