To say that the Black Panther movie was successful would be an understatement. Aside from ruling the box office for several months and winning many prestigious awards, the film had the kind of once-in-a-generation impact that studios dream of. But success was not always assured, as John Kani, who played the role of Black Panther’s father King T’Chaka, revealed to South African Morning news when paying tribute to Black Panther’s lead actor Chadwick Boseman.
“It was an incredible presence of a young man who is incredibly tense, urgent, and absolutely focused. He knew most, more than us, that this was a moment of time, and it was Africa’s time. He felt quite seriously with Ryan Coogler, ‘Guys, we’ve got one chance to do an all-Black movie, in Hollywood, funded by Marvel, and to make it the biggest success we can. Because this opportunity might not come again.’ He was that kind of actor.”
It seems the late actor saw Black Panther as the kind of rare Hollywood opportunity that, if squandered, would shut the door on films for black superheroes for the next few years. But while Chadwick Boseman was conscious of the high stakes, he had a great deal of faith in the story they were telling through the film, as the movie’s director Ryan Coogler recently revealed while writing about the late actor.
“When preparing for the film, he would ponder every decision, every choice, not just for how it would reflect on himself, but how those choices could reverberate. “They not ready for this, what we are doing…” “This is Star Wars, this is Lord of the Rings, but for us… and bigger!” He would say this to me while we were struggling to finish a dramatic scene, stretching into double overtime. Or while he was covered in body paint, doing his own stunts. Or crashing into frigid water, and foam landing pads. I would nod and smile, but I didn’t believe him. I had no idea if the film would work. I wasn’t sure I knew what I was doing. But I look back and realize that Chad knew something we all didn’t. He was playing the long game. All while putting in the work. And work he did.”
Through all the doubts and obstacles, Boseman, Coogler, and the rest of the movie’s cast and crew kept their eyes on the goal, and succeeded in making a film for the history books, and adding a new dimension to the world of superheroes that extended beyond the shores of America, and which encompassed a group of people who had found little representation in the MCU until that point.
Coogler has already started work on Black Panther 2, and it was rumored, ever since Avnegers: Endgame made mention of underground earthquakes, that the Black Panther sequel will introduce Namor the Sub-Mariner into the MCU. How the franchise moves forward now that the lead actor has passed away remains to be seen.