Black Panther Director Says the Film is His Most Personal Film to Date
He also says that the movie explores what it means to be African.
For Ryan Coogler, Black Panther was an opportunity to wrestle with questions he’s been dealing with his entire life. Coogler walked into the film hoping to have a strong focus on African identity, which can clearly be seen just from the few glimpses of footage we’ve gotten.
"This film is possibly the most personal film I've made to date," Coogler told the Sydney Morning Herald. "To me it deals with the answer to a question that I've been asking myself since I was very young, what does it mean to be African? That idea, that concept, I was very interested in and drawn towards. I was able to explore that in making this film. It enabled me to fulfill a longlife dream of going to the continent of Africa, researching, for the first time. The things that I learned about the continent and the things that I learned about myself were invaluable. I tried to put some of that energy into the project."
When it comes to the bigger picture, Coogler highlights how important it is that every kid sees a reflection of themselves in media, especially with the power that films and TV have thanks to their popularity. The Marvel project, which boasts a stellar mix of veteran and rising Black actors, certainly has the ability to further social awareness and representation in Hollywood content:
“Representation is something that can be very powerful. It definitely has the potential to make particular markets who feel under-served in terms of the superhero genre feel like they’re being included in something.”
This is Coogler’s third film, and arguably his least grounded, but it’s interesting to see how the fantastical and playful world of comic-book movies allowed him to further explore himself. It’s always great to see small, personal ideas and motifs packaged as big-blockbusters because that way they’re accessible to everybody.
“Black Panther” follows T’Challa who, after the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to take his place as King. However, when an old enemy reappears on the radar, T’Challa’s mettle as King and Black Panther is tested when he is drawn into a conflict that puts the entire fate of Wakanda and the world at risk.
Directed by Ryan Coogler, the film stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Florence Kasumba, Sterling K. Brown, Andy Serkis and John Kan.
Black Panther lands on its feet in theaters on February 16.