Black Panther is coming out on February 16, 2018, and hear you me, it’s going to be A1. How do I know it’s going to be A1? For starters, it’s become increasingly apparent that writer-director-Gawd Ryan Coogler is casting like he is running Real Madrid, and will not be satisfied with anything less than the best starting lineup in the history of the game. Obviously, Chadwick Boseman will be reprising his role as T’Challa, the titular Wakandan warrior king who, as you’ll recall from Captain America: Civil War, has no time for your quippy, spandex-clad Cracker Jack nonsense and no more patience to pretend otherwise.
But this time, we’ve also got all of T’Challa’s friends, played by the World XI. There’s Black Death as W’Kabi, T’Challa’s head of security — face like an anvil, agreeability of a sledgehammer — and [takes inordinately long pull from oxygen tank, ambles closer with widened eyes for dramatic effect] Forest Whitaker as Zuri, T’Challa’s oldhead bodyguard-slash-confessor-slash-drunk-uncle-figure. Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead), Florence Kasumba, and Lupita Nyong’o are all in the king’s elite, all-female warrior guard. Their official title is Dora Milaje which, when translated directly from its original Wakandan, I believe means “you ready to meet God?”
Christopher Darden is playing N’Jobu, a “mysterious friend” from T’Challa’s past. John Watson is playing his White House attaché. TINA TURNER is going to be his mother. On top of all that, Michael B. Jordan hulked back up to Adonis Creed pre-weigh-in size for his role as the villain Killmonger, who’s exactly as overbearing and homicidal and power-hungry as you’d expect someone named “Killmonger” to be. It’s stacked. Like, Lincoln Railsplitters stacked.
But as anyone else who broke a 20 to be held hostage for two and a half hours by Suicide Squad this past summer will tell you, a star-studded cast is far from a guarantee that a blockbuster superhero film won’t be butt. Which brings me to the next reason I know Black Panther is going to be A1, courtesy of a synopsis released by Marvel Studios on Thursday, as the movie began production in Atlanta:
This is fire for a few reasons:
- That synopsis sounds a lot like the conceit of a few of the story arcs from the Christopher Priest run of Black Panther comics in the late ’90s. In Priest’s care, T’Challa was basically Batman, but richer and with generally more sauce. More formidable intellect, too. And more powerful. And of course, you know, black. That is to say, this is a good place to be pulling from.
- Priest’s stories swung freely between political thrillers, sappy daytime soap operas, and punchy sitcoms, but like (and perhaps better than) those who wrote the series before him, Priest mined T’Challa’s character for deeper meaning, exploring how the surrounding world interacts with him, and him with it. Most of T’Challa’s problems arise from being misunderstood, and things are only really out of his control when he lets that cloud his judgment. If it feels like I’m being vague it’s only because I don’t want to spoil any of Priest’s comics for you should you choose to read them, which you should, at your earliest convenience. If you want an in-depth rundown, Evan Narcisse at Kotaku has you covered.
- I will say this means there’s a greater than zero percent chance that Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan are going to be in an exotic locale, discussing the boons and banes of free will while throwing each other through tree trunks at some point. Probably to a Ludwig Goransson remix of a deep cut from Dreamchasers 4.
Like I said, Black Panther is going to be A1. Let’s all agree to meet back here 13 months from now, and discuss just how A1 it was.