“Tell me something…what do you know about Wakanda?” is the first line heard during the opening moments of the teaser trailer for 2018’s Black Panther. Chadwick Boseman, who portrays the titular hero, revealed what he knows of the fictional country, describing it as a utopia.
Asked to describe Wakanda in an interview with c|net, Boseman’s response was to the point. “It’s a utopia,” he said. “It’s not just an African utopia — it’s a utopia. It’s a place where spirituality and science do not war with each other.”
Boseman went on to explain how the utopian nature of Wakanda influenced the development of the accent he speaks with while portraying Wakanda’s king, T’Challa. “People think about how race has affected the world. It’s not just in the States. Colonialism is the cousin of slavery. 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,” the actor explained. “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.”
“If I did that, I would be conveying a white supremacist idea of what being educated is and what being royal or presidential is,” Boseman continued. “Because it’s not just about him running around fighting. He’s the ruler of a nation. And if he’s the ruler of a nation, he has to speak to his people. He has to galvanize his people. And there’s no way I could speak to my people, who have never been conquered by Europeans, with a European voice.”
Black Panther, written and directed by Ryan Coogler, opens in theaters on February 16, 2018, and stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross, Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue, and Forest Whitaker as Zuri.
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