That will be amongst the best ensembles we’ve ever had and 90% of the cast is either African or African-American.
It’s a step that Marvel took many years ago in the comics, as well. It felt like it’s more than time to do that in the movies.
The Marvel Universe — The cast of Marvel’s Black Panther has really started to come together in the last few weeks. Back in November of 2014, BW reported that Chadwick Boseman signed to star as the superhero Black Panther in five films, beginning with Captain America: Civil War. This past week has seen two major additions, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens actress Lupita Nyong’o along with Fantastic Four and Creed star Michael B. Jordan. Now comes a report that most of the cast will be made up of African-American or African actors. Which makes sense, since the story will be primarily set in the fictional African city of Wakanda.
No other cast has been announced at this time, but there are reportedly several other key roles that need to be filled. While Jordan is being called the ‘villain’, exactly which character he is playing has not yet been divulged. Jordan is the second actor to play the Human Torch for Fox to later be recruited by Marvel for a different role, following Marvel’s Captain America, Chris Evans. The film will have Jordan reteaming with Creed and Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler for a third time.
Lupita Nyong’o, the Oscar-winning star of 12 Years a Slave, will be playing part of the Dora Milaje, an elite group of female bodyguards who are also potential candidates to become the new queen of Wakanda. Her character hasn’t been officially confirmed at this point, either. One member of the Dora Milaje was revealed in Captain America: Civil War, which also showed the death of T’challa’s father, T’chaka (John Kani).
“That will be among the best ensembles we’ve ever had,” Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige recently told The Empire Film Podcast, “and 90 percent of the cast is either African or African-American.”
Considering that Black Panther, Marvel Comics’ first black superhero, is the king of the technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda, Feige’s statement might seem obvious: Of course a majority of the actors will be African or African-American. However, it comes as Marvel addresses whitewashing accusations in its casting of Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in “Doctor Strange,” DreamWorks faces similar criticisms for its remake of “Ghost in the Shell,” and Hollywood studios are under increased scrutiny for a lack of diversity in front of and behind the camera.
When it was pointed out in the interview that having a superhero film with an African character in the lead is “a huge step for Marvel,” Feige replied, “It’s a step that Marvel took many years ago in the comics as well, and it felt like it’s more than due time to do that in the movie.”
“Black Panther” is directed by Ryan Coogler (“Creed”) from his own script, with Joe Robert Cole (American Crime Story) who is a graduate of Marvel Studios’ old in-house writers program, writing an earlier draft. Producer Kevin Feige recently revealed that production will begin in early 2017, while teasing that casting announcements will start to be made this summer. We don’t know how many major characters have yet to be cast, or if a previously-established character with Wakandan ties will return. Last summer’s Avengers: Age of Ultron introduced fans to Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), although we don’t know for sure if he will be back in Black Panther. He may be part of the 10% non-African cast.