This article has been updated to include the latest Black Panther images.
Entertainment Weekly has published more photos of the Black Panther cast in character. The series of portraits includes one of Okoye, played by The Walking Dead star Danai Gurira. In the image, she’s dressed in her uniform as head of the Dora Milaje, a crack unit of women assigned the task of protecting the king and kingdom of Wakanda. She’s also, intriguingly, giving us the old side-eye.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told EW: “Danai Gurira is going to steal every scene that she’s in as the head of the Dora Milaje, the all-female secret service to T’Challa”.
EW sat down with Gurira on set to talk about her role, and she teased that there could be an interesting dynamic to Okoye’s relationship with Wakandan special agent Nakia. Played by Lupita Nyong’o, Nakia has romantic entanglements with Chadwick Boseman’s king T’Challa/Black Panther. When EW asked Gurira if their characters were friends or rivals, she said, “We’ll have to see. Maybe I have told you too much already.”
Could these two women be at loggerheads over the affections of T’Challa perhaps?
The rest of the portraits comprise shots of Black Panther in his Vibranium armour; Nakia smiling slightly and brandishing her ring blade; T’Challa’s friend W’Kabi, sister Shuri and mother Ramonda; Forest Whitaker’s shaman character Zuri; dissident Erik Killmonger; and another rival of T’Challa’s, M’Baku.
Original article follows below.
EW has published its Comic-Con 2017 preview issue and leads with a host of new images and information on Marvel’s Black Panther. Without further ado, let’s dive right into the biggest takeaways from this box of delights.
1. Women are equal to men
The Wakanda Royal Portrait image features an equal number of men and women – and all look like they mean business. Refreshingly, there’s no hint of objectification here – unlike in many other superhero-movie promotional shots which love to show off a shapely rear end. The portrait features the ‘King Mother’, Ramonda, standing with a loyal hand touching her son T’Challa’s shoulder. You’ll also spot undercover operative Nakia sitting high up on the steps, T’Challa’s sister Shuri perched at the bottom of the staircase and the spear-wielding Okoye.
Okoye is the head of the Dora Milaje, an elite all-female special forces team assigned to protect the king and kingdom. It also sounds like this particular character will be three-dimensional – a luxury that’s not always afforded to women characters.
“She can be serious, but she also has an unexpected sense of humor,” says Denai Gurira who plays her. “She has a heart, but for her country and for her people. She’s not a person who doesn’t connect to human beings as a result of what she does.”
2. It’s James Bond meets ‘The Godfather’
Executive Producer Nate Moore told EW: “What I think we landed on was sort of a cross between James Bond and The Godfather.” He adds: “A big, operatic family drama centered on a world of international espionage.”
That manifests itself in Black Panther via a fully ‘licensed to kill’ hero blended with the epic story of a son taking on the role of patriarch following the assassination of his father, the reigning king of Wakanda. Following on from the events of Captain America: Civil War, the fallout from the king’s death sparks claims to power by five separate families.
3. There’s a romantic subplot
T’Challa – aka Black Panther – is the incoming king of Wakanda. He has an on-off romance with spy Nakia. We’re told that it’s the nature of her job that threatens their stability as a couple since she’s often away. Lupita Nyong’o who plays the character told EW: “In her journey in this film, she has to really choose between her passion for her calling and her passion for her king.”
Interestingly, the Black Panther himself, Chadwick Bozeman, reveals that T’Challa’s mother – Angela Bassett’s Ramonda – interferes: “She has her hands in everything — even his love life.” This could well be the source of some comedy in the film.
4. There are some cool weapons
We’re particularly enamoured by Shuri’s panther fists, which look like they pack a powerful punch – and more. Shuri will have likely fashioned these herself – she’s a tech whizz and is a dab hand with Vibranium, the prized material Wakanda protects.
Nakia, meanwhile, is the proud owner of what the production team call ‘ring blades’. Nate Moore told EW: “The ones Lupita carries while in the green outfit are based on traditional African weaponry. However, she does get a hi-tech upgrade later in the film, compliments of Shuri.”
We can’t wait to see what other gadgets and weaponry Shuri’s responsible for.
5. It shares a big plot detail with ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’
It seems arms dealing is all the rage. Movies definitely have a habit of tapping into the zeitgeist, that’s for sure. And just as Michael Keaton’s Spider-Man antagonist Adrian Toomes/Vulture deals in weapons made from Chitauri technology, Andy Serkis’s Ulysses Klaue is keen on pilfering Vibranium to use in weapons to peddle on the black market.
Serkis told EW: “As long as he can amass fortune and cause disruption in the world at the same time, I think he’s a happy man”, which hints at the real threat posed by Klaue – namely the secrets he could reveal about Wakanda to the world.
Klaue is in cahoots with Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger who has turned against T’Challa because he thinks he’d make a better leader than him.
6. Forest Whitaker is a drug dealer
Well, he’s not, strictly speaking. Except he kind of is – his shaman character deals in a herb that gives the new leader superpowers. The substance in question is called the Heart-Shaped Herb, a plant that only grows in Wakanda and is boosted by its Vibranium content.
7. There’s a big action scene set in a casino
From what we can piece together, it seems that it could kick off with a confrontation between Martin Freeman’s CIA operative Everett K. Ross and Serkis’s Klaue while Nakia, Okoye and T’Challa look on. Ross has been welcomed into Wakanda as a trusted ally, and works together with T’Challa to bring down Klaue.
Of the scene in question, Marvel honcho Kevin Feige said: “Lupita, Danai, and Chad will walk in dressed to the nines. Klaue is there and it’s a big action scene. It’s important that this all feels big, glossy, and entertaining at the same time.”
You can view the rest of the Black Panther images here.
Black Panther hits screens on February 16, 2018.