Chadwick Boseman has played famous historical figures like Jackie Robinson, James Brown, and Thurgood Marshall, but he’s also been portraying another famous figure who is fictional — T’Challa, also known as the Black Panther of Marvel Comics fame. Boseman first played the character in Captain America: Civil War and in the upcoming Black Panther movie. One of the aspects that separates Black Panther from most of Marvel’s other heroes is that he is not American — in fact, he is the ruler of an African country that doesn’t actually exist in the real world. Boseman spoke to CNet about portraying T’Challa’s unique background on screen.
Boseman says that there were several unique aspects to Black Panther that made him want to play the character. He explains, “I love that he thinks about other people. He’s not afraid to hear wise counsel. I think there is some fear of being wrong. I identify with that, with his plight, his personality. And I love him because the fantasy of playing a ruler — you never get to do that. You never get to explore what that is. It’s fun having power and having a say in what happens to the people around you.”
While many real-life rulers are European-educated, Boseman felt that would run counter to the values of Black Panther’s fictional Wakanda. He says:
“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’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. 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. “