‘Black Panther’ Director And Cast Talk The Dora Milaje And Representation

During Marvel’s Comic-Con panel in San Diego on Saturday, the cast and director of Black Panther took to the stage. Ryan Coogler, Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, and Lupita Nyong’o all arrived to welcome the screaming fans and to deliver some exciting news regarding the growing cast.

Jordan and Nyong’o were the latest to be added to the cast, having been announced earlier this summer. The characters they are playing are being kept under wraps, with some speculating that the Fruitvale Station actor would be playing a villain in the film.

But during Marvel’s Hall H panel, it was revealed that Michael B. Jordan is playing villain Erik Killmonger in Black Panther. The character was born in Wakanda but is later exiled from the country by king T’CHalla and later comes back seeking revenge. This is going to be the third film Jordan and Ryan Coogler have done together.

Lupita Nyong’o will be playing Nakia, a member of the Dora Milaje – T’Challa/Black Panther’s female bodyguards and elite security force. Nakia eventually turned into a villain in the Black Panther comics known as Malice.

Another cast member of the movie was also announced at the panel. The Walking Dead‘s Danai Gurira came on stage and was revealed to be playing Okoye, leader of the Dora Milaje.

Black Panther‘s cast and director sat down with Entertainment Weekly following their panel and talked a little about representation in today’s comic book movies.

“The superhero field is a field where there’s not a lot of representation,” the Creed director told EW. Though this is something that Marvel Studios has been paying attention to. Their Spider-Man: Homecoming project has probably the most racially diverse cast of actors and actresses of any MCU movie.

“It’s traditionally white male, but the fans look like the world,” Ryan continued. “So, naturally, people are going to yearn to see someone flying around doing these incredible things that looks like them. It’s an incredible opportunity, but that’s what keeps me up at night – for better and for worse.”

What is also noteworthy about Black Panther are the Dora Milaje. The audience is going to get to see somewhat of a completely different world when we’re introduced to Wakanda in 2018, and the women of Wakanda are extremely important to the fictional country and culture.

“The thing that’s really cool about Wakanda that we know from the books, that’s consistent with all the different stories, is that they worship the panther goddess,” Coogler explained to EW. “It’s a place where gender roles are very different than how we see them in today’s age. The Dora Milaje are the most elite fighters in the country, and you can only be a woman in the Dora Milaje.”

Someone else who is also expected to appear in Black Panther is actor Andy Serkis. The actor played Ulysses Klaue, better known as “Klaw” in the comics, in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, and stole a large amount of Vibranium from Wakanda. Given that this is the same material Captain America’s shield is made from, Vibranium should continue to play an important role within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

But Coogler mentions that there is much more to the nation of Wakanda than just their highly coveted vibranium.

“In our Wakanda, it’s not vibranium that makes them special,” Coogler says. “It’s their culture and who they are that makes them special. It just so happens that they have this mineral there that they use.”

Black Panther is going to begin production in January of 2017.

Black Panther is slated for release on February 16, 2018.

[Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney]

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