Chadwick Boseman was aware of many things when it came to his portrayal of what a man from a secluded African country would look like in Black Panther. It wasn't just the way he looked or acted — it was even down to the way he spoke. Boseman spoke to CNet about the accent and the intonation that T'Challa uses.
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'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.
When it comes to Wakanda, there doesn't appear to be much in the way of gender issues. T'Challa is surrounded by a bunch of warrior women, and no one appears to have an issue with that. Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, is head of technology. Boseman was asked about the presumption that some men have that women aren't smart enough for the S.T.E.M. fields.
Do they really think that women are not smart enough? [laughs] Women are so much smarter than men most of the time. [laughs] It's crazy to think that you go to work and all of a sudden you get smarter. When you go home, your wife is obviously smarter than you. [laughs] She gives better directions. She can multitask better. You know you can't beat her, whatever it is. It's like, "I'm not going to argue with any of that." Your woman is always smarter. She can catch you in your lies. [laughs]
Boseman went on the talk about how Shuri is actually smarter and more important than T'Challa, and this is something that has been true throughout the comics.
If anyone doesn't think there's a place for women in tech, it's completely demolished in this movie. Her role is the most important. In the comic book, T'Challa is a scientist and a king, but my sister is the whiz kid. She is the one with that gift. She's the Tony Stark of Wakanda. She's witty, she's cool, she's funny. Now, T'Challa is good in science too, but she's the whiz. That's the way the story's been told forever. T'Challa is technologically sound. He's a scientist as well, but she's the minister of technology.
Wakanda doesn't have time for your antiquated gender roles — they're too busy being awesome. And all of the women in Black Panther look like they're going to be next-level characters — not only for women of color, but for women who want to explore the S.T.E.M. fields, as well as the countless warrior women who already risk their lives in combat.
Summary: T'Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.
Black Panther, directed Ryan Coogler, stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, and Martin Freeman. It will be released on February 16th, 2018.