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Chadwick Boseman Talks Matriarchal Leadership, Strong Sisters, and Women Who Challenge the King in Black Panther

The three "Black Panther" character posters for Nakia, Okoye, and Shuri

With the Black Panther release date fast approaching, press is starting to pick up and we’re getting more clips, more information about the villain, and more interviews. As part of a set visit with reporters, star Chadwick Boseman, who plays T’Challa/Black Panther, was asked what the female characters bring to the story.

“Usually you have the damsel in distress,” he said. “I don’t think there are any damsels in distress in this movie. That doesn’t exist in this movie. Like you say, all these characters are strong. Even if it’s not a physical prowess, there is a mental prowess. It’s intelligence and savvy and so all of them present that.”

Boseman first talked about Shuri, the younger sister of T’Challa who’s played by Letitia Wright. “It’s not very often that you see a superhero with a little sister,” he said. “So I think that is probably not going to occur to people, but – it’s not unheard of, but it’s an unusual thing. So I think it brings out a different part of his character … But the one that stands out the most actually is Shuri, because of the way a little sister can poke at you, and you’re protective of her but she still thinks she’s your mother. Like, all those different things. And the actress has those qualities. I think she just makes you happy as soon as you see her. Everyday she comes in and you’re like, ‘Oh shoot, it just changed my attitude about everything.'”

He then turned to Ramonda, T’Challa’s mother played by Angela Bassett. “She’s incredible to watch,” Boseman said, “and again, she’s always really strong. I would say in this movie, because my father is dead, it gives me the opportunity to look to her for wisdom, and I think it shows the matriarchal African society in doing that. So she’s an advisor that I would go to. And it’s a close relationship; it’s not just like, ‘She’s my mother, she’s on the side.’ She’s not a figurehead mother.”

When it came to Lupita N’yongo’s Nakia, a Wakandan spy, and Danai Gurira’s Okoye, the head of the Dora Milaje, Boseman was a bit more secretive. “I’m not going to really talk about their characters too much,” he said. “But just to have [Lupita and Danai] here, I mean, it’s just a beautiful thing. I love them as actresses. They challenge the director every day. He’s like, ‘They’re getting in me.’ So they challenge him every day, and they bring those same challenges that their characters have.”

“They sort of attack T’Challa in the same way,” he said. “They’re not afraid to challenge him. So I think it’s cool to have conflict that’s not I’m going to kill you conflict. You need other types of conflict to bring out other parts of your character. So I think the fact that they present conflict without being enemies, in most cases, then that’s a cool thing.”

Black Panther arrives in theaters on February 16, 2018.

(Via /Film; image: Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios)

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