When Chadwick Boseman received the call from his agent to play Marvel Comics character Black Panther, he hesitated.
This came as a surprise to the media at the eponymous superhero film’s press conference on Monday at the Four Seasons hotel in Seoul, South Korea.
Some of the movie’s action scenes were shot in the coastal city of Busan.
But speaking to brothers Anthony and Joe Russo – the directors of two Captain America movies and the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War – and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige convinced Boseman to star in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and then reprise his role as T’Challa, king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, in his solo spin-off that opens here on Feb 14.
The 41-year-old US actor, who was joined by director Ryan Coogler and castmates Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan, said: “In short, they told me they wanted me to play a role and were so secretive about it that they didn’t even mention the name of the movie.
“They asked, ‘I think you know what it is, are you interested?'”
Boseman, who previously had never accepted a role without reading the script or knowing who the director was, is thankful for doing just that.
He said: “At this moment, it is amazing to see what we have done with the movie.
“To see what it is about, the cultural impact it has and to know it is of substance.”
Following the death of his father T’Chaka in Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced Wakanda.
But when a powerful old enemy reappears, his mettle as king and Black Panther is tested when he is plagued with the strife of opening up his country to the world.
Marking a cultural milestone for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the movie industry as a whole with its predominantly African and African-American cast, Black Panther tackles the issue of isolationism.
And to the “Busan Panther”, as he is affectionately nicknamed by Korean fans, that is what sets him apart from other action heroes.
“The fact that a superhero, who is also a world leader, faces the problems that are usually associated with the head of a nation speaks volumes of the monumental tasks he has to deal with,” Boseman said.
“World leaders are usually misunderstood because people are not privy to what they know, and they are often accused of taking action or not making the right decision.
“T’Challa is placed in that situation, by family, friends and his enemies.
“Wakanda, as determined by his ancestors, has been practising isolationism, and the idea of T’Challa breaking those walls of isolation – now that, is revolutionary.”
That struggle was indeed what US film-maker Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed) had in mind when he wanted to focus on that one “big conflict”.
Unlike Boseman, the 31year-old was more than ready to come onboard the landmark project, as the opportunity to work with the talented actors was too good to turn down.
He said: “It feels amazing to be part of this, given my huge love for superhero comic books and movies. So it has been a real blessing.”
Images: TPG/Click Photos
Text: Narendaren Karnageran / The New Paper / February 2018
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