Captain America: Civil War is going to be a groundbreaking Marvel film for a lot of reasons — it'll be the first time Avengers are pitted against Avengers as protagonists and antagonists, but it's also the first time we'll meet the Marvel character Black Panther. Aside from the obvious first that this is modern Marvel's first black superhero, it's also the first time an Avenger will make his debut in another Avengers movie before getting his own planned standalone movie. Got that? It's better if you just read what star Chadwick Boseman, best known for biopics 42 and Get on Up, told me and a group of reporters when we visited the Civil War set last Summer. Read on for how much we'll learn about the new character in this Marvel sequel!
1. How does Black Panther fit into this movie? Is this is an origin story?
Chadwick Boseman: I'm just kind of thrown into the middle. It's definitely not an origin story, no.
2. When we meet you, are you already Black Panther?
CB: You meet me as the Prince of Wakanda. You meet me as a politician/monarch, not as a superhero.
3. So will we see that transformation in this film?
CB: It's not necessarily a transformation. I am just thrown into the mix. To answer your question, yes, I am already a Black Panther — a Black Panther, yeah.
4. Do we get to see Wakanda [T'Challa/Black Panther's fictional home country] at all?
CB: No. Sorry. I know you thought you were because of Age of Ultron, but . . . [laughs] It's not happening.
5. Is Wakanda known throughout the whole world, or is it still a secretive society?
CB: Wakanda is known to the world, yes. [Laughs]
6. Is there a Wakandan accent, or do you just speak in your regular voice?
CB: Yeah, there's a Wakandan accent.
7. What was it like putting on the costume for the first time?
CB: It's hot. It's blazing hot. Listen, it's so hot. I've never been that hot before in my life, seriously.
8. Is the costume all one piece, or is it a multiple-step process to get into it?
CB: I can't tell you that. [Laughs] I can't tell you that because I don't want you picturing how it happens. It's not cute.
9. You're in this movie with all the other actors playing characters that they've already established. Were they able to give you any pointers?
CB: You know what, I don't think there's any way for anybody to prepare you for this. I just think people have been very gracious in welcoming me on set, and even off set. What was more important was, you know, Chris [Evans] has been very cool in terms of inviting me to stuff and giving me a hard time in the best way. His sense of humor is great. Robert Downey has been great as well, [Anthony] Mackie — everybody. Everybody's been cool. Don Cheadle. I've seen a lot of them separate from being here, so it didn't feel like when I got here it was like all of a sudden meeting them for the first time.
10. You've had a recent run of playing iconic figures in history, like James Brown and Jackie Robinson. What's appealing about someone like Black Panther?
CB: That he's fictional. [Laughs] That's the main thing. I don't have to — not that I didn't like doing this. I loved interacting with the family members, the Brown family members, the Robinson family members. But in this case, I don't have to go talk to the Queen of Wakanda.
11. But you do have that expectation of knowing about the comic book character. How much research did you do, or were you already familiar?
CB: No, I was not totally familiar. I think what you try to do is just get your hands on every single comic book you can find that has the character in it, or him being mentioned or anything. I've just tried to read them all — not like it's really work. It is work — don't get me wrong — it is work, but it's just sort of reading them like a kid, you know? Because when you just read it like it's work, you're just trying to get through it. So I think it's putting yourself in that mind frame to go through the mythology in a fun way. And then, also, I've gone to South Africa, gone to some places, to see some things that I think relate to the character, and let those things sort of fuel your workouts, fuel your sessions when you work on the part.
12. Did you read a lot of comic books as a kid, and if so who were some of your favorites?
CB: I didn't, I didn't. I wasn't a comic book geek as a kid. I read some, but it was just like, "Oh, I have this comic book here." It wasn't like I was collecting them. I didn't really collect much of anything — baseball cards, nothing. I had some of them too, but I wasn't a collector. But this has been a much more aggressive intake of that material. It is interesting too because it's different than watching the films, different than reading a novel or anything else. I think it helps you a lot as a filmmaker because the exposition and things that happen in a film are done much differently than they are in a comic book, but some things do coincide. So I think it helps you as an artist.
13. What separates your character from some of the other heroes that we've seen in terms of abilities, weapons, etc.?
CB: I can't say, if you're talking about his abilities. He's not the strongest, you know what I'm saying? He's not necessarily the fastest, but he's strong and he's fast. He has a wit, a wisdom, and a plan — an overarching plan — that a lot of times you don't necessarily see. So it's his strategy during a fight or during a battle. As far as the comic book goes, I think that's different. As far as this movie, you know, this is an introduction to the character.
14. Do you see a lot of action in this movie?
CB: I see a fair share, I see a fair share . . . I think the difference in him is that he's a ruler of a country. That's the difference. I wouldn't even call him a superhero. In the mythology of the country, he's not a superhero. He's a warrior, and it's part of their tradition. It's not like he's like, "Who is that masked guy that's doing this stuff?" Everybody knows it's him, and they expect that it's him, and they pray to God, or even him in some cases, that he would do the things that he's doing. Which is much different than most of the superheroes in which you don't know their identity and you don't know when they might show up. There's an expectation that's much different. So that's the main difference.
15. You mentioned this was the introduction to your character. How do the events of this film inform Black Panther's solo film?
CB: Well, just in a basic way. You're seeing him in the larger scheme of things, like fighting outside of his country. So it will definitely affect what you see later. That's all I can say. [Laughs]
16. This is the first time we've seen a Marvel movie introduce a major character in a film knowing that there will also be a solo film for him. What do you feel makes this story right for introducing Black Panther?
CB: Like if I was doing my own comedy show on HBO or something, in most cases I would go do stand-up at The Comedy Store in LA or some local spot, and I would gear up to do that. So when you see Thor, you know, "Who's going to be Thor?" that's a rough way to do it. Particularly, in this case, a lot of people don't know who Black Panther is. So I think they're really smart to introduce him and let people know, "Oh, yeah, this guy was one of the major comic book characters. He was part of the Avengers." That history is important for people to get before you have a standalone movie. So I think it's the best way to do it, absolutely.
17. But you assume that Black Panther the movie takes place after Civil War. You assume it's not set in the past.
CB: I don't think you can assume anything, because there's also such a thing as a prequel also. I think anything is possible.