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Black Panther movie - release date, trailer, cast, and everything you need to know

The Black Panther movie’s release date was brought forward to February 2018 because it plays a key part in setting up April 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, ‘linking’ to that story according to Marvel’s Kevin Feige. Filming on Black Panther begins in January 2017, with Creed director Ryan Coogler at the helm, who is currently working on the script along with writer Joe Robert Cole at Marvel Studios. Black Panther was first announced in October 2014 alongside the casting of Chadwick Boseman, when Marvel outlined its ambitious plans for Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Most of Black Panther’s ensemble was revealed at Comic Con in July 2016, but there are likely to be more casting announcements in future. Chadwick Boseman, introduced as the new king of fictional African nation Wakanda in Captain America: Civil War, returns to the role of T’Challa. He’s joined by a cast familiar to anyone with an eye on popular culture. 

Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead’s Michonne) plays Okoye and Lupita Nyong’o plays Nakia, who together form the Dora Milaje, the Black Panther’s well-trained personal bodyguards. In this movie, it’s been reported that Okoye will be the leader of the Dora Milaje, and that Nakia will have a ‘complicated’ relationship with her.

Michael B Jordan plays Erik Killmonger in Black Panther, reuniting him with Coogler after the two worked together on his previous pictures, Fruitvale Station and Creed.

With filming beginning in 2017, there was nothing to show of the movie at Comic Con this year, and Marvel chose to focus on the cast reveals. Expect your first trailer glance of Black Panther’s standalone to debut alongside one of Marvel’s 2017 movies - most likely, Spider-Man Homecoming or Thor Ragnarok, in July or October respectively, based on how the timeframe of these things usually pans out. Spider-Man seems more plausible.

There’s no official Black Panther synopsis yet, and the cast and director were mostly silent on specifics at SDCC 2016, but a few detailed hints about the film’s story are out there. It takes place shortly after the events of Civil War. Feige describes the movie as “a big geopolitical action adventure that focuses on the family and royal struggle of T'Challa in Wakanda, and what it means to be a king.” He’s also said that this film will explore Wakanda as a setting and a culture - essentially, it’s a whole new part of the MCU we haven’t seen yet, outside of the post-credits scene to Captain America: Civil War, which suggested that Wakanda will face external threats in its near future. 

Coogler has described Black Panther as his ‘most personal film’. “We start with who T’Challa is,” Coogler told “He’s an African King, he inherited his throne, and that’s the most important thing about him... That’s the biggest job that he has, and how that affects his personal life and how that affects the country that he’s in charge of, it kind of lends itself to its own story that is so different from anything that we’ve ever seen.” 

Co-star Lupita Nyong’o dropped some additional clues in an interview with during a Comic Con livestream, which highlights the ruling angle of the character. “The story is that Black Panther’s leadership is being threatened by two foes that come together, and so Black Panther gets the help of the CIA and the Dora Milaje to try to defeat the enemy.” Who could those two villains be? We know one of them based on the casting announcements - the other, not so much, but we can speculate...

This is the key difference between Black Panther and most other superheroes (Aquaman and Namor are exceptions): he rules his own nation, and is responsible for all of his people. Comic book stories featuring the hero of late have focused on that part of Black Panther’s DNA. What we know from the comics about Erik Killmonger, Black Panther’s foe co-created by influential Panther writer Don McGregor, is that he’s previously competed with T’Challa for the right to rule Wakanda. 

The second possible villain may have already appeared in a prior MCU film. We will get to that…

It’s not a Marvel film without a cameo or two from other parts of that universe. Civil War points in the direction of two possible appearances from certain characters in Black Panther. The most blatant of these is Everett K Ross, an emissary of sorts to Wakanda played by Martin Freeman, who in the comics has offered a kind of framed narrative perspective of the Black Panther’s world. Freeman hasn’t been confirmed for the standalone movie, but his brief appearance in Civil War was obviously with an eye to the future - and Ross is a Black Panther-originated character, so this is the film where his presence makes the most sense.

Another possibility is the appearance of the Winter Soldier, or Bucky, played by Sebastian Stan from the Captain America movies. In the post-credits sequence of Civil War, we saw T’Challa put one-armed Bucky into a kind of cryogenic freeze state in a Wakandan lab - the choice of location is unlikely to be an accident. 

I don’t personally think Black Panther needs an appearance from Bucky to provide, say, some extra firepower in a pinch, which on the surface is where his presence would make the most sense. The opportunity to highlight how different Wakanda is from the rest of the MCU is surely enough meat for the foundation of this movie - then again, Marvel likely wouldn’t have left Bucky there without some eventual plan to bring him back (Sebastian Stan has a long nine-picture contract for Marvel movies). Could Black Panther mark his next appearance? Homecoming! Train car!

Finally, Avengers: Age of Ultron, the first movie to mention Wakanda by name and reference it as the source of vibranium, the fictional metal that makes up Cap’s shield, may have introduced another Black Panther movie villain. Klaw, played by Andy Serkis, had his hand chopped off by Ultron. He’s actually a key part of Black Panther’s history in the comics, and this movie presents the possibility of his return.

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