9 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT…

BLACK PAN­THER After that trailer, here’s ev­ery­thing we’ve got on Mar­vel’s bold­est film yet

Empire (UK) - - PRE.VIEW - WORDS HELEN O’HARA ILLUSTRATION OLLY GIBBS

1 All aboard for Wakanda! Chad­wick Bose­man’s Black Pan­ther solo film, cour­tesy of di­rec­tor Ryan Coogler (Creed), is the fi­nal stand­alone ti­tle be­fore Avengers: In­fin­ity War. Chances it will prove to be the calm be­fore the storm? Slim to none.

2 The story sees King T’challa (Bose­man) re­turn­ing to his reclu­sive, tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced African na­tion of Wakanda to take his fa­ther’s place on the throne, fol­low­ing the events of Cap­tain

Amer­ica: Civil War. How­ever, he faces chal­lengers for his crown and “two foes” threat­en­ing to drag Wakanda into a world war. T’challa must don the Black Pan­ther suit again to fight for his peo­ple. Never a day’s peace for a blue-blooded bat­tler.

3 Two foes? The teaser shows that one is Andy Serkis’ Ulysses Klaue, who first ap­peared in Age Of Ul­tron. An arms dealer who made a for­tune smug­gling the price­less metal vi­bra­nium out of Wakanda, he’s still work­ing with en­e­mies of the coun­try’s royal fam­ily. Sadly for Klaue, he’s go­ing to spend a bit of time in cus­tody be­ing in­ter­ro­gated by Civil War’s CIA op­er­a­tive Everett Ross (Martin Free­man), a reg­u­lar Black Pan­ther col­lab­o­ra­tor.

4 But what about that sec­ond bad­die? If you study Klaue’s prison es­cape closely, you’ll see that he’s in ca­hoots with Michael B. Jor­dan as Erik Kill­mon­ger, aka N’jadaka. He’s a ge­nius strong­man na­tive to, but ex­iled from Wakanda, who has sworn re­venge on T’challa’s fam­ily and has his sights set on the throne.

5 This is not, how­ever, go­ing to be an­other su­per-sausage-fest. That’s partly be­cause of T’challa’s step­mother Ra­monda (An­gela Bas­sett) but mostly be­cause of the for­mi­da­ble Dora Mi­laje, the all-fe­male war­riors who come from the tribes of Wakanda and form a sort of mar­riage pool/bodyguard corps for the royal fam­ily. You’ve al­ready seen one of them in Florence Ka­sumba’s fear­some min­der from Civil War — she will be back.

6 Among that force is Leti­tia Wright as T’challa’s tech-ge­nius sis­ter Shuri, and The Walk­ing Dead’s Danai Gurira as Okoye, a loyal ally of T’challa’s. The fi­nal key Dora Mi­laje warrior is Lupita Ny­ong ’o’s Nakia. In the comics Nakia over­re­acts badly when T’challa re­jects her and be­comes the vil­lain Mal­ice, work­ing with Kill­mon­ger.

7 For­est Whi­taker plays Zuri, a Wakan­dan el­der states­man and T’challa’s men­tor. Coogler says that Whi­taker’s char­ac­ter plays an “Obi-wan Kenobi” role for T’challa.

8 Much of the con­flict is driven by vi­bra­nium, the (fic­tional) metal on which Wakanda’s for­tunes are based. It’s the ma­te­rial of BP’S cat­suit and claws, mak­ing him largely bul­let­proof. Could mis­use of vi­bra­nium be the cause of this po­ten­tial world war?

9 Which other Mar­vel char­ac­ters might ap­pear? We last saw Bucky ‘The Win­ter Soldier’ Barnes (Se­bas­tian Stan) go­ing into cryo­genic stor­age in T’challa’s back­yard, so there’s a pos­si­bil­ity he could be thawed out. More likely, how­ever, is a link that builds to­wards In­fin­ity War — which leaves the MCU cameo field wide open.

BLACK PAN­THER is in cinemas from 16 feb­ru­ary

King T’challa of Wakanda (Chad­wick Bose­man). Be­low: T’challa ready to pounce as the Black Pan­ther.

Cat peo­ple (left to right): Black Pan­ther and T’challa (Chad­wick Bose­man), di­rec­tor Ryan Coogler, Okoye (Danai Gurira), Nakia (Lupita Ny­ong’o), Ayo (Florence Ka­sumba) and Erik Kill­mon­ger (Michael B. Jor­dan).

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