Ryan Coogler, Winston Duke and Letitia Wright Talk Black Panther at Comic-Con

We got to chat with director Ryan Coogler and cast members Winston Duke and Letitia Wright about Black Panther at Comic-Con

At San Diego Comic-Con, the Marvel Studios panel showed impressive Black Panther footage that had the audience cheering. Though it has yet to be released (you can check out our live blog from Hall H for a description), we got a chance to chat with director Ryan Coogler as well as Winston Duke, who plays M’Baku, and Letitia Wright, who plays Shuri.

Ryan Coogler spoke to us about introducing some of the lesser known characters in the film. He said, “I mean, I think that the process was relatively simple. We looked at the comic books, we looked at almost every run of Panther. We looked at everybody from – obviously the early [Jack] Kirby stuff to Christopher Priest and [Jonathan] Hickman and Ta-Nehisi [Coates], the most recent one, when we first got started on it. We kind of picked and pulled the characters we worked best for the story we were trying to tell and I think when people see the film it will be pretty natural, because you can’t can’t run a country without a good team around you. It’s impossible. It’s kind of like natural that these characters would pop up.” We asked if there was a particular run that was particularly influential in this film. Coogler told us, “You know, I would say they all very really – we pulled from all of them. Like, I think we probably pulled the most from Christopher Priest. He kind of had the longest, most robust run. But we pulled from everybody. We pulled from [Reginald] Hudlin. Every writer had their touch.”

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Letitia Wright was at her first Comic-Con and said it was “actually amazing.” She said that having Shuri introduced during the panel was great. “I’m looking forward to people seeing more of Shuri. Shuri is fun! Shuri is a lot of fun and she’s going to be an inspiration to a lot of kids, a lot of young people. She’s a great character. When things get tough, Shuri is there to lighten it up.” We asked if she was a sort of comic relief, but she laughed, “I don’t know if I’d say comic relief, because that puts the pressure on me.” She said, “She’s just someone who doesn’t take things too seriously? She also said that the weapon you see her with isn’t the only one she uses.

As she left, she joked with Winston Duke about his tribe being the only tribe. He said it was the best tribe while he was on stage, so we asked him about it. “Of course! The Jabari strongly believe that to move forward, you have to have a strong adherence and respect for the past. So they have a deep moral conscience, and that’s what I found delicious to bite into and play.” He continued, “They don’t believe in Vibranium as a way to move forward, but it’s dangerous. That also leaves everyone vulnerable, and that’s kind of where it lives.” We pointed out that that point is actually correct. It is dangerous. He said that, as an actor, “What it does do is tells me what my character’s attachments are. Once I understand that these are byproducts from caring about your people. He deeply cares about his people. He deeply cares about his country as a whole. What I love about the atmosphere and culture of Wakanda is that it’s almost like extended family – a large extended family that is a country. He cares about his people. He cares about everyone. If you have those deep, strong attachments, you’re willing to do whatever to make sure everyone is safe and happy.”

Chadwick Boseman stars in the film as T’Challa along with Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Winston Duke as M’Baku, Angela Bassett as Ramonda and Forest Whitaker as Zuri, Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue and Martin Freeman as Everett Ross.

RELATED: The Black Panther Teaser Trailer is Here!

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther follows T’Challa (Boseman) who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.

Black Panther is directed by Ryan Coogler and produced by Kevin Feige, with Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Nate Moore, Jeffrey Chernov and Stan Lee serving as executive producers. Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole wrote the screenplay, based on the Marvel Comics character who made his debut in 1966 during Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s epochal Fantastic Four run.

Black Panther will debut in theaters on February 16, 2018. Are you excited to see Winston Duke as M’Baku and Letitla Wright as Shuri? Let us know in the comments.