Chadwick Boseman gave a regal aura to the character T’Challa, better known as the Black Panther, in Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War film and nearly stole the show. Over the weekend, Boseman talked in grand detail about the Black Panther’s significance to fans and how he doesn’t view the character as a so-called “magical negro.”
Boseman sat down with i09 during this past weekend’s Comic-Con in San Diego and shared his excitement in taking on the Black Panther role and the universal appeal of the role. However, Boseman showed a level of awareness about playing a Black man on a large major studio stage and stated that T’Challa is a fully-realized entity on his own and does not exist to mystically serve the needs of the white lead co-stars.
He’s a king so he doesn’t necessarily have to take feedback at all so that’s a good observation. What do you think prevents T’Challa from being a Magical Negro in Civil War? Part of the formula is there: he’s an otherworldly character who could be fixing these white folks’ problems [Boseman laughs].
Boseman: Well, he’s there for his own purpose. He’s not there… usually what happens is “well, he did this in this scene and now he’s doing [something else contradictory] and that doesn’t even fit the character.” That’s the Magical Negro thing. But, I think we were very cognizant about making a character that had his own through-line, his own intent and he wasn’t going to waver for anybody else’s story. Anytime that I felt like that was about to happen, I’d be like ‘nah, this is what he wants. You can do whatever you wanna do but this is what I feel like he needs to be doing.’ I feel like that’s the key. Sometimes… I won’t say more than that. I could go into the Magical Negro and talk about that forever but…. [laughs loudly]
I’m not gonna stop you!
Boseman: Nah, I think the main thing is just keeping it very clear that he has his own arc and his own things that he wants and desires. He only changes that when something strikes a chord at his core. It strikes a chord at what I think is his lineage and heritage and what he’s been taught, at what he’s been groomed to be. He can’t make that shift at the end of the movie unless he’s been groomed to make that shift already. And even though we don’t see that grooming, that’s actually the first glimpse into Wakanda before you see that tag at the very end.
Check out the rest of the stellar io9 interview with Chadwick Boseman by following this link. Kudos to Boseman for shooting down one of Hollywood’s most overused tropes.