Kevin Feige told Empire back in December that Black Panther is, “… 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.” We haven’t heard much regarding the story of the film since then, but Daniel Kaluuya, in an interview with GQ, has now added to our speculation bank. As he told the magazine, “This is an African blockbuster. This is like Game of Thrones. This is crazy.”
Taking these two quotes together, we can start to piece together what exactly we might get to see in the film. The Game of Thrones comparison from Kaluuya tells us that this film is a fight for the throne between warring factions each staking a claim to leadership of the country whereas the “Geopolitical action adventure” line from Feige puts the film in a greater, more worldwide context.
Here’s what we’re thinking.
Michael B. Jordan is playing Erik Killmonger, whose original name is N’Jadaka. He changes his name once he’s forced to move to America, where he spends his entire life studying and training to be better than T’Challa and to overthrow his reign to become the King of Wakanda.
Winston Duke is playing M’Baku, who also goes by Man-Ape. He belongs to the Jabari Tribe and worships an outlawed deity in the White Gorilla Cult. He gets his power by bathing in the spilled blood of a rare white gorilla and invoking the White Gorilla deity. He believes that Wakanda should return to their more primal, tribal roots and stop depending so much on the advance of technology.
Both men have challenged T’Challa, the Black Panther, for leadership of the nation. In fact, Erik Killmonger actually does for a time, until he discovers that he’s allergic to the heart shaped herb that grants the Panther clan their power. All this being said, our guess is that the Game of Thrones reference is to the struggle between these three men, all of whom are making a claim for the throne.
The geopolitical angle is still a little more in flux, though we can imagine that as Wakanda does it’s best to untangle itself from a more interior political system into a more international one, it’s Vibranium resources are brought into further importance on the world stage. This is where Ulysses Klaw, the character played by Andy Serkis, could come in. Perhaps he’s working with Killmonger or Man-Ape, two men he’s been allied with in the past, to help overthrow Wakanda. Or, perhaps, he’s illegally smuggling Vibranium out of the country, leading Black Panther to chase him down, leaving the throne relatively open to assault.
We won’t know until February next year when the film hits theatres. Until then, the speculation game is lots and lots of fun.
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