Nick Romano
July 24, 2016 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Black Panther is a significant film — not just for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also for diversity in superhero films. Following Marvel Studios’ Hall H presentations at Comic-Con Saturday night, director Ryan Coogler discussed the importance of representation in the genre. 

“The superhero field is a field where there’s not a lot of representation,” the filmmaker told EW. “It’s traditionally white male, but the fans look like the world. So, naturally, people are going to yearn to see someone flying around doing these incredible things that looks like them. It’s an incredible opportunity, but that’s what keeps me up at night — for better and for worse.”

Chadwick Boseman returns as T’Challa for Black Panther, while Michael B. Jordan plays villain Erik Killmonger, and Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira play members of Wakanda’s special forces known as the Dora Milaje. 

“The thing that’s really cool about Wakanda that we know from the books, that’s consistent with all the different stories, is that they worship the panther goddess,” Coogler explains. “It’s a place where gender roles are very different than how we see them in today’s age. The Dora Milaje are the most elite fighters in the country, and you can only be a woman in the Dora Milaje.” 

Marvelites best know this fictional African nation as the source of the mineral vibranium — it’s what Captain America’s shield is made from and it’s what Ultron was after in the second Avengers film. However, Coogler reiterates that Wakanda isn’t defined by this element. 

“In our Wakanda, it’s not vibranium that makes them special,” he says. “It’s their culture and who they are that makes them special. It just so happens that they have this mineral there that they use.” 

Black Panther is scheduled to hit theaters July 6, 2018. Watch EW’s full interview with Coogler and the cast in the video above. 

Entertainment Weekly is on the scene at San Diego Comic-Con. Go inside with all our coverage, available here.

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