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Feel free to bow. You're in the presence of royalty. As part of EW's Black Panther Comic-Con double issue, we present a gallery of images from the Feb. 16 film, including this close-up of the king himself in his Vibranium-enhanced sacred armor. You don't want to cross his path.
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Star Chadwick Boseman (42, Get On Up) says this movie will show a different dimension to T'Challa, protecting the place he loves, rather than pursuing a mission of vengeance. In this scene, he personally takes down some interlopers who have entered Wakanda seeking its Vibranium riches.
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Battle at Warrior Falls
This is a clash at Warrior Falls, a holy place in Wakanda, and the combatants are the new king, T'Challa, and Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), a dissident and would-be usurper to the throne. Black Panther's secret service, the Dora Milaje, look on impassively, so this is clearly a sanctioned fight. We don't yet know what brings these two men into hand-to-hand conflict...
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Killmonger's Tribal Scars
Another mystery: What is the origin of the bumpy, ritualistic tribal markings across Killmonger's chest and torso? "That is a story reveal that we’d like to preserve," says executive producer Nate Moore (Captain America: Civil War.) The raised pattern resembles the scar tattoos of Ethiopia's Mursi and Surma tribes.
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Warriors of Wakanda
Women hold great power in Wakandan culture. The Dora Milaje, which is a combination of Special Forces and Secret Service, is all female — and led by Okoye (The Walking Dead's Danai Gurira, left). On the right is Ayo (Florence Kasumba), the king's personal guard. Between them stands Nakia (Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o), who serves as an undercover operative traveling the world to protect Wakanda's interests ... and hunt its enemies.
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Fear for the King
Here are the same three in their ceremonial attire. Gurira's Okoye and Kasumba's Ayo wear the scarlet-beaded armor of the Dora (along with expressions of alarm.) Nyong'o's Nakia is also clad in traditional Wakandan garb, all of it manifested from the imagination of costume designer Ruth E. Carter (Selma, Malcolm X).
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Heavy Is the Head
Director and co-writer Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed) confers with Boseman in this behind-the-scenes image. "What makes him different from other superheroes first and foremost is he doesn’t see himself as a superhero,” the filmmaker says of T'Challa. "He sees himself as a politician. That’s the first thing on his mind when he wakes up in the morning: 'How am I going to fulfill my duties as king of this place?'"
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The Haunted Son
Boseman (42, Get On Up) says Black Panther tackles T'Challa's unresolved issues from Civil War, like the assassination of his father T'Chaka (John Kani), the previous king of Wakanda. "It [explores] his mourning process, his connection to why his father was killed, and feeling like he should have been able to do something about it," Boseman says. "All that ties into how he's going to rule."
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The Holy Man
Zuri (played by Oscar winner Forest Whitaker) stands watch at Warrior Falls. He is a shaman and trusted adviser of the past king and now fulfills the wise elder role for T'Challa as he grieves the loss of his father. "He’s somewhat a religious figure or spiritual figure,” Coogler says.
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Journey to the Mountains
Black Panther's sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), accompanies Nakia and Ramonda, his mother (played by Angela Bassett), on a mission into the icy regions of Wakanda, where treacherous M'Baku (Winston Duke, not pictured) rules the mountain tribe. Along for the trip is CIA operative Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman), one of the few outsiders welcomed into the reclusive nation. "We could make five movies only about Panther and his world because it's so rich," says producer Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios.
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Feige says the film honors the history of Marvel's first black superhero. "Creating a character named Black Panther, who comes across in those early comics as smarter than everybody else, is shrewder than everybody else, comes from a country that is more advanced than any other country... They were doing this in the ‘60s, right in the middle of the Civil Rights movement. That’s pretty good," Feige says. "And we are certainly not going to shy away from that."
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Enemy of the People
In the comics, Erik Killmonger was originally named N'Jadaka and takes his new death-dealing name after being exiled from Wakanda. All we know of this antagonist in the film is that he thinks he would be a stronger ruler than T'Challa — and intends to prove it. "I can say that I identify with Killmonger’s character," Boseman says. "He definitely has a different point of view. They are polar opposites."
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Panther's Best Friend
Behind the two adversaries stands W'Kabi (played by Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya). He's T'Challa's best friend, but also a fierce warrior from the border tribe, which is responsible for helping Wakanda keep its technological paradise a secret from the rest of the world. "As T’Challa ascends to the throne, he asks W’Kabi to serve as an advisor, trusting his friend's knowledge and instincts," says executive producer Nate Moore.
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Nakia and Shuri
Another person who matters deeply to T'Challa is Nakia. There's romance between the two but her globetrotting job often pulls her away. “In her journey in this film, she has to really choose between her passion for her calling and her passion for her king,” Nyong'o says. T'Challa's sister, Shuri, stays close to the kingdom, developing high-tech weapons that keep it safe.
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The Skeptical American
In Civil War, CIA operative Everett K. Ross was a no-nonsense government functionary. Freeman describes him as "completely, totally competent" rather than a goofy comic relief sidekick. In this film, he earns T'Challa's trust as they work together pursuing the mercenary Ulysses Klaue, who has stolen some of Wakanda's most closely held secrets.
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We've seen Klaue before, too — getting his arm abruptly removed by the killer robot in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Pursuit of Vibranium has put Andy Serkis' character in league with Killmonger, who helps spring him from this CIA prison. "As long as he can amass fortune and cause disruption in the world at the same time, I think he’s a happy man," Serkis says.
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Villain Meets Ally
There's geek history in this pairing, too. And not just Gollum vs. Bilbo. (That's a different universe.) "Klaue is the first [Panther] villain appearing in 1966," Feige notes. "Everett Ross showed up 10 or 12 years ago in the [Christopher] Priest run in Panther comics. It's always fun to pick these characters and put them in together."
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"That’s a very super lux high-end underground casino in South Korea where there is a great scene where Lupita, Danai, and Chad will walk in dressed to the nines," says Feige. "Klaue is there and it’s a big action scene. It's important that this all feels big, glossy, and entertaining at the same time."
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While Klaue and Ross have their casino confrontation, Nakia and T'Challa keep a watchful eye alongside intel chief Okoye, whose is defined by loyalty. "She is a lover and protector of her people and of the throne," Gurira says. "To protect the throne, you are protecting the core institution of the nation which allows it to thrive."
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Wakanda's Ruling Class
It's a sumptuous photo, but there's too much happening in this image to do it justice in a single gallery caption. For a deeper exploration (and a much larger version of the picture) click over to this story: The Wakanda Royal Portrait.
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