Black Panther Portraits: New Looks at the Heroes and Villains of Wakanda
There is no denying the beauty of the costumes and people of Black Panther. In this gallery of portraits by photographer Kwaku Alston, created exclusively for EW's Comic-Con preview, the king and protector of Wakanda reigns supreme. Chadwick Boseman is photographed in T'Challa's obsidian-colored, Vibranium-woven armor as the hero of this Marvel Studios movie.
As one of Wakanda's top spies, protecting the secretive nation's interests around the globe, Lupita Nyong'o's character is often undercover. But that doesn't mean she blends in. "I would say Nakia is very practical," the Oscar-winner says. "She dresses for the job at hand, but she doesn’t compromise her style."
"Danai Gurira is going to steal every scene that she's in is the head of the Dora Milaje, the all-female secret service to T’Challa," says Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. Here, The Walking Dead actress is seen in Okoye's ornate uniform as part of the order, created by costume designer Ruth E. Carter. You can read our full Q&A with Gurira here: From Michonne to Marvel...
Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya plays Black Panther's best friend, W’Kabi, the head of security for the Border Tribe. "They live on the borders of Wakanda and serve as the first line of defense for the country," says executive producer Nate Moore. "As T’Challa ascends to the throne, he asks W’Kabi to serve as an advisor, trusting his friends knowledge and instincts."
Letitia Wright plays T'Challa's sister, Shuri, who crafts weapons like the Vibranium-enhanced panther gauntlets on her hands. "She is also a genius and runs the entire Wakandan design group," Feige says. "She's responsible for amazing technological advances that Vibranium has brought about from Wakanda."
“He’s somewhat a religious figure or spiritual figure,” director Ryan Coogler says of Forest Whitaker's shaman character, Zuri. “Forest’s character, more than anything, is a major tie-back to T’Challa’s father. Zuri is someone he looks to for guidance.” Coogler says to think of him as the Wise Old Man — Black Panther’s version of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Angela Bassett is Wakanda's queen mother, as vital to T'Challa and Shuri now as when they were children. "Her goal in the film is to help T’Challa become king of Wakanda in a peaceful transition of power, serving as a de facto advisor to the throne," Moore says. "However, as things get complicated for our hero, she sets aside any political functions and instead operates as a mother whose sole concern is the physical well-being of both of her children."
Here's one of those complications. In the comics, Killmonger is an exiled dissident from Wakanda who believes T'Challa will be too weak a ruler. "Something we felt was important was that Wakanda wasn’t treated monolithically, meaning everybody agreed to do the same thing all the time," Moore says. "Wakanda has a lot of citizens who have a lot of different ideas of Wakanda should be. Killmonger is a voice of a different side of Wakanda."
Winston Duke (Person of Interest) plays another leading figure in Wakanda who poses a threat to T'Challa. What the panther is to the royal family, the gorilla is to M'Baku's mountain tribe. "The idea that they worship the gorilla gods is interesting because it’s a movie about the Black Panther who, himself, is a sort of deity in his own rights," Moore said. In the comics, M'Baku wears white fur and an animal mask as the villain Man-Ape. (Read more: How Marvel has modernized the character to avoid unintended racial sterotypes.)