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'Black Panther' reviews, interviews and reactions

Marvel's "Black Panther" is ready for the record books: The first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe led by a predominantly black cast. The first movie from a black filmmaker, Ryan Coogler, to boast a budget in the reported range of $200 million. And the first film led by a black cast, directed by a black filmmaker, expected to become a global blockbuster before it even opens.

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Below you'll find highlights of The Times' coverage of "Black Panther" — including reviews, interviews, photos, videos and more. And check back because we'll keep updating as the phenomenon rolls on.


Review: 'Black Panther' is a superhero movie that's worth seeing twice, and that is rare

Kenneth Turan revews "Black Panther," a superhero movie whose characters have integrity and dramatic heft, and is filled with engaging exploits and credible crises grounded in a vibrant but convincing reality.

We didn't know we'd been yearning for it until it arrived, but now that it's here it's unmistakable that the wait for a film like "Black Panther" has been way longer than it should have been.

On one level this is the next-in-line Marvel Universe story of the ruler of the mythical African kingdom of Wakanda who moonlights as a superhero and has to contend with threats and problems both internal and external.

But "Black Panther," as co-written and directed by Ryan Coogler and starring a deep bench of actors of color, is an against-the-grain $100-million-plus epic so intensely personal that when the usual Marvel touchstones (Stan Lee, anyone) appear, they feel out of place.


Audiences flock to theaters as ‘Black Panther’ fever takes over L.A.

The Times spoke to fans who attended opening day screenings of "Black Panther" in Los Angeles to discuss what the film meant to them.

"Black Panther" fever took over Los Angeles and beyond this weekend as the highly anticipated Disney film opened to the kind of fervor typically reserved for the latest offering in the "Star Wars" franchise.

The Marvel Entertainment release took in an estimated $192 million over the weekend domestically, making it the highest February film debut ever. Its fortunes are expected to rise to $218 million through the Presidents Day holiday, according to figures from measurement firm comScore, which would make it one of the top 5 opening weekends of all time. The previous February record had been held by "Deadpool," which grossed $152.2 million over the long Presidents Day weekend in 2016.

In all of my years, I've never seen anything like this. I have never seen any black superheroes… any black characters that are this positive.


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With an A-plus rating from audiences on CinemaScore and a 97% "fresh" rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, it currently stands as the most well-received superhero film ever, Marvel or otherwise. And audiences are visibly showing their support.


How Chadwick Boseman brought power and purpose to Marvel's 'Black Panther'

Chadwick Boseman
Chadwick Boseman (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Long before he was cast as the first black superhero of the modern Marvel era, and before he brought the Avengers-adjacent King T'Challa of Wakanda to life in his own groundbreaking standalone tentpole, Chadwick Boseman was keeping notes on what a "Black Panther" movie should be.

I can remember several times writing in my journals, ‘That would be a cool thing to see in “Black Panther.”’


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"I can remember several times writing in my journals, 'That would be a cool thing to see in Black Panther' – ideas from real life, from real history, or real archaeology or architecture," said Boseman, 41, taking in the sunshine on a Beverly Hills hotel terrace in the midst of a frenetic press tour.

"The projects that I end up doing, that I want to be involved with in any way, have always been projects that will be impactful, for the most part, to my people — to black people," said Boseman.


'Black Panther' depicts a range of strong female characters who aren't competing with one another

Actors Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, and Lupita Nyong'o
Actors Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, and Lupita Nyong'o (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images)

In Marvel's "Black Panther," when King T'Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, calls upon his team of heroes, it's not the Avengers who assemble around him but the strong, complex women of Wakanda. They are brave warriors, brilliant scientists, fearless spies and queens.

In African culture they feel as if there is no king without a queen, and I think this story highlights the queen, the warrior, the general and the young sister


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Eighteen films into Marvel's blockbuster franchise they're long overdue, arriving in a "Black Panther" origin tale that also breaks ground as the first standalone film of the modern Marvel era to be led by a black superhero.

Oscar-nominated actress Angela Bassett plays Queen Ramonda, mother to newly crowned T'Challa, who ascends to the throne of the fictional African nation of Wakanda — and inherits the superpowered mantle of Black Panther, protector of his people — after the death of his father in "Captain America: Civil War."


A regal Hollywood premiere

If you've ever wondered how kings and queens of the fictional, futuristic nation of Wakanda might dress, look no further than Marvel Studio's "Black Panther" premiere in Los Angeles on Monday night. In keeping with the "royal attire" theme dictated by the evening's invitation, stars and attendees hit the purple-hued carpet in a kaleidoscopic display of regal, Africa-inspired fashion.

Taking cues from the film's costumes (which were envisioned by Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter), Lupita Nyong'o channeled her warrior character, Nakia, while wearing a purple, custom-made Atelier Versace chiffon gown with gold metal hardware harness details reminiscent of armor. Chadwick Boseman, who stars as Wakandan ruler T'Challa, looked every bit the part in a black and gold blazer by Emporio Armani.


A critics chat: ‘It feels vital’

Kenneth Turan and Justin Chang chat about Marvel's "Black Panther" movie.

Film critics Kenneth Turan and Justin Chang talk about Marvel's "Black Panther," a movie that "looks and sounds like no other Marvel movie that we've seen."

"I love the fact that this movie is a shrine to black women," says Chang.

"The great thing about this film is that you can feel how excited Ryan Coogler was to create this world — and he's able to bring us along with him," says Turan.


Why 'Black Panther' is Ryan Coogler’s most personal film to date

Hannah Beachler, production designer, and Ryan Coogler, director, of "Black Panther."
Hannah Beachler, production designer, and Ryan Coogler, director, of "Black Panther." (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Being a black American sometimes comes with an identity crisis. After all, parts of African American culture are rooted in a land some of them will never know thanks to colonialism, imperialism and slavery. The result, hundreds of years later, is a generational distance.

"One of the things that sometimes comes with being [of African descent] is being made to be ashamed of being African and ashamed that your people live in these beautiful huts and ashamed that some of your people are running around with no shoes on and that when the music plays, we dance like no one's watching," Ryan Coogler said. "But that ... is beautiful and we can be proud of it."

This is the one of the messages the co-writer and director wanted to ensure audiences received from his latest picture, Marvel's "Black Panther," in theaters Friday. To execute his vision, however, he knew he needed the right people around him.

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Kendrick Lamar's 'Black Panther' soundtrack uses variety to examine ideas about the African diaspora

Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar (Chris Pizzello / Invision/AP)

There's a scene in "Black Panther" — director Ryan Coogler's breathlessly awaited Marvel Comics adaptation that promises to smash box-office records when it opens Thursday night — in which a bad guy busy raining fire from the passenger seat of a getaway car commands his driver to turn on some music.

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"It's not a funeral," the bad guy sneers, and suddenly we're being pummeled by "Opps," a throbbing, darkly futuristic hip-hop tune by a trio of rappers led by Compton's Kendrick Lamar, who put together the movie's all-star soundtrack and appears on each of its 14 songs.

The villain's line is a bleak joke of course, but he's dead-on about his surroundings: "Black Panther" is most definitely not a funeral — and its wildly creative music accounts for much of its vital life force.


'Black Panther' cinematographer Rachel Morrison says her job ‘speaks to women's strengths’

 
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At the moment Rachel Morrison isn't just celebrating her Oscar nomination for "Mudbound" but also the critical raves she's earning for her work with "Fruitvale's" Ryan Coogler on Marvel Studios' soon-to-open "Black Panther." She knows that "Mudbound" set a pretty high bar for her as an opportunity to shoot a film with a message in a period setting. She'd love to do another period film or sci-fi, "something that gets the creative juices flowing but is also a good story."

"I think it's gonna be hard to go back to daytime contemporary interiors after that," Morrison says with a smile. "The script would have to be absolutely amazing to make me wanna go shoot in a New York apartment [again]."


Ruth E. Carter blended centuries of style and tradition to make those futuristic costumes

Lupita Nyong'o and Letitia Wright in "Black Panther."
Lupita Nyong'o and Letitia Wright in "Black Panther." (Marvel Studios)

If months from now futuristic African themes start infusing fashions on international runways, you'll have the new Marvel Studios film "Black Panther" to thank. Or better yet, Oscar-nominated costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who, along with her team, unpacked the full breadth of African history and reassembled it into a movie wardrobe loaded with symbolism, substance and inspiring avant-garde style.

Already, the film's stars have carried the fashion theme further by wearing regal, African-centric attire at media appearances and on the red carpet.

Though the film's plot is fueled by the conflicting pressures on King T'Challa and his alt-persona, the superhero Black Panther, the larger story is a commentary on what African culture could have been, if left to flourish free of colonization.


'Black Panther' breakout Letitia Wright is just getting started

Letitia Wright in a scene from "Black Panther."
Letitia Wright in a scene from "Black Panther." (Matt Kennedy / Disney / Marvel Studios via AP)

"My voice is all gone," said British actress Letitia Wright. "I sound like a horsey man."

While the sentiment was a bit of an exaggeration, Wright was beginning to go hoarse after a week of nonstop press for Marvel's highly anticipated "Black Panther."

In the film, Wright shines as Shuri, King T'Challa's 16-year-old sister and the princess of the fictional African country of Wakanda. (With a short, asymmetrical haircut and delicate features, the 24-year-old convincingly passes for a teenager.)

"People her age are not usually put in charge of things," Wright said of Shuri. "You have to look to the adults all the time."

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Meet Douriean Fletcher, the jewelry designer for 'Black Panther'

In creating the world of Wakanda, the fictional African country that's home to T'Challa, Shuri and the other characters in Marvel Studios' new "Black Panther" movie, much care was given to special effects, landscapes and spaceships. Even the seemingly small details of the armament worn by the Dora Milaje, the king's guards led by Danai Gurira's character Okoye, and the accessories worn by Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and other members of the royal court required the big-budget production to turn to someone innovative.

This is where Douriean Fletcher, the jewelry designer for "Black Panther," was able to thrive. Fletcher had been making jewelry for less than 10 years when she met longtime Oscar-nominated costume designer Ruth E. Carter at a jewelry show in New Orleans.


'Black Panther' director Ryan Coogler felt he was 'born to make' his debut 'Fruitvale Station'

"Fruitvale Station" and "Black Panther" dup — director Ryan Coogler, left, and actor Michael B. Jordan — at the BART Fruitvale Station in Oakland.
"Fruitvale Station" and "Black Panther" dup — director Ryan Coogler, left, and actor Michael B. Jordan — at the BART Fruitvale Station in Oakland. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Editor's Note: In 2013, "Black Panther" director Ryan Coogler debuted at the Sundance Film Festival with his Forest Whitaker-produced film "Fruitvale Station." Five years before "Black Panther" would make him a household name, Coogler gave his first interview to the Times when film critic Kenneth Turan talked to the director in Park City, Utah, for the festival.

Ryan Coogler was at home in Oakland on New Year's Day 2009 when it happened: Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old unarmed black man, was killed by a transit policeman at the BART station in the city's Fruitvale neighborhood. Cellphone videos of the incident soon went viral, sparking protests and demonstrations.

"I saw the videos almost at once," the 26-year-old filmmaker said. "He was dressed like me and my friends dress, he looked like us. It was kind of like it happened to me, or someone I know."


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