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Chadwick Boseman Explains Why Superhero Black Panther Isn’t Marvel’s ‘Magical Negro’



Chadwick Boseman is aware of how important playing the Black Panther is. But he really became aware at Comic-Con last weekend in San Diego. Atlanta Black Star reported the official cast was revealed at Marvel’s Hall H panel July 23. Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong’o were long rumored to be attached to the project while Boseman’s role was established when “Captain America: Civil War” was released in May. Though Boseman was unable to go into details about the character’s solo movie debut in “Black Panther,” he did reveal the preparation it took to get into character and why T’Challa is no “magical negro.”

“I know how important it is, particularly for people of African descent,” he told io9.

He said learning about the role meant educating himself about various African cultures.

“There are a lot of different things to pull from,” he explained. “You can look to all these different civilizations that existed in Africa. The Egyptians. The Mali, who are believed to have been a satellite nation of ancient Kemet. The Zulu. You can go so many different places. It could be Ethiopia, which went a long time without being conquered as well.”

Research also involved Boseman doing a DNA test to discover his ethnic background. Through all the studying to gear up for the part, one thing that was apparent to the star was the Black Panther’s independent thought process. It instantly made T’Challa not fall into the magical negro trope, which involves a Black character stepping in to help a white one.

“He’s there for his own purpose,” the 39-year-old said. “He’s not there… usually what happens is ‘Well, he did this in this scene and now he’s doing [something else contradictory] and that doesn’t even fit the character.’ That’s the magical negro thing. But, I think we were very cognizant about making a character that had his own through-line, his own intent and he wasn’t going to waver for anybody else’s story.”

He continued, “I think the main thing is just keeping it very clear that he has his own arc and his own things that he wants and desires. He only changes that when something strikes a chord at his core. It strikes a chord at what I think is his lineage and heritage and what he’s been taught, at what he’s been groomed to be.”

“Civil War” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 13. “Black Panther” is due in theaters February 16, 2018.

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