Wakanda is an African country that has never suffered the consequences of imperialism, so it would make sense for Wakandans to have accents of their own. Chadwick Boseman said this move wasn’t a no-brainer for Marvel.
“They felt that it was maybe too much for an audience to take,” Boseman told The Hollywood Reporter of the comic book giant. “I felt the exact opposite—like, if I speak with a British accent, what’s gonna happen when I go home?” Boseman added that it was a “deal-breaker” for him if he couldn’t perform Black Panther with an accent. “I was like, ‘No, this is such an important factor that if we lose this right now, what else are we gonna throw away for the sake of making people feel comfortable?'”
He won that battle and the rest was history. In the film, Boseman’s character King T’Challa otherwise known as Black Panther talks in South Africa’s Xhosa accent. The audience clearly didn’t feel disconnected because the flick went on to make history. Black Panther’s opening end of the week got $202 million in the movies, making it the fifth highest grossing opening end of the week ever. The Marvel film, which includes an almost all-Black cast, proceeded to wind up 2018’s highest grossing movie domestically with $700 million in film industry deals and the second-highest grossing motion picture overall this year so far with $1.3 billion. (Avengers: Infinity War is in the best spot with over $2 billion.) Marvel Studios CEO Kevin Feige considered Black Panther the “best movie we’ve ever made.”
Chadwick Boseman has no second thoughts on taking on the part, especially while Donald Trump is president. “Films can be escapism, but I don’t think this was escapism,” he said. “I think this was aspirational. Some people may say, ‘Well, that country doesn’t exist, that’s not real,’ but we were pulling from all real things. We were pulling from the great empires; we were pulling from the hairstyles and the culture and the clothing; we were pulling from mixtures of politics that exist; and we were trying to create not a perfect world, but a leader and a country that was aspirational, that gets it right. And so the fact that the world could look at that and draw from it during this particular time? Only God can do that, only something more powerful and more knowing than ourselves can place it in this particular time.”