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Fans excited for the February release of Marvel’s Black Panther have been treated to a boatload of information from producers Kevin Feige and Nate Moore. The feeling of the film, they’ve said, is a combination between the tones of a 007 Movie and Coppola’s family crime drama classic The Godfather.

The movie is set, obviously, in Wakanda, and takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War. On the “Godfather” side of the equation we start with the newly annointed king, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) as the titular character. Of the character, director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station) said:

“What makes him different from other superheroes first and foremost is he doesn’t see himself as a superhero. 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?’”

But, like Michael Corleone jockeying for position after Vito’s death, T’Challa is not without enemies to challenge his rule. Erik Killmonger, an exiled Wakandian played by Michael B. Jordan, has lofty ambitions as well. He has smuggled Vibranium for his homeland, the powerful, malleable, and mysterious substance that the Wakandians harvest for technological advancements. Of the character producer Moore says:

“I think Killmonger has his own opinion on how Wakanda has been run and should run, and what I think Michael brings to the table is sort of a charming antagonist, who doesn’t agree with how T’Challa is running things, frankly. I think that puts T’Challa in a difficult situation. Killmonger is a voice of a different side of Wakanda.”

Rounding out the family/Godfather side of the equation are T’Challa’s mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett), his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) and a spiritual leader named Zuri and played by Forest Whitaker.

But for all the family drama, Marvel is promising that Black Panther will also feature plenty of spy-like intrigue much like the British agent with a license to kill. Lupita Nyong’O, for example, plays Nakia, a dedicated warrior and bodyguard to T’Challa who the Academy Award winning actress describes;

a departure from what she was in the comic book . . . a war dog. She is basically an undercover spy for Wakanda. Her job is to go out into the world and report back on what’s going on.”

And then of course there is fan favorite Danai Gurira from The Walking Dead as Okoye, the head of the all-female soldier unit meant to protect the king. The actress said of the so-called :

“They are a very powerful force. They are not utopic, but what Wakanda has down well is it has allowed people to function within their strengths. These women, their strength is to preserve Wakanda. It’s more like the secret service in a sense that it’s not just military. She is head of intel.”

While the dark and somber themes of the Coppola movies seem ill-equipped to clash with the more slapstick approach of Ian Fleming’s adaptations, the more serious tones that Bond movies have taken of late may provide the narrow bridge between these two worlds. We shall see.

What do you think of this characterization of the upcoming Black Panther film, set for release February of 2018? Let us know in the comments !

EW first reported on these developments.

About The Author

J. Don Birnam

J. Don Birnam, a voting member of the New York Film Critics Online, has been a movie lover since he saw the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film in theaters at a tender age, and has been a devoted student of American film history every since. His favorite films range from Back to the Future to West Side Story, depending on the time of day, and has a mildly unhealthy obsessions with the Academy Awards. Any similarity with the slightly unstable writer in the seminal 1944 film 'The Lost Weekend' is pure coincidence

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