Chadwick Boseman was responsible for one of Black Panther’s most memorable lines

Director Ryan Coogler revealed the late star was hugely influential behind-the-scenes

Louis Chilton
Tuesday 01 September 2020 11:01
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Black Panther: Killmonger death scene

Black Panther director Ryan Coogler has revealed that Chadwick Boseman was responsible for one of the 2018 film’s most memorable lines.

Boseman died of colon cancer last week (28 August) at the age of 43, having suffered from the illness in private since 2016.

In Black Panther, Boseman played the superpowered King T’Challa, also known as Black Panther, while Michael B Jordan played his cousin, Erik Killmonger.

At the film’s end, Killmonger is defeated, having temporarily overthrown T’Challa, and utters the final words: “Bury me in the ocean, with my ancestors that jumped from the ships, because they knew death was better than bondage.”

According to Coogler, this line was the result of Boseman’s input. As part of a long tribute, he revealed: “In early drafts of the script, Eric Killmonger’s character would ask T’Challa to be buried in Wakanda. Chad challenged that and asked, ‘What if Killmonger asked to be buried somewhere else?’”

Erik Killmonger (Michael B Jordan) and T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) square up in ‘Black Panther

The line change was just one of Boseman’s many behind-the-scenes contributions to the projects, according to the filmmaker.

The late star was also key to the decision for Xhosa to be the official language of Wakanda – the fictional African state in which much of Black Panther is set.

“I’ll never forget sitting in an editorial suite on the Disney lot and watching his scenes [in Captain America: Civil War],” said Coogler. “After Scarlett [Johansson]’s character leaves them, Chad and John [Kani, who played T’Challa’s father] began conversing in a language I had never heard before.

“It sounded familiar, full of the same clicks and smacks that young black children would make in the States. The same clicks that we would often be chided for being disrespectful or improper. But, it had a musicality to it that felt ancient, powerful, and African.”

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He continued: “I learned later that there was much conversation over how T’Challa would sound in the film. The decision to have Xhosa be the official language of Wakanda was solidified by Chad, a native of South Carolina, because he was able to learn his lines in Xhosa, there on the spot.

Boseman also argued for his character’s African accent, so he could “present T’Challa to audiences as an African king, whose dialect had not been conquered by the West”.

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