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'The pressure is always there': Chadwick Boseman and Ryan Coogler on living up to 'Black Panther' hype

Kevin Polowy
Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment

Marvel’s Black Panther has been fiercely anticipated since the project was first announced in 2014, as evidenced by #BlackPantherSoLit fandemonium on Twitter and the movie’s higher-than-expected box-office tracking. It’s a groundbreaking event for Hollywood: the first tentpole superhero movie with a predominantly black cast. And it’s buoyed even further by stellar reviews.

But, yes, the film’s director, Ryan Coogler, and face of the franchise, Chadwick Boseman, will admit they felt the pressure of bringing a cultural touchstone like Panther to the big screen.

“It is a lot of pressure in terms of, people have already bought their tickets, they’ve already shown they’re excited about it,” Boseman told Yahoo Entertainment at the film’s Los Angeles press day (watch above). “I think once they see what the movie is, they’re going to realize that this is a totally new experience. It is sort of a movement.”

Black Panther, co-written by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, follows T’Challa (Boseman) back to his homeland of Wakanda after the events of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. He assumes his role as the rightful heir to the African kingdom but soon finds himself in battles against an international terrorist (Andy Serkis’s Klaw) who has pillaged some of the nation’s most valuable (and secretive) resource, vibranium, and an American mercenary (Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger) with designs on the throne.

For Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed), it was a matter of not letting the hype — and the bigger-picture stakes — cloud his attention. “If you think about it too much, it’s a lot of pressure. So the pressure is always there,” he said. “Frankly, I like movies about people of color. I like superhero movies. I like them both, and the idea that they don’t have to be mutually exclusive is an amazing concept.

“But it can give you a lot of false negatives, in terms of, ‘What if this doesn’t work? Does this mean they’ll never make anything like this again?’ You want to keep that negativity out of your mind when you’re doing the actual work, because it can be quite counterproductive.”

Black Panther opens Feb. 16.

Watch the cast talk about why it’s Marvel’s most political movie yet:


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