The star wattage could hardly have been brighter at this week’s Hollywood premiere of Atlanta-filmed “Black Panther,” one of the most highly anticipated blockbusters of 2018.
Chadwick Boseman, who stars in the title role, commanded the red carpet along with director Ryan Coogler, Marvel icon Stan Lee (yes, he has a cameo as usual) and cast members including “The Walking Dead” star Danai Gurira, the Oscar winning Lupita Nyong’o and Forest Whitaker; Sterling K. Brown, who just made history as the first black actor to win a Golden Globe best actor in a television series/drama; Daniel Kaluuya, who just picked up an Oscar nomination for best actor for “Get Out” and Michael B. Jordan, the 2016 recipient of the NAACP Image Award for Entertainer of the Year.
Joining the fun were Atlanta R&B singer Usher, rapper Snoop Dogg, Jessica and David Oyelowo (who portrayed the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta-filmed, Oscar-nominated “Selma”), Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon (up for a best screenplay Oscar for “The Big Sick”).
Oh, and Taran Killam, the actor who soothes Atlanta every time snow threatens. (He was the “Saturday Night Live” cast member who portrayed the fictitious Buford Calloway in the famous clip that tends to resurface this time of year.)
“It’s not just a movie. It’s become its own thing,” Boseman told the Associated Press during red-carpet interviews. “It’s a movement. People are excited about the cultural aspect of it. I’m excited about it because I know it’s good.”
“You feel like you’re doing something that’s never been done before. I’ve never seen an African superhero movie,” Kaluuya added. “I was so excited to be a part of that.”
The movie, which filmed some on location but mostly at the EUE/Screen Gems facility, picks up the story of T’Challa/Black Panther where “Captain America: Civil War” left off. Boseman debuted the role in the 2016 Marvel movie, also filmed in Atlanta.
The studio’s synopsis: “After the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, (T’Challa) returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king —and Black Panther— is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.”
Nyong’o noted that the fictitious country of Wakanda was inspired by the entire African continent, saying, “Hopefully, it’s such a rich tapestry that it’ll wake people up to a different idea of what Africa is.”
Bassett summed up the excitement succinctly: “All the world has been waiting.”