This week marks Entertainment Weekly's annual Comic-Con issue, with this year's cover featuring three of the main stars of Marvel's Black Panther, in full costume. The EW cover has stars Chadwick Boseman as T'challa, Michael B. Jordan as the villainous Erik Killmonger and Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia, a member of the Wakanda special forces unit known as the Dora Milaje. Along with the cover, EW has debuted 20 new photos, while director Ryan Coogler shed some new light on this story.
This cover and new photos are part of the annual Entertainment Weekly Comic-Con edition, and while no specifics have been given for Marvel's epic 90-minute Hall H panel yet, Black Panther is expected to be showcased in some way, shape or form. Fans got their first look at Wakanda in the post-credit scene from Captain America: Civil War last year, but the first Black Panther trailer that arrived last month offered a tantalizing glimpse at this mysterious nation. EW caught up with director Ryan Coogler, who teased that fans won't be sure who to root for, and who to root against.
"In this movie, a lot like politics, it's a little tricky to define who's [a good guy]. The film very much plays with those concepts, looking at conflicts and different motivations, and who's with who. What makes him (T'challa) 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?'"
The Black Panther trailer that debuted last month opened with Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) interrogating Ulysses Klaue, who suggests that the third-world nature of Wakanda is "all a front." However, the country is hiding its most valuable export, the mysterious metal known as Vibranium, which was used to make Captain America's shield and is thought to be one of the most rare metals on Earth which has allowed Wakanda to make "technological leaps" nearly a century ahead of the rest of the world. In the Wakandan fields, they grow the Heart-Shaped Herb, a plant laced with Vibranium that gives the country's leaders superhuman strength and other abilities.
This report also reveals more details about Nakia, whose job with the Dora Milaje is to "stifle word of Wakanda's secrets, hunting down its enemies with deadly force." On the other hand, Erik Killmonger has teamed up with Ulysses Klaue, who was last seen losing his arm in Avengers: Age of Ultron, which he has replaced with, "a piece of sonic mining equipment stolen from Wakanda." The new photos feature part of what is believed to be a "sanctioned fight" between T'challa and Erik Killmonger at Warrior Falls, with members of the Dora Milaje looking on. This photo, and other images of Killmonger reveal intricate tribal markings on the character's chest, although executive producer Nathan Moore teases, "That is a story reveal we would like to preserve."
The new photos also offer a better look at Okoye (Danai Gurira), leader of the Dora Milaje, Ayo (Florence Kasumba), another Dora Milaje warrior, Zuri (Forest Whitaker), who Ryan Coogler describes as, "somewhat a religious figure or spiritual figure," along with T'challa's sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), and mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett). EW also spoke with Kevin Feige, who reveals that this movie honors the legacy of Black Panther, Marvel's first black superhero.
"Creating a character named Black Panther, who comes across in those early comics as smarter than everybody else, is shrewder than everybody else, comes from a country that is more advanced than any other country... They were doing this in the '60s, right in the middle of the Civil Rights movement. That's pretty good. And we are certainly not going to shy away from that."
As for Killmonger, there is still very little that has been revealed about this character yet, except that he thinks he could rule the country better than T'challa, who has taken over the throne after the death of his father T'chaka (John Kani) in Captain America: Civil War. Chadwick Boseman said that he can identify with Killmonger's character, teasing that Killmonger and T'challa are "polar opposites." This movie will also explore T'challa's grieving process after losing his father.
"It [explores] his mourning process, his connection to why his father was killed, and feeling like he should have been able to do something about it. All that ties into how he's going to rule."
The photos also offer a new look at Daniel Kaluuya as W'kabi, T'challa's best friend from a border tribe who serves as his trusted adviser. Lupita Nyong'o teases that there is a romance between her character Nakia and T'challa, but her Dora Milaje undercover duties keep pulling her away from him as she has to choose between her "passion for her calling and her passion for her king." Take a look at the new EW cover and the 20 photos from Black Panther as we get closer to the February 18 release date.