Why Black Panther’s African accent was so important to Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman sits on the throne as King T’Challa

Black Panther was the first black comic book superhero. Now he’s finally getting his own movie (read our review) after Chadwick Boseman portrayed him in Captain America: Civil War.

King T’Challa (Boseman) is from the fictional African country of Wakanda. So when he speaks, Boseman wanted him to have an African accent.

“When you’re trained you’re trained very often from a European perspective,” Boseman said. “What is considered great or classical is very often British and it’s certain writers and I happen to come from a background that does not believe that.”

Even as a student, Boseman thought there was more to the world than one school of thought.

T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) faces off against Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) in Black Panther

“I went to Oxford to study, but I went to Howard and we were taught to respect our writers and our classics just as much and believe that it takes the same skill level and same technique and sometimes techniques that are a little bit different to pull that off,” Boseman continued.

When he got the opportunity to play T’Challa, Boseman had to resist pressure to make him sound more British or European.

“There was a time period where people were asking me questions about whether or not an audience could sit through a movie with a lead character who spoke with that accent,” Boseman said. “So I became adamant about the fact that that is not true.”

Chadwick Boseman in costume as Black Panther

Nobody objected to T’Challa’s accent in Civil War. In fact, fans went nuts for it and all the magnificence of Black Panther.

“You have to tell the stories and be true to yourself as an artist,” Boseman said. “The intonations and melodies inside of an African accent are just as classical as a British one or a European one. All of the emotions and aspects of a character can be shown and expressions can be shown through that accent.”

In Black Panther, fans will get to explore T’Challa’s home of Wakanda more. Hidden from the world, Wakanda is technologically advanced. With that kind of power, they’d never adopt European customs.

Black Panther doesn’t do much talking until he takes off the suit.

“If he had never been conquered, if his ancestors had never been conquered and he’s never been conquered and Wakanda is what it is, he doesn’t have to go to Oxford to study,” Boseman said. “He doesn’t have to go to Cambridge or Yale or any place to study.

“He actually got his education at home and he would not then assimilate a language that is the colonizer’s language in order to speak to his people,” Boseman added. “So he had to speak with an African accent.”

Black Panther speaks, runs and fights in theaters February 16.

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