Contains Captain America: Civil War spoilers
Before 12 Years A Slave, Lupita Nyong’o was a complete unknown in Hollywood. The Mexican-Kenyan actress had not appeared in a feature film before director Steve McQueen picked her out of thousands of hopefuls to portray Patsey, an abused plantation slave opposite Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Solomon Northup. The performance won her overwhelming acclaim and earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress (deservedly, I might add).
Since then, Nyong’o has been an acting powerhouse very much in demand.
Now, it’s being reported that Nyongo’o will join the Black Panther solo film. Nyong’o, who might be more popularly known for her motion-capture performance as Maz Kanata in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, looks set to link up with Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa’s love interest.
It’s rumoured that Nyong’o is playing the part of the Dora Milaje, an elite group of female bodyguards who are also potential candidates to become the new queen of Wakanda. The Hollywood Reporter say the specifics of her character have not been revealed but, regardless of her role, it’s further excellent news for Black Panther. Our adventure down into the jungle of Wakanda will, perhaps more than any, prove that comic book movies are an acting force to be reckoned with.
Boseman won many plaudits for his emotionally devastating portrayal of the Wakandan prince-turned-king in Captain America: Civil War, backing up the acclaim he already received for depicting legendary soul singer James Brown in Get On Up. In fact, it was recently revealed that Boseman invented his own accent as the Wakandan way of speaking (known as Xhosa) for the part, refusing to break character throughout his entire time on set to perfect the nuances of the accent.
On top of the bevy of acting talent on display in the Black Panther solo film, overseeing the project will be Ryan Coogler, hailed as one of the most exciting filmmakers to have emerged in the past decade. Coogler directed Fruitvale Station and Creed, both of which were tremendously well-received and both of which were directed of his own screenplays.
Nyong’o negotiating a role in Black Panther is not only another exciting chapter in her already remarkably successful career, it’s a reinforcement of the idea that superhero movies are attracting the very greatest talents on the acting – and directing – circuit. If you look across the divide at DC, it’s worth noting that the current actors playing Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), The Joker (Jared Leto), Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons) and James Gordon (JK Simmons) all have Oscars to their names, with three of those four (excluding Irons) scooping their statuettes in the last four years.
It truly is the Golden Age of Superhero Movies and the gravitational pull of these movies is reflecting that. It’s our belief that Black Panther will represent another tremendous feat of acting for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, guided by the burgeoning expertise of Coogler. With the emotional heft backing the story (T’Chaka’s death in Civil War), the array of talent really have the ability to make this a superhero movie to remember.
It just pains us that we have to wait until July 6, 2018 to see Black Panther.