Two reunions make “Black Panther” an especially personal chapter in the Marvel cinematic universe.
The movie, set to begin filming in January, will mark the third time director Ryan Coogler has worked with actor Michael B. Jordan — they teamed up previously on “Creed” and “Fruitvale Station.”
And they’re joined by Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira, the star and writer, respectively, of Tony-nominated play “Eclipsed,” which just concluded its run on Broadway last month.
“They’ve been doing a really good job of keeping this a secret – even from the cast,” said Jordan. “I’m really excited to get back to working with Ryan Coogler. Chadwick Boseman – I’ve known him for years and Lupita as well. So the fact that we get a chance to work together again is really special.”
Jordan plays Erik Killmonger, the villain in the movie, set in the fictional African nation of Wakanda.
“I’m really, really curious to start diving into a side of my personality that a lot of people don’t get a chance to see. It’s always cool to show a different side that – it’s there. It’s not the essence of me. But try something different,” Jordan said.
Coogler said it felt right to still be polishing the script for the movie — which features the first black superhero in comics — at a time of turmoil in the U.S. over police killings of black men.
“I feel fortunate and excited to be making a film like this. No time better than now,” he said.
“Walking Dead” actress and playwright Gurira grew up in Zimbabwe and said joining the cast was particularly meaningful.
“To see an epic story like this told with the Marvel engine, the Marvel abilities — through the personhood, really, of African people – is really, really thrilling,” she said.
“It’s a dream come true for a little African girl who spends her life watching other folks do those types of stories – and gets to see Africans do that story. I mean, that’s pretty amazing.”
The Oscar-winning Nyong’o credited “God’s good grace” with reuniting her with Gurira.
“Because I had no say in the matter. I just learned from Ryan that she was on board as well. And of course, we did a secret jump up-and-down while we were working on ‘Eclipsed.’ … I don’t mind carrying on the rest of my life with her,” she said.
“Black Panther” is set for release in 2018.