Black Panther spoilers ahead!
Black Panther has already gone down in history as one of the most successful and beloved Marvel movies yet. Now that its home release date on digital, Blu-ray, and DVD is upon us, we get to finally return to Wakanda. Granted, we had a brief sojourn there in Avengers: Infinity War, too, but it's nice to return for a longer stay.
Black Panther's special features include some in-depth featurette videos, most notably a lengthy conversation between many of the minds behind Black Panther--the movie, as well as the original and contemporary comics. There's even a featurette on the first 10 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole, and a sneak peek of the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp.
But the most informative and interesting feature of Black Panther's home release is the audio commentary that accompanies the film. Director and co-writer Ryan Coogler and production designer Hannah Beachler break Black Panther down frame by frame, discussing everything from scenes that were shot but never included to the subtle nod to The Lion King you might have missed.
We compiled those nuggets and many more into this handy list, but all of Black Panther's special features are definitely worth watching for yourself. Black Panther is out now on digital, and releases May 15 on Blu-ray and DVD.
1. The prologue explaining Wakanda's history almost wasn't in the movie.
"The prologue to the film, that's something that was in the script, and it was out of the script, and we weren't totally sure if we were going to have it, but I'm really happy that we did," Coogler says.
2. There's a 515-page Wakanda "Bible."
It was created by Black Panther Production Designer Hannah Beachler to describe Wakanda's history. Hopefully we'll get to read it someday--although we doubt it.
3. Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter "blessed the project."
"We shot at this apartment building in Atlanta that was really fitting to what you would find on Lake Merritt [in Oakland] around that time period," says Beachler. Apparently it was across the street from the church where Martin Luther King Jr. was buried, and King's daughter visited the set to give the production her blessing. The building where King is buried appears in the movie, but they touched it up digitally to make it look more like Oakland.
4. Forest Whitaker's character Zuri always wears purple.
Coogler says they chose a color scheme for each character in part to help audiences keep track, since there are so many different new characters in the movie. Young Zuri wearing purple at the movie's beginning helps associate him with Forest Whitaker's older version of the character later on.
5. Killmonger and his father's herringbone necklaces were inspired by Tupac.
"You see Tupac with the herringbone on a lot. And we kind of based Killmonger's look with the herringbone off of some of Tupac's chains. We wanted to put that big herringbone on his father, you know just kind of try to plant that seed early," says Coogler.
6. They considered making an African version of the theme that plays over the Marvel logo animation.
"We thought the contrast would be good," Coogler says.
7. The Wakandan font used on title cards was inspired by the Nsibidi script from Nigeria.
"We pulled from shapes from the earlier versions of Nsibidi, so the more like 4th century, more than the 1800s, [which] is when it was recorded by the British," Beachler says.
8. The sand tables were designed to look "tactile."
"We were trying to find ways for the Wakandan technology to be tactile. A lot of things in African culture are tactile," Coogler says.
9. The early jungle scenes were shot on a set in Atlanta the size of a football field.
"We brought in over 150,000 plants and trees for this set, and about 20 tons of dirt--red dirt," Beachler says.
10. Nakia's color is green to represent how she identifies with the world outside Wakanda.
"This kind of represents her being from the River Tribe, you know, and also her kind of blending in to these circumstances. You see the women are dressed in green in the back of the truck, and Nakia sees herself as part of the outside world as well, even though she's Wakandan born," Coogler says.
11. They cut part of this scene where T'Challa retrieves the devices he'd thrown on the car.
It improved the pacing, according to Coogler.
12. The environmental shots are from various regions in Africa.
These include regions around Winterton, Sambia, Uganda, and more.
13. The forest hologram was one of the first things Coogler conceived for the movie.
"That was one of the first things that you talked to me about, when we started designing Golden City, was that it's under this cover," Beachler says. They did a test animation that stuck with them throughout production.
14. The London museum set was built in Atlanta.
They worked hard to make it look authentic, down to the African artifacts.
15. The mask Killmonger steals combines elements of different African animals that represent him.
These include antelope antlers, a simian face, and a lion's mane. "The idea that he's an amalgamation of all these different things," Coogler says.
16. The sonic propellers on the bottom of the royal ship reminded Coogler of subwoofers.
"We had a great art director on that," Beachler says.
17. Zuri's face paint was inspired by warriors and shamans in Papua New Guinea.
"Forest [Whitaker] kind of picked that out, and we thought it was brilliant. It felt like they were trying to invoke a leopard," Coogler says.
18. T'Challa's face paint is a subtle nod to The Lion King.
"Little Lion King shout out with the stripe across his forehead," Coogler says. It appears to be a reference to this scene.
19. The scene where M'Baku challenges T'Challa was inspired by the movie Lincoln.
"I remember seeing [Lincoln] and thinking like, 'Aw, these political scenes are really interesting,' like when they're in the house, and they're arguing these political things in a real animated way," Coogler says.
20. The rhino in this scene is actually a horse.
They rhino-fied him with digital effects. "It was a Clydesdale, because they have the same gait as a rhino. So their hips move in that same sort of lumpy way that a rhino moves," Beachler says.
21. The centerpiece of Shuri's lab is a retired drill.
"This core piece was at one time, thousands of years ago, that was a giant drill. That's what they drilled with. And we had a wonderful artist, Brandon Sadler, who's a local to Atlanta, design and paint the piece on the core," Beachler says.
22. They got the idea for the secret casino while visiting an actual fish market in Busan, South Korea.
"Wakanda hides in plain sight, this casino hides in plain sight," Coogler says.
23. T'Challa, Nakia, and Okoye together make the Pan-African flag in this scene.
"Something I was conscious of was putting the Pan-African bent to how we made the film in the story," Coogler says.
24. The car chase scene is a mix between shots from Busan and Atlanta.
"Busan is beautiful. It's an amazing place," Beachler says.
25. Black Panther's wall run was inspired by athlete Bo Jackson.
Coogler says Jackson is the most athletic human he's ever seen, referring to a famous video of the baseball player wall-running after an impressive catch.
26. The color blue follows Killmonger everywhere.
"I was having fun with that at one point. I really was like, 'Killmonger's here! We need more blue!' It was fun just to see where we could put it, can we hide it, can we let people find it, Easter egg-y stuff," Beachler says.
27. Coogler considers T'Challa confronting Zuri to be "the most important scene in the film."
"We actually had the chance to show the film--an early cut, to Francis Ford Coppola, whose work inspired a lot of the story," Coogler says. "As soon as the movie was off, he was like, 'Hey, rewind it back to the most important scene in the movie.' I knew exactly what he was talking about." It's "the scene where everything changes," where we discover "the original sin of Wakanda."
28. Coogler says the opening scene was actually about Killmonger's father planning to break his mother out of jail.
"The backstory idea of it was this was through the woman he fell in love with, the African American woman, and the idea was that in Oakland, you see those guys talking about that paperwork in the beginning of the film, they're trying to figure out a way to break her out. She's been incarcerated, they're trying to break her out of jail," Coogler says.
29. Many shots in this scene are mirrored between the past and the present, deliberately.
The shot goes directly from Zuri to the past to Zuri in the present, and from T'Challa to his father and back, repeatedly. "It's the idea of the past becoming present again--of these wounds being fresh," Coogler says.
30. A deleted scene showed Nakia hiding Ross during Killmonger and T'Challa's confrontation.
"We shot a scene with her--right now, she's hiding Ross. That's what she's doing right now," Coogler says.
31. Killmonger breaking the spear is a reference to Shaka Zulu, an influential monarch of the Zulu Kingdom.
Shaka Zulu is widely credited with inventing the "iklwa," a type of short spear. Coogler says Killmonger breaking the spear is also representative of him breaking from traditions.
32. Killmonger's speech here was inspired by a veteran Coogler met.
"He's not bragging about having done these things; if you look at him closely, he's hurt that he had to do these things. There's a level of pain there," Coogler says. The director was inspired by a conversation he and his wife had with a veteran who recounted some of the things he'd done in war.
33. There are hints that T'Challa isn't really dead.
Like these dual panthers flanking Killmonger.
34. Nakia was inspired by Harriett Tubman.
Her headscarf in these scenes is a nod to that, according to Coogler.
35. Marvel's Kevin Feige told Coogler that M'Baku's refusal of the Herb is the most honorable thing in any Marvel movie.
That's a high compliment.
36. They only did two takes of the conversation between T'Challa and M'Baku.
"We were running out of time," Coogler says. Luckily, M'Baku actor Winston Duke "nailed it."
37. The choral vocals as T'Challa emerges from the wrecked ship translate to "Our king."
"This is one of my favorite musical moments," Coogler says.
38. The Battle of Endor provided inspiration for the final act fight.
Coogler says they studied many "third act" battle scenes, including one of Kevin Feige's favorites, the Battle of Endor from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
39. This environment represents both the underground railroad of American history and heart valves.
"They're fighting for the heart of Wakanda," Coogler says. "So you see these mining things that Hannah designed, they almost feel like aortic valves."
40. T'Challa kills Killmonger with the spear that Killmonger broke earlier.
This is the same spear that Killmonger broke in half, Coogler says. It symbolizes, in part, Killmonger being undone by his own complete dismissal of tradition (that's my interpretation).