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BLACK PANTHER

Language & Customs
It was decided earlier on that Xhosa, one of the official languages of South Africa would be the language of fictional Wakanda and subsequently the Xhosa culture would lend itself as a touchstone to the Wakandan citizenry. A precedent had been set in "Civil War," when celebrated South African actor John Kani, who portrayed King T'Chaka, used his native accent and Boseman, in turn, picked it up.

With an international cast, all hailing from different countries and regions of the world, dialect coach Beth McGuire was tasked with ensuring that there was continuity amongst them all. McGuire, a linguist who works with students at the Yale Repertory Theatre, previously had worked with Lupita Nyong'o for her performance in Danai Gurira's play "Eclipsed" and came to Coogler's attention.

As the director began to fully flesh out what Wakanda would be and how its language would fit into his narrative, he looked to McGuire to work in Xhosa and other languages, including Nigeria's Igbo for the remote Wakandan province of Jabari, and a smattering of Korean, and, of course, Afrikaans for Serkis' Klaue.

For Winston Duke, who plays M'Baku, the language training was fun. "I do more of a Nigerian Igbo influence," he offers. "So it's not Igbo, but it's influenced by Igbo because the rest of the cast is doing South African Xhosa. So they're doing something very specific and rooted and grounded. M'Baku's mountain-strong people, who have been sequestered in the hills in the mountains, have developed to some degree their own culture. We wanted something that had its own personality and had its own beauty. So we referenced Igbo, and that helped. The rhythm of that language influenced the rhythm of my character."

Working in tandem with McGuire, South African actor Atandwa Kani (cast in the role of young T'Chaka to his father John's elder T'Chaka) served as a cultural consultant, lending his expertise of his homeland to the filmmakers. It would prove invaluable when scenes ventured out into Wakanda's streets and countryside but especially during filming of the epic Warrior Falls sequence that had dozens of Wakanda's citizens bearing witness to T'Challa's ascension to the throne.

It's all in the details for Coogler, Feige and the cast, and Kani's participation added another layer of authenticity to the project. Kani clarified the cultural nuances of movement, greetings, songs and chants. At one point, he had everyone on the film set singing songs as musicians played to keep energy and spirits up during complicated shoot days. These organic moments often made their way into filming.

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