How Ryan Coogler Went About Defining Vibranium And The Heart-Shaped Herb In Black Panther
With the exception of the brief tease in the mid-credits scene of Captain America: Civil War, Wakanda is a brand new world within the Marvel Cinematic Universe that will be introduced in Black Panther. It's a place and society unlike anything audiences have ever on the big screen -- but with that fact comes some very specific challenges. In building out the mysterious African nation, writer/director Ryan Coogler had to cinematically define important canonical elements of Black Panther and actually determine how it all worked -- and as I recently learned from the filmmaker, he had some key assistance:
Ryan Coogler recognized the importance of even the most minor of details in the making of his Marvel Cinematic Universe film, and as I learned about his approach when I had the pleasure of sitting down with him late last month during Black Panther's Los Angeles press days. My first question out of the gate was in regard to how he went about defining the most special parts of Wakanda, including the incredible metal Vibranium and the mystical Heart-Shaped Herb -- which is what gives the titular hero his strength. Coogler admitted it was hard work within building the script, but recognized that it was vital for his cast, and vital for his movie.
In his response, Ryan Coogler also added that there wasn't a whole ton to go on from the comics -- as most Marvel writers tend to lean into the fact that not everything in the canon is entirely defined. In fact, Coogler went as far as to call certain key parts of the Wakandan world "MacGuffins," which is to say plot devices that move the narrative along, but don't really hold any specific weight by themselves:
In Black Panther, Vibranium has a million and one uses -- from specialized technology to the titular hero's specialized cat suit -- and the strength-enhancing Heart-Shaped Herb is not only an incredibly vital part of the coronation ceremony in Wakanda, but allows a spiritual connection between the user and his/her past. Altogether these ideas came from Coogler, his team and the folks at Marvel Studios, who emphasized keeping the roots always in mind. Waid Coogler,
You can watch Ryan Coogler discuss his in-depth work defining the most important and ill-defined elements of Wakanda in the making of Black Panther by clicking play on the video below!
Black Panther has an amazing ensemble that includes stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Winston Duke, and Daniel Kaluuya, and will be in theaters everywhere February 16th.
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NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.