Black Panther's Chadwick Boseman Fought For The Wakandan Accent

chadwick boseman t'challa black panther

It seems impossible to think of now, but the MCU's version of King T'Challa, better known as the superhero Black Panther, almost didn't have that amazing Wakandan accent. But, it sounds like we have star Chadwick Boseman to thank for the filmmakers coming to the right decision. As you might imagine, he had a lot of prep work to do once he decided to take on the role of the first black superhero to lead his own film in the MCU. Boseman has revealed that, along with getting physical training and learning a specific fighting style, he hired a South African dialect coach who helped him come up with the sound we now associate with the Wakandan lilt. But, as Boseman tells it, some of the filmmakers and higher ups in the MCU weren't so sure about his desire to not either use his own American accent or a British accent. Here's what he had to say:

I was very sure... that it was that feeling, that sound. They felt like it was maybe too much for an audience to take. They felt like: Would people be able to understand it through a whole movie? And if we do it now, we're stuck with it. I felt the exact opposite --- like, if I speak with a British accent, what's gonna happen when I go home? Either British or just with my American accent. So [I'd hear], 'Maybe he studied in Europe; maybe he studied in the Americas?' It felt to me like a deal-breaker. Having gone through similar situations before where I was willing to, like, stand up for it I was like, well, here we go again. So, for them I don't think it was that deep, I think it was an opinion.

Chadwick Boseman noted, in his conversation with The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter Podcast, that in researching African nations as he was preparing to take on his role as T'Challa, that he really felt the native language would have clicks in it, mostly because some of the oldest languages on Earth feature that aspect. He also said that having a South African as his dialect coach, helped to give his new accent some familiarity, because it would make people think of Nelson Mandela and that type of esteem, which, obviously, completely fits when you think of all that Wakanda has been able to accomplish behind the scenes in the MCU.

But, a big worry before he stepped onto the screen as T'Challa in 2016's Captain America: Civil War, was that people might not be able to understand him, and, then, if the accent didn't work, they'd be stuck with it in every big screen iteration of the character. So, the powers that be tried to convince Boseman that using his own accent or a British one would work just fine, since it would be completely plausible for the son of a king to be schooled at one of the major universities in American or British lands. Boseman held fast to his idea of what the character of Black Panther needed, though, and ended up winning out.

Chadwick Boseman also revealed that part of the reason he stuck to his guns was the notion that they might end up throwing many other important aspects of the character or the mythology of Wakanda out, and he really didn't want the accent to turn into a slippery slope. He said:

I was like, 'No, this is such an important factor that if we lose this right now, what else are we gonna throw away for the sake of making people feel comfortable?' So, yes, that was a huge thing. Once we decided to do it, we went for it.

While Chadwick Boseman did have to do some fighting to get his T'Challa accent on screen, it all worked out. And, he gave props in his interview to everyone who listened to his passionate opinion and decided to take his advice and go all-in with it, even when they still had doubts. Seeing as how Black Panther now stands as 2018's highest grossing movie domestically and one of the year's top 10 reviewed films, everyone can tell that he was right.

Black Panther is now available on home video and streaming, and Chadwick Boseman is expected to be seen next as the famed character in Avengers 4, which is due out in April 2019. Until then, be sure to check out our 2018 movie release schedule to see what you can watch through the end of this year.

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Covering The Witcher, Outlander, Virgin River, Sweet Magnolias and a slew of other streaming shows, Adrienne Jones is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend, and started in the fall of 2015. In addition to writing and editing stories on a variety of different topics, she also spends her work days trying to find new ways to write about the many romantic entanglements that fictional characters find themselves in on TV shows. She graduated from Mizzou with a degree in Photojournalism.