“They felt that [an African accent] was maybe too much for an audience to take. I felt the exact opposite,” Boseman said on The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast.
“Like if I speak with a British accent, what’s gonna happen when I go home? It felt to me like a dealbreaker. 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.”
Boseman and director Ryan Coogler strived for authenticity, arguing the fictional Wakandans would speak with African dialects — a move Black Panther committed to and wholly embraced.
“No, this is such an important factor that if we lose this right now what else are we going to throw away for the sake of making people feel comfortable?” Boseman said of lobbying for the accents. “So yes that was a huge thing — once we decided to do it, we went for it.”
Boseman’s T’Challa and his accompanying Wakandans speak Xhosa — a real Buntu language characterized by clicks and one of the official languages of South Africa — the language of Nelson Mandela and one that John Kani, who played T’Challa’s father T’Chaka, brought to Captain America: Civil War.
“I wanted that sound in there. There’s different groups but the South African one brought with it this feeling of things that we knew,” Boseman said of the loving exchange in Xhosa seen in Civil War, shortly before T’Chaka is killed by an assassin’s bomb.
“It makes you think of Mandela, you know, it makes you think of that sort of esteem, so there a dynamic there so you can be a symbol of peace. He wasn’t always a symbol of peace, but there’s this symbol of peace along with this warrior. So I was sure about this that it was Xhosa, Xhosa, Xhosa.”
“Ryan and I went back and forth and talked about it, and I said it just makes sense,” Black Panther dialect coach Beth McGuire previously told Slate. “If that’s who you started with, that’s your king of Wakanda, that’s who it is, that’s the language.”
Coogler later said a tender moment shared between T’Challa and late father T’Chaka speaking in their native tongue emerged as one of his favorite Black Panther moments.
“Realizing that we were going to have this film where a father and son talk to each other in this native African language in a superhero movie — it hit me for a moment,” he said. “It was emotionally moving. That was a big one.”
Black Panther went on to become one of the biggest box office hits of all time, becoming the ninth highest-grossing film of all time with $1.3 billion earned worldwide.
Domestically, Black Panther reigned supreme with more than $700 million in tickets sold — making it the third-highest grossing film of all time with $700 million, behind just the James Cameron-directed Avatar ($760m domestic) and Disney’s own Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($936m domestic). The Marvel Studios blockbuster is only the third film in history to reach $700 million domestically, ahead of even Avengers: Infinity War ($678m domestic).
The studio is now developing Black Panther 2.