Black Panther star Winston Duke, who reprised his role as the mighty M’Baku in Avengers: Infinity War, says directors Anthony and Joe Russo took a “back seat” to Duke and co-stars Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, and Letitia Wright when the action brought the Avengers to Ryan Coogler’s Wakanda.
Speaking to Metro ahead of Jordan Peele-directed horror Us, where Duke reunites with Black Panther co-star Lupita Nyong’o, Duke said the Black Panther crew were welcomed in “right off the bat” and were granted “a lot of freedom” by the Russo brothers.
“We walked on the set and they said ‘We weren’t a part of Black Panther, we don’t know this as deeply as you do so we’re trusting you to bring whatever you want into this and we’ll take a back seat,’” Duke said.
“I taught some of the chants to the guys on set, some of them were new extras who were part of the tribe, and I taught some of the language and the words to other people, and Danai did the same. We got a lot of freedom to just flex and do what we did, create a world and make Wakanda feel flushed out within a movie that wasn’t even really about it.”
Duke previously revealed he sobbed when he learned he had won his Black Panther role, telling People Magazine “it meant so much.”
“I was a big comic, cartoon, animation nerd. So I was really familiar with it, but not as much with Black Panther,” Duke said of the superhero scene. “The neighborhood comic guy where I live in Los Angeles, he pulled every single issue of comic that my character ever appeared in. He found me the first appearance of my character and recommended different iterations of the comic that I look into. So the entire culture of this comic book world has been super supportive since day one.”
The star also recalled watching 2012’s The Avengers with Nyong’o and “had wondered if we’d ever get to be in a movie like that.”
“Such a big budget, crazy vehicles with special effects and tons of funny, cool people that you admire,” he said. “And we were just like ‘Yeah, I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen.’ And then for [Black Panther] to be my first movie, her first Marvel film, we were like, ‘Can you believe that happened? Do you remember Avengers in New Haven, Connecticut?’”
The Russo brothers’ Avengers: Endgame releases April 26.
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