Watch: These BTS Videos Will Get You Even More Stoked to See 'Black Panther'
Get some insights into how Ryan Coogler’s superhero epic was made.
[SPOILER ALERT: Though this post does not contain major plot points, you may want to wait until after seeing the film to avoid any sneak peeks of sets or scenes.]
It's finally here: opening weekend of co-writer/director Ryan Coogler's hotly anticipated blockbuster Black Panther. The film is so anticipated, in fact, that it has broken the ticket presale record for all superhero movies, beating the previous one set by Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. In the movie, Chadwick Boseman plays T'Challa, a prince who returns to his technologically advanced African country to rule as king after his father's death while leading a double life as the superhero Black Panther.
Despite the fact that this is the 18th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which also includes The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy), one theme runs across all of these BTS videos: this will not be your typical superhero movie.
DP Rachel Morrison on surprising visual influences
Cinematographer Rachel Morrison (Oscar-nominated this year for Mudbound), shot Ryan Coogler’s breakout indie hit Fruitvale Station. Though some of the cast and crew came along with the director for Black Panther, the two films couldn’t be more different in scale and tone. In this video, Morrison shares that “Part of the reason Ryan was drawn to me is because it wasn't my wheelhouse and he wanted to do something that was very different.”
She notes that most of the films that Coogler gave her for reference weren't superhero films; they were movies with vast landscapes and rich visuals like Samsara and Baraka, or larger-than-life characters like The Godfather. Given that the video is sponsored by IMAX, Morrison also shares some technical details about which scenes were composed in 1.90 for IMAX vs. 2.39 for the rest of the film.
The return of the Dutch angle
Cooke Optics also spoke with Rachel Morrison about her work on the film. In an ode to both her own and Coogler's indie roots, she shares that the director “would have shot a single camera if he could.” She adds, “This is in an industry where you look at Avengers and I think they have 12 cameras going at any given time,” but Black Panther only used two main cameras. (According to IMDB, these were Arri Alexa XT Plus with Panavision Primo Lenses.)
Just because the film took several novel approaches doesn’t mean that Morrison didn’t have to immerse herself in superhero movies of the past. She recalls, “I literally had to sort of learn a new language just to have a jumping-off point from which to shoot.” She notes that comic books even have their own way of being read, which played into the composition of her frames. One example? “Compositionally, things like Dutch angles that you spent an entire career avoiding and then suddenly that's actually inherent to the language.”
A new kind of car chase
From the New York Times Anatomy of a Scene series, in this video, Ryan Coogler breaks down a VFX-heavy scene where T’Challa’s sister is “remote driving” a car in a chase scene in Korea from back home in Wakanda using super modern tech. “The whole idea of this scene is that we wanted to have a car chase that was unlike any we had seen before,” Coogler recalls.
To do so, they played with a theme that runs throughout the movie: pairing “traditionalists” with “innovators.” The big challenge of getting the shot, however, wasn’t the tech; it was getting the fabric of the warrior Okoye’s dress to flow properly and not be impeded by the bracing system she was sitting on as she rode atop the car, spear in hand.
Coogler’s advice to young filmmakers
If you’re not convinced yet, just take a cue from the up-and-comers. Young people are so excited about this film, and one group of aspiring filmmakers got some wisdom—and tickets to the premiere—dropped by Ryan Coogler himself. In this sweet video, he tells fellows from Ghetto Film School: Stay you. This industry is a strange one in that it can change you. Find out who you are…and once you find that, hold onto it. Be unapologetic about it 'cause it's gonna be the perspective you need.
Pump up the jams
Finally, you can get pumped by listening to the vibrant Kendrick Lamar-fronted soundtrack on Spotify. Lamar, who has writing credits on all 14 tracks and performs on five of them, said in a press announcement: Marvel Studios' Black Panther is amazing, from its cast to its director. The magnitude of this film showcases a great marriage of art and culture. I'm truly honored to contribute my knowledge of producing sound and writing music alongside Ryan and Marvel's vision.