<Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Marvel film Black Panther. If you’ve not seen it yet GO SEE IT RIGHT NOW!!!!>
Last Thursday night my family and I hit opening night of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest film, Black Panther. Wow – what an incredible film! I’m not going to go into a review of the film here as we’ve already chatted about it some on Random Chatter #167 and Liz and I will be reviewing it soon on Movie Rampage (episode 7 – wait for it!). What’s relevant here is that there were so many similarities in the first two acts of Black Panther to James Bond films – something I totally didn’t expect!
While Black Panther’s overall story was most similar to a traditional hero’s journey, the plot lines were what fed the undertones of similarity between it and a Bond film. The hero’s adversary, at least for the first two acts, was an arms dealer – something 007 has faced several times. As Bond has evolved through the years, we have often seen villains having a personal connection, either directly or only separated by a degree. We’ve certainly seen this with Daniel Craig’s Bond in regard to characters like Mr. White, Silva, and Blofeld. Klaue (pronounced ‘claw’) made things personal with T’Challa (Black Panther) by killing his father (something we saw in Captain America: Civil War), as well as killing the parents of his close friend W’Kabi in years past when Klaue had found his way into Wakanda and stole a quantity of vibranium.
Pulling things even closer, is T’Challa’s love interest, Nakia (played by Lupita Nyong’o). Nakia is a spy for Wakanda. While she was recalled from a mission in Nigeria, in which she appeared to be imbedded as a human trafficking victim, she clearly has connections around the world, as we see later in South Korea. It seems she has a great deal of freedom in how she applies her trade and with a solid moral compass. Through the film she shows her proficiency with several weapons and spy tactics.
Speaking of South Korea, T’Challa, Nakia, and Wakanda’s general, Okoye, played by Danai Gurira (which many people know from AMC’s The Walking Dead), head to South Korea to intercept Klaue as he attempts to sell some vibranium. The buyer happens to be a CIA agent, played by Martin Freeman. The international spy flavor gives us a bit of reminiscence of Bond’s work with CIA agent Felix Leiter. The location of the deal is to be a casino. Several people brought up to me over Black Panther’s opening weekend how much the casino in Black Panther looked so much like the one Bond visited in Macau in Skyfall. With a bit of research, I found the Macau casino from Skyfall to have been a set built in Pinewood Studios (UK), and it seems the South Korea casino in Black Panther was in fact a set built in Pinewood Atlanta, where Marvel films see some significant work. The similarities in the casinos are considerable, though!
Perhaps the most significant similarity we saw between Black Panther and Bond was with T’Challa’s little sister, Shuri. Shuri clearly has genius-level intelligence which surpasses any Q which Bond has ever had the pleasure to work with. Not only does she develop arms and armaments (such as the Black Panther suit and weapons made from vibranium), she appears to be Wakanda’s chief civil engineer, responsible for overseeing the technology that makes Wakada the incredible marvel it is.
Lastly, I’ll direct everyone over to a great interview with Black Panther’s director Ryan Coogler posted today by SlashFilm. In it, Coogler talks about a few things, including some of the James Bond inspiration. I think 007 would be proud!
What other similarities did you spot? Hit me up on Twitter @quigontimm