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Director Ryan Coogler Explains Why He Was ‘Terrified’ Of Black Panther

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While co-writer/director Ryan Coogler deserves a great deal of the credit for Black Panther’s success, he was denied a crucial luxury: casting his leading man. In a roundtable discussion included on the home video release of Avengers: Infinity War, he told the Russo Brothers how worried he was before viewing an early cut of Captain America: Civil War.

“When I first started talking with Marvel, you guys were in post,” he said. “Making a film where your lead actor has been cast by somebody is scary. It terrified me. And I knew Chadwick [Boseman] was crazy talented and I didn’t know him at the time yet. I remember just seeing him and seeing the decisions that you guys had made. It went past me like a sigh of relief.”

Even after confirming the suitability of his star, Coogler still had plenty of anxiety about the project. “The biggest fear for us was to make something that was frivolous,” he explained. “That was my biggest fear. The theme of identity as it relates to culture should be something that was at the heart of it. There was also this idea of nationalism. Am I my brother’s keeper? Is it my duty to just take care of my own or do I have a responsibility to people over there… we didn’t know if we were going to connect with it, but every day we were aiming at it.”

For a reminder of Coogler’s ultimate triumph—Black Panther went on to become one of the year’s most acclaimed and successful films—check out the trailer below.