When you’re hearing Wakandans speak in Black Panther, you’re actually hearing the Xhosa accent, which originates from South Africa.
But things could’ve been different if it went Marvel’s way, with the studio apparently wanting a British accent, according to the film’s star Chadwick Boseman.
The film’s dialect coach Beth McGuire told Slate that Xhosa was picked due to the ancestry of South African actor John Kani, who played T’Chaka in the precursor to Black Panther, Captain America: Civil War.
“They felt like it was maybe too much for an audience to take,” Boseman told The Hollywood Reporter’s “Awards Chatter” podcast.
“They felt like people won’t be able to understand it through a whole movie, and if we do it now, we’re stuck with it. I felt the exact opposite, like, if I speak with a British accent, what’s gonna happen when I go home?”
Boseman added that he had a choice between British or using an American accent, but decided the choice of accent was something that he wanted to fight for.
“For them, I don’t think it was that deep. I think it was an opinion, but I don’t think they weren’t like, ‘We’re gonna fire you,'” he said.
“But I was in that place where I was like, ‘No, this is such an important factor that if we lose this right now, what else are we gonna throw away for the sake of making people feel comfortable?’ And so yes, that was a huge thing.”
It’s another instance where Boseman decided to stand up to producers during his acting career. At Howard University’s commencement in May, the actor told of his first television role, in which he raised concerns about his role with the show’s executives.
Boseman took issue with the stereotypical nature of his character, a young, black man who had been pulled into the world of gangs. He was subsequently fired from that role.
“Sometimes you need to get knocked down before you can really figure out what your fight is. And how you need to fight it,” he told the crowd at the time.