As I’ve said before, the more I think about Black Panther the worse the writing in the film gets. As a side effect, I found myself thinking about how I might have done it instead, had I been in charge of writing it. The result was the following rough outline, which I now present to you (by the way, I don’t know how much this fits with the ‘Black Panther’ comics, but from what I’ve seen of the comics, I don’t particularly care).
We open on darkness, a child’s voice says “Papa, tell me a story.”
The voice of T’Chaka then begins narrating in a kindly, fatherly manner:
“Many, many years ago, a mountain fell from the sky in a blaze of fire. Its arrival was so terrible that for many years no one dared approach it. But in its fall, ten pieces of it were thrown off and scattered among the tribes. And wherever they landed, they brought strife and violence, for they were worth more than all the gold and gems in the world. Warriors fought one another like beasts for them, and all the land was in woe.
Then, one day, a great warrior, seeing the chaos, said to himself ‘I shall take these fragments back to the fallen mountain, so they may trouble us no more.’ For years he travelled the length and breadth of the land, winning each piece by defeating the ten greatest warriors in the world.
At the end of that time, he had all ten pieces and was the richest man there ever was. He could have used them to rule a mighty empire. But he kept to his vow and, taking the precious fragments, climbed to the summit of the fallen mountain.
Upon the summit, he met Basth, the Panther Goddess. She was so struck by his courage and his honesty that she said to him: “Of all the men on the earth, you are the first who has touched my heart. Therefore I shall marry you, and give you all this mountain for my dowry.”
The warrior and the goddess were wed, and founded their city about the slopes of the Fallen Mountain. The goddess taught him how to use the mountain’s bones to make tools and weapons, and by her craft she wove it into a suit of armor modeled after her beloved panther, and the ten fragments became its claws.
Thus they brought order and peace between the five tribes, and Wakanda was born.
For many, many years, the warrior and the goddess ruled over the five tribes in peace and justice. But the warrior was mortal, and so grew old and, in time, died. Basth was inconsolable with grief, and returned to the sky to mourn her lost love. But before she went she took her son and the leaders of the five tribes to the top of the mountain to give her final command.
“All this land, from the river to the white peaks, is Wakanda,” she said. “It is your forever, my children, and none shall take it from you. But I warn you: never, never seek to expand its borders beyond these limits. For your own land is enough for you, and your own treasure enough to guard. If ever you attempt to become a cruel empire and rule over your kin, this mountain, and all its treasure, will be taken back to the sky.”
Then the goddess departed, and ever since then, her descendants have ruled Wakanda and guarded its treasures, and shall do so until the sun falls.”
We now see the jungle at night. A cloaked platform is hidden among the trees, from which M’Baku, a skilled warrior and a giant gorilla of a man, is peering along what looks to be a blowpipe at a line of vehicles wending its way through the forest.
“I make five,” he says.
“Six,” comes the answer. We pan up to see the outline of the Black Panther crouched on a tree branch, watching the convoy.
Another figure in a horned mask, wearing scale armor, sits in the tree beside M’Baku. This is Eklabu. He orders M’Baku to take out the lead vehicle, but Black Panther orders them to wait until the convoy crosses the border into Wakanda.
We see from the vehicle point of view as they cross a rickety bridge over a raging river into Wakandan territory, rolling over the border gate and ignoring the signs forbidding entrance. They draw further into Wakandan territory before Black Panther orders M’Baku to take out the lead vehicle.
M’Baku affixes a small cylinder to the end of his pipe, takes aim, and blows. We then see that the ‘blow gun’ is actually a rail-gun. As soon as he puts the little stone suspended in the cylinder into motion by blowing it, it is swiftly accelerated to just below the speed of light. It hits the lead vehicle with the force of a bomb.
The convoy stops in a panic and the mercenaries get out, armed to the teeth. Then Black Panther swoops in and begins expertly disabling them. He doesn’t kill them, only rips their weapons apart and knocks them out. Eklabu appears as well, attacking from the rear. He savagely tears into the men, brutally massacring them by stabbing and slicing with his spear or simply beating them senseless with his super-human strength and agility. One of the mercenaries throws down his gun and tries to surrender. Eklabu picks him up and bashes his brains out against the side of the truck so hard that he dents the fender (we only see the resulting blood-stained impression).
Black Panther furiously orders him to stand down as Okoye, his Amazonian bodyguard and her troops appear from the bushes. Black Panther checks on the human cargo, tells them they are now safe, and orders Okoye to take them back to their homes before leaving with Eklabu.
Back in the forward base hidden among the trees, T’Challa and Eklabu both take off their helmets. T’Challa angrily rebukes him for his savagery, while Eklabu answers that the men were scum who deserved to die.
T’Challa: “Not when they are trying to surrender!”
Eklabu then angrily points to the suffering going on all around them while they sit in their borders and do nothing.
Eklabu: “Right across that river people are being slaughtered and enslaved, and we do nothing. Then they travel two miles out of their way, suddenly it matters to us.”
T’Challa says their duty is to protect Wakanda; that is the purpose of the royal family. Furthermore, once they start trying to fix other people’s problems, it will never end, and they are liable to only make things worse. We learn here that they are cousins, and that Eklabu’s father was killed during a mission that went bad during a war in the Congo.
The argument escalates, and finally Eklabu snaps “you are not king yet.”
They return to the capital, where we meet T’Challa’s mother and sister. His sister, Shuri, is a tall, extremely dignified young woman; every inch the daughter of a king. She, we learn, rules Wakanda in her brother’s absence.
Everyone treats T’Challa with immense respect bordering on fear. He carries himself as a king at every moment and his people bow reverently whenever they see him.
T’Challa next visits the armory, where he meets Zurai, their lead scientist. He is a venerable, gray haired man in charge of a scientific team. He is also grooming his rebellious daughter, Nakia, to one day take on the mantle. Nakia is a cute, sunny young woman with a great love for western culture. She also is the only one who can tease the king and get away with it, which she proceeds to do by pestering him about whether he got Iron Man or Captain America’s autograph. T’Challa takes it in stride, smiling benignly on her and humoring her. During this time, Zurai describes the Wakandan power grid, which is formed by the resonance of all the vibranium throughout the country, creating an infinite supply of energy.
As T’Challa leaves, we see Nakia gazing longingly after him, only for her father to smack her upside the head and remind her that the king will not give a thought to the likes of her. She answers “doesn’t mean I can’t give a thought to him.”
We next get another scene of T’Challa and Eklabu, in the latter’s chamber where they seem to reconcile. T’Challa tells him that he needs his support, as guarding the borders will be Eklabu’s duty, and that he is open to the possibility of taking a more active role in the world, especially after what he saw with the Avengers, but only if they can find a way that will not jeopardize Wakanda. The cousins then share a moment of levity.
The next day is the coronation, wherein T’Challa assumes the throne. This takes place at the summit of the Fallen Mountain (not in some stupid waterfall arena), where legend has it the warrior first met and wed Basth. The five tribes and the Royal family, together with certain dignitaries (including Zurai and his daughter) are assembled, and the high priest reads out King T’Chaka’s achievements before offering T’Challa the throne. He then asks whether any one wishes to dispute T’Challa’s right to be king.
To everyone’s shock, Eklabu does so. He announces that T’Chaka murdered his father, that he saw it happen as a boy, and that “twenty years with a murderer on the throne is long enough.” During his description, we see a flashback to him as a boy hiding behind a corner while T’Chaka and his father argue. Suddenly there is a gunshot, and when Eklabu emerged he found his father dead.
T’Challa is enraged and the ceremonial combat begins. The two savagely beat on each other using their superhuman speed and power, with Eklabu pouring out all the anger he’s kept bottled up for two decades against T’Challa and his father. It finally ends with T’Challa being thrown off the cliff, presumably to his death. Eklabu then assumes the throne, promising to restore the dignity of the throne.
Late that night, the distraught Nakia sneaks out of the city to try to find T’Challa’s body. She is caught by M’Baku, who turns out to have the same object. They search, but find nothing. Then, all of a sudden, T’Challa himself comes crawling out of the forest, incapacitated by a spinal injury, but alive. He wants to challenge Eklabu at once, but the others remind him that, one, the ceremony is over and he has no right to do so, and two, he is no state to try even if he could.
T’Challa thus decides to leave Wakanda to heal and plan his campaign. Nakia insists on going with him, as does M’Baku.
We cut to the palace where Eklabu finds Shuri standing by a window. He walks up to her and expresses his surprise that she remains. She comments that her place is beside the throne. When Elabu asks whether it isn’t a risk for her to remain within his reach, given his hatred of her father and brother, she answers “to be killed by you would put me in better company than to rule with you.”
His claws (he’s wearing the Black Panther suit) start to come out at that, but she then adds that he would not dare lay a hand on her. He’s surprised, then laughs that he is the king and can do what he likes.
Shuri: “And I am a princess. Do you think the people of Wakanda would stand it if you raised a hand against a member of the royal family?”
He grins. “I am the Black Panther. What could they do?”
Shuri smiles and begins describing the composition of the wall he is standing behind, before concluding “Do you know how much resistance that would provide to a rail gun aimed at your unprotected head? None at all.”
This disturbs him visibly, and she adds “A king only rules as long as his people will allow him to. Perhaps you should have thought of that before you killed my brother.”
Eklabu retreats to his chambers, where he prays and has a vision of his father. He discusses the future, and his father agrees that Wakanda will not be easily swayed to break its long isolation. Eklabu says he will give them no choice, and declares that he’ll take all of Africa before he’s done.
T’Challa, Nakia, and M’Baku flee Wakanda and end up in a neighboring nation call Buandi, where they find a ‘doctors without borders’ station to have T’Challa’s spine looked at. The doctor is amazed that he is still alive and able to move with his injury. He is reluctant to operate, and M’Baku angrily orders him to obey. The doctor protests that he might kill him, and M’Baku says that if T’Challa dies, he dies.
Doctor: “Well now I’m definitely not gonna try!”
T’Challa intervenes and assures the doctor that he will be him no grudge if anything goes wrong, ordering M’Baku to stand down.
The argument attracts the attention of Everett Ross, the CIA operative, who walks into the tent and whistles in recognition of T’Challa.
Ross: “Your highness. I’m sure there’s a reason the King of Wakanda is in an aid tent, but you don’t look in the mood to tell me.”
The doctor says he wants him to perform a spinal surgery, Ross advises him to try as “He’s pretty good at surviving.”
The doctor operates, resetting T’Challa’s spine while the king refuses morphine and grits his teeth. Nakia impulsively tries to hold his hand, but he doesn’t take hers.
The surgery completed, he lies there while his superhuman cells heal his injury, and Nakia and M’Baku tell Ross about Eklabu’s coup.
Ross: “Where I come from we have elections. They’re nowhere near as civil, but people generally walk away with intact spines.”
T’Challa asks what Ross is doing there, and Ross says that he’s interviewing survivors of the latest massacre. When the Wakandans express confusion, Ross explains that Buandi is in civil war and has been for years; the rebels prey on poor farming villages and travellers, while the government forces focus on protecting such business interests as the country has and avoid engaging with the militants if possible. This, he says, is because the rebels are armed with hi-tech weaponry.
Hearing this, T’Challa sits up, wincing, but looking fierce.
T’Challa: “What kind of weaponry?”
Ross: “Funny you should ask. You, see I’m here looking for their supplier, and I have an idea you’ve met.”
Cut to an old ivory station in the jungle. Here Ulysses Klaue has his base of operations. We see him interrogating one of his workers and accusing the man of dealing under the table. His right arm a mechanical nightmare that lives up to his name.
Klaue tells the man that, in his organization, “you’re only allowed to cheat when I say so.” The man pleads, obviously terrified of Klaue, that he’s innocent. Klaue acts surprised at hearing that.
Klaue: “Oh, innocent? Well, that changes everything. I’m sorry; I had no idea.”
He turns away, feigning distress, then suddenly whips around and fires a blue laser from his mechanical palm, blasting the man to ash.
Klaue: “I’ve got no use for innocent people in my organization.”
Klaue then goes into his chambers to look over some new weaponry. Suddenly the Black Panther drops from the ceiling. Klaue, apparently unconcerned, gives a mock bow.
Klaue: “Your royal highness. This is an honor, and so soon after your coronation too! Allow me, as one who so admires the throne of Wakanda, to express my congratulations.”
Eklabu removes his helmet and asks how he knows so much. Klaue answers that even in Wakanda there are people on the bottom of the ladder who are willing to sell what they know. Eklabu smilingly asks whether he’d be willing to give the names of these people, Klaue answers that it depends on what he’ll bid for them. Eklabu asks whether he thinks he’s there to bargain, Klaue replies that, if he weren’t, they wouldn’t be speaking.
Eklabu tells Klaue that he wants the Buandi war to spill over in to Wakanda. He wants Wakandan blood spilled on Wakandan soil. Klaue laughs that he’s buying the deaths of his own people.
Klaue: “You’re a trader in death. A killmonger.”
Eklabu answers that a little blood is necessary to wake his people out of their stupor. He tells Klaue to name his price…and to throw in the names of informants as well, as “A king needs his spies.”
Klaue laughs and pours them both a drink.
Klaue: “Is this the beginning of a beautiful friendship?”
Eklabu: “I wouldn’t count on it.”
Klaue (toasts): “Good answer.”
We cut back to T’Challa, who is talking with Ross. Ross suggests that, if T’Challa intends to retake the throne, he might consider cutting a trade deal with the US in exchange for aid. T’Challa feigns ignorance; what does he think Wakanda has to offer? Ross says he has an idea:
Ross: “I see the king of a third world country running around in the most advanced body armor I’ve ever seen, then I think about how you’re also the only place that produces the most valuable medal in the world, and suddenly I start to wonder whether Wakanda is quite so poor as it makes out.”
T’Challa: “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
Ross: (Smiles) “Alright. But if you change your mind, remember the US is pretty good at changing governments.”
M’Baku: “Pretty good at taking over governments, you mean!”
Ross: “That too.”
T’Challa says that he will not sell the honor of Wakanda for his throne.
He leaves Ross and walks into the jungle, where, out of sight of everyone, he punches a tree so hard he shatters the trunk.
Nakia: “Careful! I think that one’s endangered! Can’t start our lives in the outside world by offending the environmentalists: according to the internet they basically run the place.”
T’Challa: “Do not follow me.”
Nakia: “I am sorry. I only thought…you might not want to be alone.
T’Challa: “That is exactly what I do want. I need to think…to plan how I am going to regain my throne.”
Nakia looks troubled, then begs permission to speak.
T’Challa: “I am not king, Nakia; you do not have to beg permission.”
Nakia: “But I think I should, because you are not going to like what I have to say.”
She suggests that trying to retake the throne might make things worse: like it or not, he lost the fight and so has no real claim to it anymore. As long as Eklabu keeps the support of the tribes, T’Challa would only, at best, bring civil war to Wakanda. At worst he’d get himself killed.
She shrinks back in alarm when glares at her, but then he slumps to the ground and says that perhaps he doesn’t deserve to king anyway. If what Eklabu said was true…Nakia says it wasn’t. It couldn’t be.
T’Challa: “I’ve seen, and felt, hatred like that before. It does not come from nothing.”
He asks her to leave him, and he begins to engage in fervent prayer, communing with the spirit of his father, who appears to him in a vision. T’Challa confesses how much he misses him, and that he feels he has failed.
T’Chaka answers that he is the one who failed. T’Challa asks whether it is true he killed his own brother, and T’Chaka hesitates, which to T’Challa’s mind confirms it. The vision ends with him roaring his agony to the sky.
Suddenly, he hears gunfire coming from what Ross says is the direction of a nearby village. T’Challa draws a deep breath, pushes his own suffering down, and begins running through the forest.
Meanwhile Ross is on the phone trying to get UN troops to come and help. When he fails to get through he grabs a rifle and asks M’Baku if he’s any good in a fight. M’Baku laughs and shoulders his rail gun.
We cut to the village, where women and children are being herded to one corner while the men futilely try to fight. The militants all have vibranium armor and carry powerful energy weapons. One man is seen defending his wife and children with a farm tool, which shatters against the militant’s armor. The bad guy laughs at the blow, beats the man to the ground, and prepares to decapitate him.
T’Challa (wearing a black mask over his face), comes flying in from the trees with a noise like a panther roar, dispatches the militant with a few quick blows and relieves him of his blade and knife. The other militants turn on him, and with his new weapons he begins utterly decimating them with his speed, agility, and raw power, slashing at them like a cat with his blades.
A jeep armed with a machine gun rolls up and opens fire on T’Challa, who dodges and ducks, but can’t get close enough to attack…then it blows up with a single shot from M’Baku’s rail-gun.
Ross: “…Can I borrow that sometime?”
M’Baku: (threatening growl)
T’Challa finishes up by beating up the militant leader, but refrains from killing him.
Back in Wakanda, Eklabu, together with the leaders of the five tribes, Shuri, and the queen mother are participating in a ritual honoring Basth. Suddenly, it is interrupted when a missile lands in the midst of the circle, killing the five leaders and the queen, though Eklabu saves Shuri, who escapes injured.
As the dust settles, one of the guards says that the weapon came from outside the borders, but was of Wakandan make. Eklabu says that this proves that someone has been stealing Wakandan technology, and that their borders are no longer enough to keep them safe. One of his cronies then comes forward saying that they have intelligence that T’Challa is alive and has been seen conferring with foreigners, together with Zurai’s daughter, who knows the secrets of Wakandan tech. Zurai is furious at the accusation, but Eklabu asks if he has a better explanation for what happens. With the support of the people, he assumes full control and tells them to prepare for war to avenge this atrocity and secure Wakanda against foreign treachery.
Back at the village, T’Challa, Nakia, and M’Baku help the villagers while Ross interrogates the militants. Nakia has a moment where she tenderly cares for a little girl who has been injured in the fight, cheering her up with a folk song. T’Challa watches with admiration.
Ross appears with the news that they now have Klaue’s base, but that it’s deep in the rebel-controlled zone where the military won’t go. He suggests that the three of them might be able to mount an attack. Nakia insists on coming as well, noting that they might need her to get around Klaue’s tech. She also repairs some of the weapons recovered from the militants.
M’Baku tries to prevent Ross from taking one, noting that only Wakandans are permitted to use them.
Ross: “Well, you know us white people: not big on respecting local customs.” (picks up the weapon).
M’Baku gets angry, but T’Challa stops him, noting that they’ll need Ross’s help.
That night, we have a tense scene of the four of them infiltrating Klaue’s camp. As they approach, they realize Klaue is about to make another shipment of weapons, these worse than before: long-range emplaced rail-guns that could be mounted on vehicles or behind fortifications. These could destroy any vehicle currently in use.
T’Challa takes out his guards one-by-one with stealth, then Nakia slips in to take down his alarm system and stop the shipment, which is being delivered by drone as added security. Klaue, meanwhile, senses something wrong and starts moving toward her position. T’Challa gives the signal and M’Baku and Ross open fire, distracting him and focusing his attention on them. Nakia succeeds, then T’Challa attacks, taking out Klaue’s guards before going one-on-one with him.
Klaue is extremely dangerous with his mechanical hand, as well as suit of vibranium armor similar to what Eklabu wore in the opening. Ross and M’Baku join in, then Nakia, who distracts him long enough for T’Challa to catch him off guard and tear his mechanical arm off.
Klaue, however, seems unconcerned, cracking jokes at T’Challa’s expense for losing his throne. He also reveals Eklabu’s falseflag attack, and that he killed T’Challa’s mother as well as the five tribal leaders, and that “Killmonger” means to conquer Africa and maybe the world. He also reveals that Eklabu has blamed T’Challa for the attack and for selling Wakandan technology to the outside world, meaning he’ll be arrested and executed if he tries to return.
T’Challa is furious and ready to kill Klaue, but he then plays his final hand: he’ll give T’Challa a recording of his meeting with Killmonger in exchange for one hour’s head start. And, he says, considering Killmonger will start his war in the morning, they don’t really have time to search for it…or to go after him.
M’Baku asks what’s to prevent them from taking the deal and killing him anyway.
Klaue: “Oh, I have much too much respect for the throne of Wakanda to think you’d do that. A king would never go back on his word, would he?”
Furious, T’Challa accedes to Klaue’s deal. Klaue gives him the recording and then disappears.
They then have to decide what to do about it: T’Challa must challenge Eklabu for the throne, but he fears whether he is truly worthy of it, given the history of his family. Moreover, Nakia points out that, with the five chiefs dead, Eklabu basically runs the government alone, and that they may have a fight to even get to position where they can use the recording against him. Ross offers the support of the CIA in exchange for vibranium, but T’Challa refuses.
Ross: “Well, not to play the white savior, but Eklabu has an army. An army that you claim is the most advanced in the world, while you have yourself, a girl, and a great ape.” (M’Baku glares at him) “I mean that in the best possible way. Let us help you!”
T’Challa refuses, saying he cannot bargain for his throne with foreigners, growing angry.
T’Challa: “You don’t care about Wakanda. You are just like all the rest of your people: only after what you can get.”
Ross: “I don’t care about who sits on a chair in the most isolated country on Earth? You’re right; I don’t. Why should I? What have you people ever done that I should care? At the moment, what I’m after is some way to convince my government that stopping this war, which is claiming the lives of thousands of innocent people, is in our best interests, and if we had an ally in the region, an ally who supplies extremely valuable technology and resources, that might be a reason. But I don’t suppose that matters to you.”
T’Challa lunges at him in anger, but Nakia stops him. He then demands to be left alone.
As the others leave, Nakia becomes upset and confesses to M’Baku that she’s afraid no matter what happens: if T’Challa fails, he’ll die. If he succeeds…she doesn’t finish, but he understands and gives him a comforting bear hug.
Meanwhile T’Challa prays once more, communing with his ancestors for guidance. He has a vision in which he sees, not his father, but an upright, elderly woman (in an ideal world she’d be played by Eartha Kitt). This, it turns out, is Basth herself. T’Challa admits to her that he is uncertain what to do and whether he is even worthy to be king.
Basth: “It is not the armor that makes you the Black Panther: it is what is beneath the armor. In here.” (she places her hand over his heart) “If anyone can stop you from being a king by taking your throne or your crown or your armor, then you never were one to begin with. But I don’t believe that for a moment.”
He returns to the present and declares that, by the next sunset, he will be on the throne or in the ground of Wakanda. Nakia and M’Baku volunteer to go with them, as does Ross.
T’Challa: “I told you I don’t want help from the CIA.”
Ross: “You’re not getting it. You’re getting help from a friend.”
Back in Wakanda, Eklabu gives a speech to his army as they prepare to conquer Buandi and the neighboring regions, declaring that T’Chaka was a murderer and T’Challa is a traitor, and that because of them Wakanda has no choice but to abandon its traditions and expand to remain safe.
Afterward, Shuri catches him and tells him he is a liar; that her brother would never betray Wakanda. Eklabu asks whether you can truly know anyone, and she answers “people like you cannot.” Eklabu responds that no one will question the king who rescued their beloved princess from her traitorous brother.
Meanwhile, T’Challa and his friends are preparing to cross into Wakanda. The plan is that Nakia, together with T’Challa, will slip into the palace to broadcast Klaue’s recording, while Ross and M’Baku keep the army from leaving Wakandan territory.
Ross: “Two of us against the most advanced army in the world?”
M’Baku: “Those are the odds I’ve always dreamt of!”
T’Challa and Nakia slip quietly into the city. As they infiltrate the palace, with her hacking the security panels and him subduing guards, she asks what will happen if the army leaves Wakanda. T’Challa says that, according to the legend, Fallen Mountain will be taken back to the sky. She asks if he believes that, he says “I would rather not risk it.”
The Wakandan army begins advancing to the borders, with numerous ships, vehicles, and hundreds of soldiers. M’Baku hands Ross the rail gun to cover him while he goes and plants mines to slow them down.
M’Baku: (handing him the gun) “Twist, aim, and blow. Can you do that?”
Ross: “I think my primitive savage brain can just handle it.”
M’Baku: “You certainly have wind to spare.”
T’Challa and Nakia slip into Fallen Mountain as a back route to the palace. As they do, Nakia notices something strange about the vibranium. They pause for her to examine it, and she realizes that it’s growing unstable:
Nakia: “Large amounts of vibranium form an energy resonant network; a natural power grid.”
T’Challa: “Right, I know that.”
Nakia: “Well, as long as the vast majority remains in one place, the grid is stable, but if too much moves too far at once, it…it’ll overload.”
T’Challa: “Overload? What do you mean? How bad?”
Nakia: “Give me a second…” (she does some quick calculations, then looks up in shock) “If the army goes a mile past the river, the crater will reach the Indian Ocean.”
T’Challa (stunned) “Why haven’t we known this before?”
Nakia: “No one’s ever tried moving this much vibranium away from the mountain at once! It’s only been bits and pieces. But this…”
They look at each other, then T’Challa gets on his communicator and tells Ross and M’Baku to stop the army at all costs.
Ross: “You said to try to avoid killing anyone…”
T’Challa: “Doesn’t matter now. If they cross the border, the mountain will explode.”
Ross: “Are we talking firecracker, nuke…”
Nakia: “It’ll blow Africa in half!”
Ross: “Okay then,” (aims the rail gun) “No more playing nice.”
T’Challa and Nakia reach the main communication chamber, but there they are caught by Okoye and her guards. T’Challa tells her that Eklabu has betrayed them, and that he has proof. She hesitates, unsure whom to believe the Eklabu himself appears in his Black Panther garb.
Eklabu says he expected as much from T’Challa, though he didn’t expect him to try to fight the whole of Wakanda with only four people. Shuri then suddenly shows up and hits Okoye with a tazer, correcting him that it’s five.
This sparks a fight, with Shuri, with a little help from Nakia, taking on the guards with her own physical powers (as she too is a descendent of Basth) while T’Challa clashes with Eklabu. Their fight spills into the throne room, where T’Challa grabs a spear from a rack. T’Challa tries to warn Eklabu that his plan will destroy Wakanda, but Eklabu will not listen, accusing him of merely wishing to steal his glory.
T’Challa: (contemptuous) “You sit on that throne, you put on that armor, and you think that makes you a king?”
Meanwhile, M’Baku and Ross struggle to survive and keep the army too busy to move. They are pinned down and seem about to die. They clasp hands and declare it has been an honor.
Eklabu, with the Black Panther suit, has a crucial advantage and gets T’Challa on the ropes.
Eklabu: “What a pathetic king you are.”
T’Challa: “But I am a king.”
With Shuri holding off the guards, Nakia puts in the data disk and projects it onto the shield surrounding Wakanda, so that the entire population sees it. The army pauses its assault to watch. The broadcast distracts Eklabu, allowing T’Challa to get the drop on him and tear the helmet off. The fight resumes, with Eklabu enraged by the sudden overthrow of his plans. He pins T’Challa against the throne and tries to tear his throat out with his claws, which T’Challa barely holds off.
Eklabu: “If nothing else, I will kill you and your bitch sister!”
T’Challa, in a sudden burst of rage, reverses the attack, grabs Eklabu’s head, and slams it into the throne, knocking him out. He then picks up the spear and prepares to kill him, when Shuri and Nakia come in. He sees their faces, then looks at the throne, which was cracked by the impact, and throws the spear away. Okoye and her guards come in, see the scene, and bow, beseeching forgiveness. T’Challa orders them to take Eklabu into prison and remove his armor.
The next scene is T’Challa, once again wearing the Black Panther armor, standing on his balcony overlooking his people. He announces that he has returned to claim the throne and asks if any disputes his right to rule. The answer is a cheer.
T’Challa greets M’Baku and Ross, who are bruised and bloodied, but alive. Ross says he hopes Wakanda and the United States will enjoy good relations in the future. T’Challa agrees, then comments that perhaps it is time their isolation comes to an end; if they cannot expand their own borders, they can at least share their bounty. He tells M’Baku that one of the tribes (from which he hails) appears in need of a leader, and he needs a general. M’Baku grins in appreciation and bows.
T’Challa adds to Shuri that, once they have settled things here, he may be away more often than not, as there is much to be done in the surrounding countries.
T’Challa: “Perhaps it is time the Black Panther becomes a sign of hope for more than just Wakanda.”
There is then a scene of T’Challa visiting Eklabu in the dungeon. He tells Eklabu that he now knows what happened: T’Chaka didn’t kill Eklabu’s father. He caught him selling Wakandan weapons to rebels the Congo, hoping to make a better life for the people there. But when T’Chaka revealed that those same weapons were being used to commit atrocities, Eklabu’s father killed himself out of shame before his brother could stop him.
Eklabu: “He may not have pulled the trigger, but he drove him to his death.”
T’Challa: “Your father chose his own path, as have you. I hope, in time, you will think better of it.”
He leaves him and goes to watch the sunset from the top of Fallen Mountain. Nakia joins him, complaining that she’d been waiting for hours and it’s cold up there. He asks why she thought he’d come, she says because she knows how he likes to brood, and that there’s no better spot in Wakanda for it.
Nakia: “I brood up here myself sometimes. Or listen to my ipod. Actually, mostly that, but some brooding.”
There is a pause. She comments that he’s king now. He agrees.
Nakia: “It’s funny; when you were deposed, all I wanted was to help you take back the throne. Now, I almost wish you hadn’t.”
T’Challa: “Oh? Why not?”
Nakia: “Well, a king wouldn’t even look at someone like me.”
T’Challa: (surprised) “You don’t know many kings, do you?”
Nakia: “Only one. That’s more than enough for me.”
T’Challa: “The way I see it, a king can look at whoever he wants.”
He pulls her close and they kiss in front of the Wakandan sunset.
11 thoughts on “How I Would have Written ‘Black Panther’”
Very nice. Your version is much more interesting than the actual film – I think Letitia Wright would have been perfect for your version of Nakia. It’s just too bad that Marvel didn’t hire you to write the screenplay. 😉
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You’re welcome. I also like the way you wrote M’Baku. In the comics, he is (or maybe was) a villain, but you make him much more impressive here. Your handling of T’Challa was also closer to the original stories, in my opinion, than the film’s. Two thumbs up, all the way around!
I’m curious – do many published authors write pieces like yours, or is it considered unprofessional? I have seen other pieces like this on professional author’s sites, but I always wonder if it is considered improper behavior by prospective publishers.
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Yeah, among the many problems I had with the film was how dull and, well, wimpy T’Challa was, especially compared to how he was in ‘Civil War.’
Well, embarrassing as it is to admit, I’m not exactly a published author yet, except my little-seen collection of essays. I honestly have no idea what publishers might think of this sort of thing: I actually hadn’t considered that. I know some authors stop doing movie reviews after they start being successful just in case they end up working with someone involved. Honestly, though, considering how big, public, and impersonal a blockbuster like this is, I can’t really picture it being considered too far out of bounds.
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That was something I got from the descriptions of the film (I haven’t seen it just yet), which struck me as off. From what I know of T’Challa from research and previous animated viewings, he was always an interesting, imposing character in every respect. They captured that well in Civil War, but from what has been said about Black Panther, it seems as though they decided to make Shuri more of the focus for the story rather than T’Challa. A very odd decision on their part.
You’ve had articles published by the Federalist; I would say that qualifies you as being a “published author.” Your article on Infinity War was very interesting. I haven’t seen it yet, but after reading all the spoilers (I couldn’t stand not knowing what had happened!), it felt like my heart had been ripped out. I’m hoping Avengers 4 sets everything right without killing off any major characters, but I can’t help worrying that this might happen. The Avengers, especially their leader, have been particularly helpful for our culture in these upset times, and the idea of losing that inspirational aid is, frankly, frightening to me.
I wouldn’t say Shuri was the focus of the film, just that she was pretty much the only heroic character with ANY kind of personality, so that made her stand out. T’Challa was just kind of soulfully decent and did things like stammer nervously around his ex-girlfriend and feebly protest when his sister pranks him, which, even having no knowledge of the character outside ‘Civil War,’ really irritated me.
I’m glad you liked the ‘Infinity War’ article, and that you consider that makes me a ‘published author.’ Yeah, honestly I strongly suspect most of the original line up, including Cap, probably won’t make it through the next film, which I agree is discouraging given how few inspiring heroes we have in the present culture. I suppose that means it’s up to us authors to supply the lack.
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THAT is definitely not the T’Challa I have known in Marvel’s previous media.
Actually, the one character I feel most sure we will lose is Cap, which would be a real blow to cultural morale, in my opinion. I know that Renner still has four, maybe three, films in his contract, so we may not lose him just yet. It seems that Black Widow will be featuring in her own solo film as well. (https://www.express.co.uk/entertainment/films/921256/Avengers-Infinity-War-Black-Widow-movie-Scarlett-Johansson-Captain-America-Chris-Evans) Sam L. Jackson signed up to be in more films and I think the Guardians we know aren’t supposed to leave the big screen until after Vol. 3, but I could be wrong.
Everywhere I go on the Internet, however, I run into people chanting the equivalent of, “Death to Captain America!” Some seem to be under the mistaken impression that it will add gravitas to the films “at last”; others, I am sure, want him dead for far more sinister reasons. Either way, I would prefer he stayed alive, even if he never appeared in another Marvel film in the future.
We authors certainly need to fill up the lack! It will take a while, though. Personally, I would like it if we could somehow preserve the pop culture heroes we have now for the future. That’s impossible at this point with certain stories, but I’m hoping there will be something we can salvage from Marvel and a few other properties, at least, so those artists who come after us can discover and enjoy them.
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RE: “Death to Captain America,” Ugh, that depresses me. And if they want ‘gravitas,’ what did they think ‘Civil War’ was? Besides which, it’s a superhero franchise and…gah.
But, yeah; I’d prefer they didn’t kill him off. What’s wrong with happily ever after anyway? Worked for Batman! (though I suppose that depends on your opinion of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’).
Though, to be fair, I would much prefer that Cap get a heroic death than to see him live to be ‘Luke Skywalkered.’
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It IS depressing – that’s why I don’t look up too many articles speculating about future MCU films anymore. It makes no sense to want Cap dead for ‘gravitas,’ given Civil War and a couple of the other movies we have seen. That’s why I suspect a few of those calling for Cap’s head aren’t the least bit concerned with storytelling, gravitas, Marvel, or the film-going audience (us). They want him dead to demoralize us.
The ending for The Dark Knight Rises was a happy surprise for me; I don’t like those films. They’re too dark for my taste, so it was nice to see a superhero get his happily ever after. Considering how hard Batman and Catwoman have had it, that was a good note on which to end the movie.
As for Cap being ‘Luke Skywalkered’ – *shudders* – thank you so much for THAT pleasant image. 😛 Aside from an heroic death, if they fake Cap’s demise so he can ride off into the sunset with Sharon Carter, I will be happy. But if he remains head of the Avengers, I will be VERY happy, even if he never appears in another MCU movie. Whichever one of these three endings occurs, I fear that Avengers 4 will probably be the last major MCU film worth watching. The comics today are a mess and I can practically hear certain parties planning to spread that mayhem into the films. If they do that, I’m not watching any more Marvel movies.
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I sadly suspect your fears are all too justified: I can already see cracks beginning in form in places. We’ll have to wait and see: if nothing else we got ten good years worth of films out of them.
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Agreed; as long as Avengers 4 is good, I am happy. 🙂 It’s been ten great, inspiring years, and I am thankful for them, whatever may come in the future.