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*“Black Panther director Ryan Coogler says that once Marvel hired him to direct the hotly anticipated film, he booked a trip to visit Africa in hopes of enriching himself with the culture.

Speaking to Empire magazine, Coogler and executive producer Nate Moore explained why the film’s version of the fictional nation Wakanda needed to be grounded in real-world African roots.

“I make that distinction because it’s something that we found very important in making the film—that T’Challa and Wakanda felt very African. And so we, with Ryan especially leading the charge, were going the extra mile to get all the details of what that would mean in the film.”

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Coogler spent weeks traveling through South Africa to gain a better sense of the people he was telling a story about.

“None of my family ever had the opportunity to go [to Africa]. So it was almost like a mythical place to us—to a lot us, as African Americans. And that was a very big deal for me to be able to tell this story. I frankly wasn’t qualified to do it just because I look like this.”

Coogler believes he has a responsibility to depict Wakandans thoughtfully and respectfully, as African characters and culture are often grossly misrepresented.

“Or represented in a way that’s narrow, or thin, or as a plot device. They’re represented in a way that’s damaging and hurtful. You’re dealing with all that, so I wanted to make sure I got out there and spent some time.”

Black Panther” arrives in theaters Feb. 16.

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