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Stunts & Training
Stunt coordinators Andy Gill and Jonathan Eusebio were tasked with creating inventive multi-layered action to dovetail with Coogler's storytelling. No strangers to Marvel Studios' unparalleled action, the pair are known to their peers and audiences alike for their impressive, practically executed fight and stunt choreography.

As with most Marvel Studios' productions, the actors needed to possess a minimum level of strength and fitness, which may be supplemented by weapons, martial arts or other specialized training, to meet the rigors of filming an action-adventure film.

One of the more unexpected surprises for Gill was how invested the cast was in their approach to preparing for the stunt work and their willingness and ability to fully perform everything that he and Eusebio threw at them. "For Black Panther, we were so blessed to have actors that really wanted to do the stunts and this is not an easy picture to do," comments Gill. "It has a lot of fight scenes. Chadwick, Michael, Lupita, Danai, Letitia, Florence and the rest of our Dora team all put in 200%. We rehearsed them and worked them out for almost three months before filming began."

As part of the requisite fitness boot camp, the stunt coordinators established a routine and then would begin layering in difficulty on every level. The same applied to weapons training, which would continue through filming to maintain an elevated level of play.

The goal for Gill and Eusebio was to ensure that they were able to satisfy Coogler's vision, if not surpass it. Spending hundreds of hours with the cast allowed them to see firsthand what each of them was capable of and make sure their abilities were tailored to the fight action.

"Pretty much with all the cast, when you see them on camera, they're doing the bulk of the fight work," states Eusebio. "This allows us to design great action because the actors can stay in the shot longer and we're not relying on a stunt double or camera tricks or anything. We can raise the bar a little bit more."

Boseman, whose skill set includes a comprehensive martial arts background and fitness level showcased in the memorable fight sequence in "Civil War," knew what he was in for but Nyong'o, Gurira, Wright and the others started from scratch.

For Boseman, it is all about keeping the moves authentic, learning the choreography and fine-tuning it to make it his own. He offers, "It's obviously intense and lot of work and sweat. But it's been cool collaborating with those guys about the style of movement. To me, that's one of the most fun things. It's like dancing. Part of what I wanted to make sure is that there is some legitimate African movement and African martial arts present to tell the story of Wakanda as a military nation as well. And they've been completely open to all of that stuff. Sometimes it felt like we training for a real fight. So that was fun."

Jordan, who showcased his own physical chops with the rigorous boxing role in "Creed," found himself training differently but just as intensely for the role of Killmonger. Months of weapons training and learning and perfecting multiple fighting styles began almost immediately. Speaking about the training, Jordan says, "The physicality of it was something I was really looking forward to. 'Creed' was the first project in which I really had to transform myself physically into something else. It took a year and a half of boxing training to really sell the fact that I was a real boxer. In this film, to be able to transform into a special ops-type killer was a different kind of training. All the knife training, gun training and combat stuff was intense but a lot of fun."

Another hallmark of the Marvel Comic oeuvre that was incorporated into the film adaptation is the Dora Milaje, the cadre of strong fierce women who serve as the personal security force to the King and royal family. These tall, statuesque bald-headed warrior women who move as one command attention wherever they go are a powerful part of the original comic series and play a prominent role in the theatrical version.

Led by Danai Gurira's Okoye, the security force is comprised of eight actresses who are from all over the world. The filmmakers and the stunt team met with hundreds of women, including film and television stunt players, track and field athletes, dancers and MMA fighters to fill the ranks of the squad.

Once cast, the women trained together daily and easily fell into step as the kick-ass squad they brought to life on screen. The hours of weapons training, intense strength and fitness regimens and rehearsing together created camaraderie. "We all had to shave our heads," states Gurira, "so, of course, instantly it's a sisterhood. It's been really cool to find a beautiful grace in the Dora and also a ferocity."

Along with Clayton Barber, fight team coordinator, Eusebio designed the fight elements and oversaw the training for the cast in advance of learning the intricate choreography. The root would be an African fighting style but ultimately different influences would come into play, like Brazilian capoeira.

For the synchronized yet fluid fighting moves of the Dora Milaje, Eusebio taught Gurira and the team a bank of basic moves with their staffs and gradually added on more complex techniques until they could cycle through multiple moves on command.

Says Gurira of the experience, "It was really beautiful the way the Dora Milaje have a way of fighting that was supposed to be inspired a little bit by moving as one, almost sometimes in a way that is almost dancerlike. There were a lot of very interesting formations that we created for when the Dora work together to take down somebody.

Elaborating, she adds, "There are very specific things. When my character makes a command, she does something with her staff. We use staffs, which are like basically very, very sophisticated spears made out of our special, vibranium. We're able to do a lot with them. You look at the staff and think it is just a stick. No, it's not just a stick, which you'll learn shortly if you try and mess with it. We were able to find a beautiful grace in these women and also a ferocity, and I think that's a really great combination."

Nyong'o, too, joined her fellow cast in training for her role of the undercover operative who often works alone and has to fend for herself no matter the circumstance. For Nyong'o, preparing for this role was wholly different than anything she's ever done before for a film role, and she loved every minute of it.

Says Nyong'o, "The stunt training was intense, to say the least. But as I got my ass kicked, I felt more connected to Nakia's warrior spirit. She is a woman who has traveled the world, and so her fighting style is informed by her experiences in the world. Ryan described her style as 'street,' which is in contrast to the Dora Milaje who have a way more graceful, more traditional style of fighting. She is a 'by any means necessary' kind of gal! So there was judo, jiu-jitsu, Filipino martial arts, muay Thai and a bit of capoeira thrown in there."

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