Forest Whitaker Shares Details About 'Socially Conscious' 'Black Panther' Film

"It’s a unique piece," Whitaker says. "It’s a multicultural piece."

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As Black Panther inches closer to its highly-anticipated February 16 premiere date, the film's actors are starting to share bits of information about the Marvel production. Actor Forest Whitaker, who plays Zuri, hinted at the movie's socially conscious direction and tone this weekend.

"It’s a unique piece. It’s a multicultural piece. I think people are waiting to find something new to live in," Whitaker told Variety during an interview at the Sundance Film Festival. "This superhero from Africa who is in this society and trying to fix the world is something that people haven't been seen before." He added, "I think Ryan [Coogler] is a great director, so there’s always going to be some social consciousness inside of it. And at the same time, the action is something we haven’t seen before."

Echoing director Ryan Coogler's recent statement that Marvel wanted him to make "their version of James Bond," Whitaker says the film will take viewers into outer space and "into the James Bond space."

"We’re going to see not only tribal things, but things that take us into outer space, things that take us into the James Bond space," he explains. "It’s a really unique amalgamation of different things that come together in an exciting way."

Whitaker says that a screening of the film even brought some cast members to tears.

"The first time we saw it, just as a cast, after it, everybody leapt up to their feet," he notes. "Literally some were in tears. They were so excited about what was actually occurring. I think people have that same excitement around the movie. I’m expecting something great, and something great for Ryan."

Whitaker's comments follow co-star Michael B Jordan's appearance on ESPN late last week, where he expressed gratitude for being involved in a culturally diverse cast that will hopefully open up "opportunities for the next generation coming up." If Black Panther performs as well at the box office as everyone anticipates it will, Jordan hopes "other studios will take a chance at a more diverse, eclectic cast like we have."

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