In a cinematic universe inundated with super heroes, what makes Black Panther stand out? It has great action, a strong black lead with a strong supporting cast and its cultural impact has been significant.

All this, however, would not have been possible if there had not been a great screenplay first. In this article, we will analyze the Black Panther script and discuss its themes, the protagonist and the antagonist.

This article is written in honor of the late Chadwick Boseman. Peace and comfort to your family. Wakanda forever!

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Black Panther Script Teardown - Ryan Coogler Headshot
Black Panther Script Teardown - Joe Robert Cole Headshot

WHO WROTE black panther SCRIPT?

Written by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole

Black Panther characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Ryan Coogler is an American writer/director. He is a former graduate student from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He also directed his Black Panther script, as he did with Creed and Fruitvale Station.

Joe Robert Cole is an American writer/producer, known as the Black Panther writer. He also worked on American Crime Story.

STORY BREAKDOWN

STRUCTURE OF Black Panther SCREENPLAY

Here is the Black Panther summary:

Prologue

In the past, a young King T’Chaka confronts his brother, N’Jobu in America. He betrayed Wakanda and assisted Ulysses Klaue in stealing Vibranium. His friend, James, is actually Zuri, a Wakandan spy.

Exposition

After defeating human traffickers in the jungle, T'Challa returns home to Wakanda. In Great Britain, Killmonger helps Klaue steal an ancient Vibranium artifact from a museum.

Inciting Incident

T’Challa is stripped of his powers and must win in ritualistic combat if he is to inherit the throne. M’Baku, king of the Jabari tribe, challenges him; T’Challa defeats him. He visits the ancestral plane and sees his deceased father. T’Challa becomes king of Wakanda.

Plot Point One

T’Challa finds out that Klaue has stolen Vibranium. He and several others travel to South Korea to apprehend the villain. There, T’Challa runs into Ross, a CIA agent. After a battle and a car chase, Klaue is finally captured.

Rising Action

Klaue reveals to Ross that Wakanda is, in fact, a wealthy and powerful nation. Killmonger makes his grand appearance, freeing Klaue from imprisonment and injuring Ross in the process. T’Challa brings Ross to Wakanda for medical attention.

Midpoint

Killmonger kills Klaue and brings his corpse to Wakanda. When he arrives, he challenges T'Challa for the throne. Despite a close fight, Killmonger defeats T’Challa. Killmonger becomes king of Wakanda, while T’Challa is presumed dead.

Plot Point Two

Nakia, Shuri, Ramonda and Ross escape from the city. Killmonger visits the ancestral plane and sees his deceased father. When he awakens, Killmonger burns the remaining heart-shaped herbs. Killmonger declares war on the rest of the world.

Build Up

Nakia, Shuri, Ramonda and Ross find an unconscious T’Challa with M’Baku and the Jabari tribe. They plead for his help; he agrees. T’Challa takes the last heart-shaped herb and visits the ancestral plane a second time. He confronts his father and vows to do better.

Climax

A massive civil war takes place between T’Challa, Killmonger and their respective tribes. The heroes narrowly prevent the escape of several ships carrying Wakandan weapons. T’Challa and Killmonger fight to the death. As Killmonger takes his last breath, he watches the sunset.

Finale

T’Challa buys and rebuilds the building where his uncle died. It becomes an outreach center for local kids. Later on, at the UN, T’Challa announces that Wakanda will begin a cultural and technological exchange with the rest of the world.

Black Panther Themes

Black Panther's central theme

While not perfect, the Black Panther story does many things well. Chief among them is its focus on its central theme: isolation versus interaction. This theme is established early on, in a flirtatious argument between two characters.

We added the Black Panther script to the StudioBinder screenwriting software so we could examine this scene.

T’Challa and Nakia Debate  •  Read Full Scene

On the one hand, you have T’Challa, who believes the best way to protect Wakanda is to remain hidden. This also prevents their weapons and technology (vibranium) from falling into the wrong hands. Then there is Nakia, who believes that as a wealthy and powerful nation, it is their responsibility to help the less fortunate.

T’Challa finds himself struggling with this debate throughout Black Panther’s plot. Some of Black Panther’s characters, like T’Chaka and Okoye, pull T’Challa in one direction, while the villain, Killmonger, pulls him the other way. Eventually, T'Challa has to come to terms with Wakanda’s dark past and reevaluate his beliefs in the process.

There are other important themes in the Black Panther script. This video goes in depth on the symbolism of the story.

Black Panther Symbolism

A character’s motivation is driven by the themes of the story. Black Panther’s characters have plenty of motivation.

Black Panther Protagonist

Black Panther has a conflicted hero

Part of what makes T’Challa such a great hero is his growth as a character. As a man of tradition, he is steadfast in holding to his father’s beliefs. Not even his ex-girlfriend, Nakia, can make him waiver. However, when he meets his cousin, Killmonger, he learns some harsh truths.

His father killed his uncle in cold blood and abandoned the young boy that would become the monster that is Killmonger.

T’Chaka was Wrong  •  Read Full Scene

T’Challa nearly died fighting Killmonger, which is symbolic of the death of his old beliefs. His confrontation with his father in the afterlife is the breaking point for T’Challa. He now realizes the error of the old ways. He must change if he is going to stop his cousin from inciting global war.

Black Panther-T’Challa Confronts his Father

This scene is the pinnacle moment of growth for T’Challa as a character. This is the type of moment all protagonists should have.

Black Panther Antagonist

Balck Panther has a compelling villain

Some villains are epitome of mystery and evil. Some, however, are more complex and sympathetic. Erik Killmonger is one such villain. His tragic backstory is the reason he hates Wakanda and the world. He was forced to grow up, alone, in a world full of injustice and racism. It was only natural for him to want revenge.

When he takes the heart-shaped herb and visits the afterlife, we get a glimpse of the emotionally scarred boy that lies within the villain.

N'Jobu's Apartment  •  Read Full Scene

The thing is, Killmonger isn't wrong. If T’Chaka had been wiser and more sympathetic, things might have turned out differently. Instead, Erik Killmonger was alienated by his homeland. Unfortunately, he chose the path violence and destruction, instead of peace and redemption.

This video provides a closer look at Killmonger as a character.

Black Panther Empathetic Villain

Killmonger is a standout antagonist in the MCU. Out of all of the Black Panther characters, he is one of the most sympathetic. He is cinematic proof that villains don’t have to be stereotypical bad guys.

Black Panther Quotes

Black Panther quotes have strength

It would not be a MCU movie if it didn’t have memorable and humorous quotes. While the Black Panther script has plenty of one-liners, it also has plot-relevant dialogue as well.

Throughout the entire story, there is no line more important than when T’Challa says, “I never yielded, and as you can see, I am not dead.”

T'Challa’s Heroic Return  •  Read Full Scene

As epic as this line is, it’s more than just a heroic moment. This line is the verbalization of T’Challa’s new resolve. As the protagonist, he has experienced great physical and emotional pain. He has come to terms with the fact that his father had made a terrible mistake in killing N'Jobu and abandoning his son.

T’Challa knows that he must take responsibility for Wakanda’s mistakes. He is finally ready to face his cousin and save the kingdom.

Black Panther  •  I’m Not Dead

All of Black Panther’s character’s have great lines. Here are a few of the best Black Panther quotes:

  • Wakanda forever!
  • Just bury me in the ocean, with my ancestors that jumped from the ships, ‘cause they knew death was better than bondage.
  • You get to decide what kind of king you are going to be.
  • In times of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers.
  • You were wrong! All of you were wrong! To turn your backs on the rest of the world.
  • You're a good man with a good heart. And it's hard for a good man to be King.
  • I'm kidding. We are vegetarians.

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Black Panther stands as one of the best movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, due in large part to its script. If you want to continue reading screenplays, we have similar titles like The Avengers, Avengers: Endgame, and The Dark Knight in our screenplay database. Browse and download PDFs for all of our scripts as you read, write and practice your craft to become the next great screenwriter.

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