Black Panther made history when it became the first comic book film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. As we inch closer to Oscar Sunday, Marvel head Kevin Feige sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss the film’s impact and Erik Killmonger’s iconic final piece of dialogue.
Feige did not skirt around the film’s impact in the Black community, a demographic that has been grossly underserved since Hollywood’s conception. Feige foresaw the film’s influence when he read a rough draft of the script that contained Erik Killmonger’s death scene, in which the character said, “Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped ships, ’cause they knew death was better than bondage,” before his eventual demise.
“It was one of the best lines we ever read,” Feige said. “We said, ‘There are going to be a lot of revisions, but don’t touch that line.’ And Ryan said, ‘That’s the line I thought you’d tell me to cut.’ And we said, ‘On the contrary, keep it and build more of the movie around it.'”
Although the script went through the usual Hollywood conveyer belt of alterations, Feige’s insistence on keeping Killmonger’s dying words proved fruitful, sent shockwaves across theaters when audiences viewed the film.
ABC will air the 91st Academy Awards next Sunday. Tune in to see if Black Panther takes home Best Picture.