Oakland references loom large in 'Black Panther'

Director and Oakland native Ryan Coogler shows a deep love for the Bay Area (past and present) in his smash hit superhero film "Black Panther."|

While most of Marvel's box-office breaking "Black Panther" takes place in Wakanda and South Korea, we get to see Oakland, California, in 1992 and in the present day. The Bay Area city, which serves as some Wakandans' American home base, is a fitting choice for the film.

While Harlem is the American city used in the comics, it was a personal choice for writer-director Ryan Coogler to use Oakland, his home town, as the connection instead. The first scene that Coogler wrote was the opening scene that takes place there in the early 1990s, he told I09. "Writing it was a test of what this movie could be."

"The interesting part about being black is until you open up your mouth, people don't know where you're from," Coogler told the outlet. "I thought it would be cool if you start on the scene in Oakland. You have these two black dudes, they talk and (you go) 'Oh, it's two black dudes from Oakland.' And then at some point the guy switches and starts talking with the African accent. 'Oh s-, wait, this dude's from Africa?' You realize, 'Oh yeah, I can't tell the difference. He (looks like) the same people you know.'"

Co-writer Robert Joe Cole added that starting in Oakland "was never a question. That was Ryan. That's his heart. That was where that was going to be."

Oakland is also the birthplace of the Black Panther organization, which began there in the 1960s before it became a nationwide phenomenon. One of their most popular community programs - providing free breakfast to children - started in the California city in 1968.

In "Revolutionary Suicide," Black Panther co-founder Huey Newton explained the origin of the party name: He had read about how people in a Mississippi county, who had armed themselves "against establishment violence," adopted the black panther as a symbol for their political group. He then suggested to fellow founder Bobby Seale that they do the same. "The panther is a fierce animal, but he will not attack until he is backed into a corner; then he will strike out," Newton wrote.

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