When Marvel fans were first introduced to Everett Ross, played by Martin Freeman, he seemed like exactly the time of character Freeman gets to play. He’s a bit in over his head, surrounded by people who may or may not be crazy, and does the exasperated look very well. He is an ally of Black Panther’s in the comics but has never been that interesting of a character. Freeman recently spoke to Den of Geek about being introduced in Captain America: Civil War but getting to do something interesting in Black Panther while also confirming he’s signed on for multiple movies.
They introduced me in Civil War and said there would be a couple of other films, one of which was Black Panther. So that was always on the cards. And I knew I’d have more to do in Black Panther than I had to do in Civil War. That was very much just the kind of introduction to who Ross was.
Ross, in the comics, isn’t a very dynamic or interesting character. He’s comic relief in that he’s always the straight man in a situation. If he’s not that then he’s overly anxious or sweaty. These weren’t tropes Freeman was particularly keen to play.
I, to be honest, wasn’t massively keen to play that. I certainly wasn’t massively keen to play that in the context of Black Panther. Just because I think the trope of a nervous white guy, cool black guy, we’ve seen it a million times before breakfast. So yeah, I wasn’t mostly keen. Fortunately, Ryan (Coogler, director) and Nate Moore (producer) weren’t massively keen either on that. So we talked a lot about what he might be. It’s not like I shaped Ross into what he ended up being. I think, you know, that was he was going to be. But I definitely threw my 10 cents in as far as who he might be.
When it came to developing Ross as character and making him at least a little less of a cliche Freeman says that director Ryan Coogler also wanted to avoid that trope and that it was a collaborative process.
We talked a lot around the subject. We talked a lot of politics and we talked American and British politics, a bit of history, and I suppose that probably informed it in some way. Because if the point of directors and writers meeting actors is to get a flavor of who they are and get jumping off points for where you might take the character, that might have informed this as well. But with absolutely all the respect in the world for the source material, and what totally worked for that world, I don’t think it would have really worked for this film to be honest.
Ross could easily be the new character that pops in and out of movies as the universe goes on. We lost Phil Coulson and the movies seem keen to never, ever acknowledge that he’s still alive. SHIELD doesn’t exist so there’s no reason for Nick Fury to show up but the CIA isn’t going anywhere. The Avengers could use an ally in the intelligence community and perhaps Ross is that character.
Summary: T’Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.
Black Panther, directed Ryan Coogler, stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Martin Freeman. It’s out now.