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Sunday March 3rd 2024

Black Panther | 2018

Black Panther filming location:High Museum of Art, Peachtree Street, Atlanta
Black Panther location: robbery from the 'Museum of Great Britain': High Museum of Art, Peachtree Street, Atlanta | Photograph: Wikimedia / Chris Yunker

A stonking hit from the unstoppable Marvel empire and, like so many of the others recently, based at Pinewood Atlanta Studios, Atlanta, Georgia, where the extravagantly imaginative sets were built.

As the story is set mainly in the fictitious African nation of Wakanda, there’s necessarily a lot of CGI involved in the backdrops. The flyover shots of the breathtaking landscapes were filmed above South Africa, Zambia and southwest Uganda at the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

Those lush jungles seen from the air are Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Kanungu District, southwest Uganda, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name says it all really – it’s accessible only on foot, though if you're adventurous, there is the Buhoma Lodge, a day’s drive from Entebbe or Kampala. There are also twice daily scheduled  light-aircraft flights landing at the nearby Kihihi airstrip, approximately two hours’ drive from Buhoma.

The park's great attraction is a rare chance to view endangered mountain gorillas in their natural surroundings. To protect the environment, visitor numbers are strictly controlled.

In the same area is Rwenzori Mountains National Park, which provided the aerial views of Wakanda's mountains.

But that’s all there is of the real Africa – most of the rest is around Atlanta.

The prologue, which turns out to be so significant later on, is set in “1992, Oakland, California”. The tower block where Prince N'Jobu gets a visit from "two Grace Jones lookin' chicks" is the Wheat Street Towers, 375 Auburn Avenue NE in the historic African-American neighbourhood of Sweet Auburn, east of Downtown Atlanta. The church-funded senior high-rise housing is currently getting a major refurb – so I'm sure the location fee came in handy.

In the present day, an artefact made of the precious vibranium is stolen by Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) and Erik Stevens/Killmonger (Michael B Jordan) from the ‘Museum of Great Britain’ in London. No, I’ve never heard of it either. It certainly doesn’t look the the grand classical British Museum in Bloomsbury.

That’s because the modern white exterior is that of the High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree Street NE, in the Ansley Park area, north of downtown Atlanta. Designed by Richard Meier in 1983, the gallery houses over 11,000 pieces of art. Its towering atrium soars to four interior levels, with galleries moving from 18th and 19th-century collections near the ground floor to cutting edge contemporary art on the upper levels – though in reality, precious little from Wakanda.

Veteran location spotters will recognise this as the facility in which Hannibal Lecktor (Brian Cox) was incarcerated in Michael Mann’s Manhunter. More recently, the museum appeared as the HQ of Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and the Erudite in the second Divergent movie, Insurgent.

In Wakanda, the coronation of the new king T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), accompanied by a ritual challenge, is being held at the top of a vast waterfall complex.

Black Panther filming location: Iguacu Falls, Brazil-Argentina
Black Panther location: the coronation and challenge above the waterfall: Iguacu Falls, Brazil-Argentina | Photograph: iStockphoto / cotesebastien

The spectacular cascades of water are the (significantly CGI enhanced) Iguaçu Falls (Iguazu Falls), at the junction of the Parana and the Iguaçu River on the border of Brazil and Argentina, close to Paraguay.

You might be familiar with the falls from Roland Joffé's 1986 The Mission (remember the crucified priest plunging into the cataract?) and in Michael Mann’s Miami Vice and Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.

The falls can be reached from towns either side of the river, from Puerto Iguazú in Argentina, and from Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil. They’re also accessible from Ciudad del Este in Paraguay.

The nearest international airports are Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport (Argentina) or Foz do Iguaçu International Airport (Brazil).

When T'Challa hears that the Wakandan vibranium is to be sold to an American buyer, he heads off to South Korea to intercept the hated Klaue. His destination is Busan, the country's second most-populous city after Seoul, down on the southeastern coast.

The deal is going down in a secret location in the Jagalchi Market – Korea’s largest and most famous seafood market.

Although there's extensive filming in Busan, the stretch of market with the entrance to the casino is a lane of the Metropolitan Art and Business District complex at 675 Metropolitan Parkway SW, Atlanta, unrecognisable under the elaborate set-dressing.

Black Panther filming location: Gwangan Diamond Bridge, Busan, South Korea
Black Panther location: the chase after Klaue: Gwangan Diamond Bridge, Busan, South Korea | Photograph: Shutterstock / CJ Nattana

Once Klaue escapes, the chase to capture him roars through the real streets of Busan, and across Gwangan Diamond Bridge. The city's hills even allow Bay Area native Ryan Coogler to include a brief homage to Bullitt as the cars bounce down the steep inclines.

When Klaue is finally apprehended, he's taken to a secret CIA site for interrogation. The inconspicuous entrance is that of Friedman’s Shoes, 223 Mitchell Street SW, Downtown Atlanta. Behind the Korean street signs and advertisements, across the street you can see the arches of the old Bank of America Building, 222 Mitchell Street SW – which is confusingly where the interior of this facility was filmed.

Klaue is sprung from custody, but his freedom is brief as Killmonger reveals his true plan. The airfield where the no-longer-needed Klaue is offed is Atlanta Air Salvage, a recovery and storage specialist at 1146 Uniform Road, Griffin, about 30 miles south of Atlanta.

Killmonger returns to Wakanda, with Klaue's body as an introductory gift, and mounts his challenge to T'Challa's rule.

When Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), Shuri (Letitia Wright) and T'Challa's mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) seek assistance from the mountain dwelling Jabari tribe, the rocky terrain is supplied by the Vulcan Materials Quarry, 3925 North Henry Boulevard in Stockbridge, about 15 miles southeast of Atlanta.

The battle between the rival forces was filmed at Bouckaert Farms, 9445 Browns Lake Road, Fairburn, about 20 miles west of Atlanta.

The epilogue sees T'Challa finally announce the opening up of Wakanda's resources for the benefit of all at the 'United Nations' in 'Vienna'.

The 'UN' exterior – seen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier – was found in Berlin but its interior is now the Council Chamber of Atlanta's City Hall, 55 Trinity Avenue SW, Atlanta.