Eight cast members of “Black Panther” posed in elegant gray and black attire for the March issue of Essence magazine. Essence posted the issue’s three alternate covers on its social media pages yesterday (February 13).

The cover images feature the women and men of Wakanda in separate photos. One includes Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett and Danai Gurira; a second stars Daniel Kaluuya, Chadwick Boseman, Forest Whitaker and Michael B. Jordan. Boseman, who plays the movie’s titular superhero, gets his own solo cover. See all three below: 

Essence posted a short article in which the stars and director Ryan Coogler discussed the movie’s themes and depiction of Black characters. Coogler explained the exploration of anti-colonialist identity that grounds the movie’s plot and setting, which reportedly departed from “Marvel’s initial idea of a ‘James Bond’-esque geopolitical thriller.”

“I had really been studying the effects of colonization and the African diaspora, specifically as it relates to African Americans and Africans, and what I hit on was this concept of what it means to be African,” Coogler said. “I pitched that to the studio as a main theme of exploration, and they were totally interested, which is, to their credit, really cool.”

Gurira, who is Zimbabwean-American, noted that the movie tries to answer the question: “What would the African world have been without that [colonial] imposition?”

Essence also notes that the release of the cover images coincided with a Marvel-produced showcase at New York Fashion Week. “Welcome to Wakanda” exclusively featured Black models wearing original pieces inspired by the film.

Read the full cover story when the March issue hits newsstands on February 23.