Of the new characters set to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the next five years, one of the biggest fan-favorites has to be T’Challa, aka the Black Panther. The Black Panther is different from most heroes due to the fact that he runs his own country. Yes, T’Challa is the leader of the fictional African country known as Wakanda, a technologically advanced powerhouse that is light years ahead of the rest of the world in almost every respect. The Black Panther is set to star in his own movie in November of 2017, will have a prominent role in Captain America: Civil War in 2016, and the role has already been cast with Chadwick Boseman of Get On Up and 42 fame bringing him to life. With such a high-profile character finally getting the big screen treatment, now seems like a good time for an introduction to one of Marvel Studios’ newest heroes. Check out everything you need to know about the Black Panther after the jump.
As is the case with many other heroes in the Marvel Universe, the Black Panther is a comparable character to someone from DC’s staple of superheroes. Black Panther is essentially Marvel’s version of Batman. Granted the Black Panther isn’t exactly defending the streets of Gotham City and he isn’t placed into the role of hero to avenge the death of his parents, but rather, he has the intelligence, appearance, attitude, and methods that can be closely tied to the Dark Knight more than any other hero Marvel has to offer. He also sticks mainly to the shadows and will be a part of the Avengers only when they have absolute need of him, much like a mirror to Batman’s relationship with the Justice League.
Originally created in July 1966 by comic book legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, T’Challa hit the scene in the pages of Fantastic Four. Like many Marvel characters currently hitting the silver screen these days, he began as simply a Fantastic Four anti-hero, but ended up belonging to the Marvel Universe at large as he started to appear in other series and became a full-fledged member of the Avengers. The reason why he puts on a costume and fights crime ties into the history of his people and his ancestors. T’Challa comes from a long line of “Black Panthers”, with each leader of Wakanda bearing the mask and dedicating themselves to protecting their homeland. The reason why he originally fought the Fantastic Four was because he saw defeating them as a test needed to prove himself worthy of his status as king of his country.
T’Challa’s name actually predates the creation of the Black Panther organization that was made that same year of 1966, with the two being completely unrelated to one another. He will also be the first black character to have his own film under the Marvel Studios banner, bringing the kind of diversity the MCU has sorely needed for awhile now.
The Nitty Gritty
The relationship that T’Challa has with Wakanda is really the main selling point of a Black Panther film, and I’m sure this will be played upon heavily in his Marvel Studios appearances from here on out. Wakanda is so different from anything we’ve seen so far in the Marvel Universe as it’s a country that appears to be hundreds of years in the future. It’s almost closer to Asgard than it is to New York City or Los Angeles. Isolated from the rest of the world in the heart of Africa, there’s a reason why it has yet to be mentioned in the Marvel films: the country is entirely self sufficient and does not play well with the rest of the world. This is something T’Challa always struggled with in the comics, trying to determine the best methods to incorporate Wakanda into the balance of modern day society. This is also helped by the fictional material that marks Wakanda’s most popular export: Vibranium. A metal that is nearly indestructible, Vibranium was the main component used for the creation of Captain America’s shield and is Wakanda’s main cause of concern when it comes to outside antagonists.
One such villain is the Black Panther’s major foe, Klaw. Every Batman has his Joker and every Superman has his Lex Luthor. For the Black Panther, there’s Ulysses Klaw. With a name like that, was he really ever not going to be a supervillain? Klaw was originally an assassin, hired to kill T’Challa at a World Summit, but having failed to do so, he became obsessed with eliminating Black Panther and harvesting the vibranium that Wakanda had to offer. Having lost his hand, Klaw slapped a sonic device to it, only to eventually jump into a “sound chamber” and become a being of living sound, plaguing the Black Panther and other heroes alike. There have been rumors that Klaw will be making an appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron, played by Andy Serkis who makes a brief appearance in the first trailer for the much anticipated sequel. Considering the chin beard Serkis is sporting, which matches Klaw’s, it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
Black Panther On Film
This isn’t Marvel’s first attempt to bring the Black Panther to the big screen. In fact, Black Panther was originally set to be played by Wesley Snipes in 1993, who declared himself the star following the film Demolition Man. Between then and the present announcement of the Black Panther movie, there were rumblings here and there that a movie would be made, with directors like David Goyer of Blade: Trinity fame and John Singleton flirting with the idea of an adaptation. Ultimately, none of these projects came to fruition, which paved the way for T’Challa to now be introduced within the context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Black Panther even had his own short lived animated series on BET, which I can still remember to this day because of it having one of the catchiest animated series intros this side of X-Men.
It’s been a long time coming for this character, but it’s great to see that Marvel is pulling out the stops in terms of introducing him with the level of gravitas he so rightly deserves, as he is one of the premiere heroes Marvel has to offer. Their Black Panther film is scheduled to hit theaters on November 3, 2017.