In a few weeks “Black Panther” will hit theaters, becoming the latest film for The Marvel Cinematic Universe staring Chadwick Boseman as the famous superhero. With “Captain America: Civil War,” this will be the second film to feature the character. Because of the hype surrounding the movie, it is only fitting to give an overview of the character of Black Panther.
Black Panther, real name T’Challa, is the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. He was first introduced in a guest appearance of The Fantastic Four. Originally, he attacked the team to test their strength and then revealed himself to be a good guy — there’re good friends now. Black Panther was created by comic book legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
In 1966, he played an important part in superhero history because he was the first African American superhero to appear in a mainstream comic book. This paved the way for more African American superheroes to come — Luke Cage, Black Lightning or Cyborg to name a few.
As far as powers go, Black Panther is what video game fans would refer to as ‘overpowered.’ In the comics, his body is enhanced with super-strength, healing, tracking, reflexes, etc. His also a skilled tactician, leader and has access to advanced technology: his suit alone has more powers than I keep track of. To be honest, this is the short list, I could’ve listed much more. All in all, he’s one of the toughest superheroes to fight in Marvel comics.
The story behind the role of the Black Panther is even more interesting. Spanning back for thousands of years, every king of Wakanda has been a Black Panther. It is a sacred, ceremonial title and it’s not inherited: every heir to the throne must pass several trials and prove themselves as a warrior to be the next Black Panther. According to Comicstorian, the Black Panthers have defeated many invaders and even other superheroes.
Wakanda itself is a unique place. As a remote nation, it’s cutoff from the rest of the world. But at the same time, it has some of the most advanced technology to date. One of the reasons behind Wakanda’s advancements is that it’s home to the world’s only supply of Vibranium: a fictional and nearly indestructible metal — It’s what Captain America’s shield is made of.
Black Panther has several allies in the Marvel Universe. Besides the Fantastic Four, he has visited America many times and associated himself with other superhero groups such as the Avengers. On occasion, while Daredevil was away, Black Panther watched over Hell’s Kitchen for him. He’s also no stranger to the X-Men either: he was once married to Storm, making her his Queen — but their marriage isn’t working out at the moment.
It should be noted that Black Panther’s number one obligation is to his country and his people. So, if he has to choose between helping the interests of Wakanda or helping the Avengers, you know which side he’ll be on.
And what would a hero be without his villains? Uylessis Klaw is one of Black Panther’s main rivals. Klaw is always trying to exploit Wakanda’s Vibranium. He killed Black Panther’s father, King T’Chaka, and Black Panther cut off his hand (Like Batman, every superhero needs a dead parent). As the new King, T’Challa has many other enemies, including Eric Killmonger, who wants to steal the throne for himself. Both Killmonger and Klaw will be featured in the film.
Speaking of Batman, some have described Black Panther as Marvel’s version of the character. The two do have some in common: both are masters of stealth, known for scaring the living life out of their enemies and both are extremely rich. These similarities aren’t surprising since Marvel Comics has admitted to “boring” characters from DC Comics in the past. But unlike the Dark Knight, killing is not off-limits for Black Panther.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning where the inspiration for his name came from. Black Panther actually debuted before the Black Panther Party ever did. While both first appeared in 1966, according Watchmojo, the Black Panther party was founded in October and Black Panther comic book appearance was in July. In reality, his name was inspired by other comic book characters and possibly the Black Panther Tank Battalion, an all African American unit that fought in WWII.
Despite having no connection with the Black Panther Party, Marvel felt uncomfortable about his name. According to Variantcomics, his name was change for to Black Leopard, but was later changed back because neither the Marvel staff nor the readers cared for the change.
Black Panther is a great character and I hope his movie is too. Here’s to another good Marvel film.