Written by Mark Halyday
The 18th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to drop and it looks amazing. Chadwick Boseman stars as King T’Challa of Wakanda, the Black Panther, after his successful debut in Captain America: Civil War.
Here what you need to know before you sit down in the cinema.
He was nearly Coal Tiger
The name Black Panther was inspired by a literal black panther that helped the hero in a magazine of short stories. However, while Stan Lee’s longtime illustrator, Jack Kirby, was working on concept art, he used the name Coal Tiger and it nearly stuck. When the character debuted in Fantastic Four he was dubbed Black Leopard. By his first solo outing, Jungle Action #5, T’Challa was the Black Panther.
The movie has always been on the cards
In 2005, the original guard of Kevin Feige, Jon Favreau and Edgar Wright held a little panel at San Diego Comic-Con to announce a few new projects, including an Iron Man origin story that featured the Mandarin, and an Ant-Man film slated for 2009. As everyone knows, neither of things came to pass exactly as described.
One of the other projects announced as ‘in development’ was Black Panther. Wesley Snipes – the man behind New Line Cinema’s 1998 Blade – tried as early as 1992 to get something off the ground. It wasn’t till 2011 a scriptwriter was hired and 2014 that Marvel announced it was part of Phase Three.
T’Challa is a team player
As a hugely successful comic book character, the King of Wakanda has bounced from supergroup to supergroup, including The Avengers, Defenders, Illuminati and even briefly the Fantastic Four. During his marriage to Storm he even was an honorary member of the X-Men. Everyone likes this guy!
The right direction
Director Ryan Coogler is the right man for the job. After success with indie Fruitvale Station and Oscar nominated Creed, he joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the condition he could hire his previous cinematographer, production designer and composer. He’s described it as The Godfather meets James Bond with a little bit of Blade Runner.
BP’s continuity runs deep
Marvel knows that a basic origin story doesn’t excite people like it used to – as such, two of Black Panther’s biggest origin story plot points can be found in other MCU movies.
T’Challa and his father T’Chaka appear in Captain America: Civil War alongside Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, when the villainous Zemo bombs the United Nations. T’Chaka passes away and T’Challa spends the rest of the film avenging his fallen king, leaving Black Panther to explore other themes. Enemy of Wakanda Ulysses Klaue appeared as early as Avengers: Age Of Ultron, selling vibranium to the title villain and losing his arm in the process.
It sets the stage for Avengers: Infinity War
The big sweeping group shot at the end of the Avengers: Infinity War trailer is set on the fields of Wakanda. Fan theories suggest this will be a climatic battle with as many as forty heroes against the forces of Thanos.
No matter which way you slice it, Wakanda will play a vital role in one of the most anticipated films of all time. Any Easter egg or subtle clue can give a hint to the behemoth extravaganza arriving in April. And that’s not even mentioning the sixth Infinity Stone probably resides within the powerful nation.
It makes history
In 1966, Marvel placed a black superhero at the centre of a story for the first time in mainstream comics. 62 years later, the studio is doing the same thing with a feature film set in their widely successful intricate film universe.
Some of the best talent in Hollywood have assembled to deliver something to write home about. It’s a cool action movie with explosions and romance and lots of shifting allegiances, but it also marks a major moment in the industry.
Black Panther hits cinemas February 13