As we all collectively wait with bated breath for Wakanda Forever, which is scheduled for November this year, now is the perfect time to take a look at a classic rendition of T’Challa.
Black Panther made his first Marvel Cinematic Universe appearance back in 2018, played by the phenomenally talented and beloved Chadwick Boseman. The Oscar-nominated film’s overwhelmingly positive reviews demonstrate the importance of the Wakandan hero to Marvel fans. Many believe that the 2018 film is T’Challa’s first on-screen appearance, but 2010’s Black Panther animated series was actually the fantastic on-screen entrance of Wakanda’s King.
American Black Entertainment Channel (BET) signed a deal with Marvel Studios back in 2008 to bring T’Challa to life in a six-episode series. Beninese-American Djimon Hounsou voiced T’Challa, later returning to Marvel to play Korath the Pursuer in Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel.
The series itself explores the events of John Romita Jr.’s 2010 comic Who is the Black Panther?. Similar to the 2018 movie, its plot revolves around T’Challa ascending to the throne after his father’s untimely death. He is attempting to hunt down the man who murdered his father while also dealing with his royal court. Klaw, who murdered T’Challa’s father, attempts to take over Wakanda, assembling his forces unbeknownst to the new King.
In 2012, before the 2018 film was announced, Djimon Hounsou expressed interest in reprising his role as Black Panther in an MTV interview. “Oh man. It would be an honour…it definitely is a great story and Black Panther would be quite amazing. But it needs to be done right,” he said.
“We see superheroes left and right and this is a superhero that was also created in the likeness of African Americans and Africans. I think there’s a huge audience out there who can’t wait to see Black Panther.”
Seemingly targeted at adults, 2010’s Black Panther refused to shy away from violence and serious political themes. Alongside the fantastic visuals and voice cast, it honed in on themes of colonisation and the immense damage that comes to native culture with it. Storm, Princess Shuri, and Captain America also made appearances throughout the series. Storm’s presence explores the romantic relationship she has with T’Challa in some universes, one of the first times it was ever seen outside of comics.
After 2018’s Black Panther was released, Hounsou spoke with Screen Rant about just how revolutionary the character is for minorities: “It was unbelievable to see African kids really driven to go see a film for the first time. It’s rare. Do you see what I mean? And that really made that film, and made the minority – the people that we see less on screen as heroes – all of a sudden have a place to have an identity on screen. That was quite powerful. And I think it revolutionised all stories of that nature.”
While Hounsou never played Black Panther after the series ended, he expressed a clear connection to the character in a 2016 interview: “There are things that you hope to get…[but] it was not something that was mine that I’m losing. Fair enough that he got the role and I hope he does a great job with it.”
Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal of Black Panther will always be an iconic moment for all superhero fans. Fans are undoubtedly excited to see what happens next in MCU’s anticipated Wakanda Forever. But if you’re looking for more to the story behind Wakanda and its king in the meantime, 2010’s animated Black Panther is an unforgettable hidden gem.