The Origins of the Black Panther and his Future
Connected Cultures invited guest contributor Eric Stevens to delve into the history of the Black Panther character, placing him firmly in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and to report on his night with the stars at the European Premiere.
MCU Reveal - T’Challa, Captain America and Civil War
T’Challa’s character was revealed in Civil War (2015), seeking vengeance for his father’s death by a terrorist. His role in the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was limited since his focus here was mainly on his personal quest for revenge.
Civil War is the first look at T’Challa in any real detail as previous MCU movies have only given us a glimpse of him in short scenes. The movie showed his crime-fighting suit, some of his abilities and a glimpse into Wakanda in a post credit scene.
The post credit scenes in Civil War and Avengers Age of Ultron hinted that there was unfinished business between the African country Wakanda and the character Ulysees Claw, making his own first appearance in 2015.
In the short reveal in Civil War we learn that T’Challa works alone, is not hot headed at all and is slow to act. He deliberates each move as though he is an experienced chess player. He momentarily shows his superior intelligence in a snide remark about the Avengers using Vibranium (a rare metal native to Wakanda) to make a “frisbee” (referring to Captain America’s Shield) in all the time they’ve had it. We later see that his Black Panther suit has Vibranium woven into the fabric, rendering him bulletproof but still completely mobile. His physical ability outmatches Captain America’s in several instances.
Civil War. Captain America with his frisbee
As the King of Wakanda, T'Challa's net worth is significantly higher than that of Tony Stark, Iron Man and head of Stark Industries. but T'Challa isn't boastful about this and if anything it shows humility in his demeanour. Possessing the virtues of many Avengers combined leads to much excitement in his first solo movie.
The Role of The Black Panther
The Black Panther movie delves more into how the character came to be and his role as a super-hero. It’s a role passed down from one generation to the next and the Black Panther’s duty is to protect his country from intruders trying to locate them in order to acquire/steal Vibranium (Wakanda is one of the two places in the world where it can be sourced). T’Challa’s father, T’Chaka, was the Black Panther before him and T’Chaka’s father was the Black Panther before him and so on.
The presence of Vibranium also appears to be related to the source of the Black Panther’s power but no spoilers here.
T'Challa in his vibranium laced suit
Character Development - New Leadership, New Direction and Self Discovery
The Black Panther movie is all about new leadership and a change in how things should be done in the future, following the passing of T’Chaka. We see several tribes of Wakanda available to challenge for the throne. Each tribe has different abilities but all share in the technological advances that Vibranium has enabled, and their respective physical strengths are similar to that of the Black Panther.
So, this new movie sets us off on a very emotional path, leaving T’Challa in conflict over whether to follow his father’s ways in ruling Wakanda or to venture down a new path. But then family secrets throw a spanner in the works, bringing about the much desired action scenes that MCU fans so love to see.
The movie strikes a fine balance between action and storyline. Despite matching, if not surpassing, the technological wonders presented in the Iron-Man movies, the technology is not the ultimate difference in the overall battle. And to be completely honest, it’s refreshing to see this approach since, in these comic book movies, there will ALWAYS be someone stronger or more dangerous on the horizon and weapons are only part of the solution. Moreover, all of these MCU movies are leading to Avengers Infinity War where we’re looking to see how the Blank Panther will fare in a battle against Thanos.
The Black Panther movie provides us with a fantastic opportunity to get to know this character in more detail, and also allows T’Challa to look within and to decide the course he wishes to follow in his kingship and in his universe. In this movie we see him in love, compassionate, but most importantly, fearless, as we would expect of a King. He serves his people first and foremost and only then contemplates engaging with the rest of the world.
At the Hammersmith Apollo
Despite being sat among interesting company (celebs to the left of me, celebs to the right of me, my eyes never left the screen once, not even to check the run time). But somehow I knew Stormzy was clocking me from the row behind.
The real Eric Stevens: eyeing up Stormzy at the European Premier.
I usually look at my watch when I feel like a movie is being stretched out even a little too much. But in the case of Black Panther, they cut it just right, showing respect for the original story line and length. I’m keen to see how T’Challa reappears in Infinity War. Movie trailers are deliberately deceptive these days, so I’ll just have to wait patiently for the release in the summer. And Ryan Coogler, you can buy me a drink next time.
The Black Panther cast at the Hammersmith Apollo, European Premiere
© Eric Stevens 2018
Connected Cultures - review of Black Panther
Connected Cultures – Black Panther quotes by Lupita Nyong’o
Marvel – Black Panther