Black Panther is one amazing Marvel character. Created as a comic book character in the same decade as Thor and Iron Man, he finally has his own movie. This king of the fantastical country of Wakanda in Northeastern Africa is known as the Black Panther in his sleek and dark, feline suit. But as a ruler of his people, he is known as T’Challa. In the golden age of Marvel comics, the name of the superhero himself underwent some alteration.
He was originally introduced in 1966 in the Fantastic Four series and was called Black Panther. That was in July. A few months later, in October, the militant Black Panther Party was formed and lasted until its dissolution in 1982. Well, in 1972 the character went by the name of Black Leopard. The name change did not last very long. But this had been done so as not to cause connections to be drawn between Marvel’s character Black Panther and the extremist movement of the same title.
From his appearance and active role in Captain America: Civil War (2016), we already know some of the elements which make up Black Panther’s personality. In that third and presumably final installment of the Captain America saga, T’Challa and his father T’Chaka are introduced. The viewers see Black Panther build up rage and vengeance within himself for the murder of his father. But as the movie progresses, it is seen that he realizes the revenge he seeks is pointless. He sees how revenge can break down strong relationships, and ultimately he shows compassion on the man behind T’Chaka’s death. So Black Panther is definitely a man of strong emotions.
Chadwick Boseman returns in the lead role as the Black Panther. The film is directed by Ryan Coogler, director of Creed (2015). Boseman and a few of his acting companions such as Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead) and Winston Duke reprise their Black Panther roles in Avengers: Infinity War which is also to be released this year. In addition to relatively fresh acting talent, Black Panther has also employed some of the greatest professionals in the acting business. Lupita Nyong’o, who won an Oscar for her performance in 12 Years a Slave, plays Nakia, a character who is apparently accustomed to going on special missions. Nyong’o has also done voiceovers for productions such as The Jungle Book (2016) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017).
Once again, John Kani portrays King T’Chaka, T’Challa’s father. A South African actor, Kani brings perhaps the most experienced talent to this entire production despite the fact he has not won as many awards as his peers. He is nonetheless an extremely convincing actor. Probably his best-known role prior to entering the MCU was Samuel in The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) which also featured Michael Douglas (Ant-Man). Kani shall also be providing the voice of Rafiki the baboon in the live-action remake of The Lion King.
Anyone who enjoyed many of the elements of Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Hobbit is probably anxious to see this movie. This is because two of the most prominent actors from that trilogy appear in Black Panther: Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis. Freeman (Bilbo in The Hobbit) plays CIA Agent Everett K. Ross. Like T’Challa himself, Ross was another character introduced in Civil War. Serkis (Gollum) returns as Ulysses Klaue, a gangster who first appeared in the MCU in Age of Ultron (2015).
In the trailer for Black Panther, Ross is seen questioning Klaue. They are alone together in a room talking back and forth. As a fan of The Hobbit, the first notion that popped into my head was, “I can see these two start whispering riddles in the dark to each other all over again!” All of the amazing heart and talent, both new and old, going into this production will make it worthwhile. The Black Panther has a good moral compass. He is not only a good character; he’s a great one.
Marvel fans everywhere are awaiting the long-expected screening.