Black Panther: Who He Is and Why He Is Important To The MCU

With the premiere of the Captain America: Civil War trailer, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are readily anticipating the next chapter in the Marvel films. Showcasing a clash between Captain America and Iron Man, loosely based on the Civil War storyline from Marvel Comics in 2006 and 2007, Civil War looks to be a pivotal chapter in the ongoing mythos, and the first cinematic appearance of Black Panther is a big part of that.

A character familiar to fans of the comics, but maybe not so much to fans of the Marvel movies, Black Panther, represents a step forward for the next slate of Marvel films in a couple different ways.

Black Panther-T'Challa
Photo: Marvel Comics

Black Panther is a Head Of State

Black Panther is a title given to the head of the Panther Tribe, and the ruler of the African nation of Wakanda, first mentioned in Avengers:Age Of Ultron. An isolationist and technologically advanced nation, Wakanda is the sole source of Vibranium (the metal that Captain America’s shield is made of).

To put it simply, he is the king of an entirely self-sufficient nation that can and has defended itself from various threats, both super-powered and otherwise. The title is hereditary, but still must be earned by the heir to the throne. T’Challa is the current holder of the Black Panther mantle, having inherited it from his father, T’Chaka, who had a relationship/friendship of sorts with Howard Stark (Tony’s dad)

He was the first black superhero

Debuting in 1966, Black Panther was the first black superhero. There have been other black supporting characters that debuted earlier, but Panther was the first black character with super powers and the first to have his own solo title. Being portrayed by Chadwick Boseman (42, Get On Up) in Civil War, his solo film debut will come in 2018, and will be the first Marvel Studios film to feature a black lead.

Black Panther - Captain America
Black Panther takes on Captain America
Photo: Marvel Comics

Smarter than Tony Stark, Stronger than Steve Rogers

Rigorous training through childhood and adolescence along with the survival of various trials of combat and strength have made T’Challa a force to be reckoned with. Upon ascension to the throne of Wakanda, he consumes a special heart-shaped herb that enhances his natural abilities past Olympic levels, makes him resistant to magic, and increases his senses of smell and sight to supernatural levels. He prides himself on being a scholar and inventor, having designed a myriad of vehicles and weapons used for his country’s defense. Throughout his time in the comics, he has gone blow to blow with both Iron Man and Captain America and has come out on top on multiple occasions. He also has a Ph.D. from Oxford.

The coolest looking suit in the MCU

Vibranium weave, thrice-blessed armor, and anti-metal claws, the Black Panther suit cuts an imposing figure. Considered the traditional garb of the ruler of Wakanda, the suit is easily as advanced as Iron Man’s armor and as versatile as Captain America’s uniform. It has energy dampeners (to reflect anything from bullets to blades), can project a hard light shield, and it even has a cloak.

Civil War looks to be a solid film, and another great offering from Marvel Studios, the introduction of Black Panther represents something bigger. A black character that is on equal footing with other established characters the capability to match them.

Captain America: Civil War releases on May 6,2016

Black Panther is slated for release in 2018

Mat Douglas
Mat Douglas
From Connecticut, that state between New York and Massachusetts, he enjoys well-made cookies, sarcasm, and Liverpool FC.