In the past few weeks, we’ve been treated to trailers for Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, meaning that I get to drag out this series again. As far as new characters go through, there’s really only one from each trailer (Except X-Men, but I’ll get to that trailer later), and the character from Dawn of Justice is kind of a huge spoiler, so for now, I’ll stick with talking about Marvel’s first black superhero, the Black Panther.
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966)
Created by: Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Portrayed by: Chadwick Boseman (42, Draft Day, Get On Up)
Other portrayals: Keith David (Fantastic Four: The Animated Series) Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Iron Man: Armored Adventures) Taye Diggs (The Super Hero Squad Show) Djimon Hounsou (Black Panther) James C. Mathis III (Marvel Heroes, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes) Mahito Oba (Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers) Phil LaMarr (Marvel: Ultimate Alliance) Tim Russ (Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2) John Eric Bentley (Lego Marvel Super Heroes)
T’Challa was born in the African kingdom of Wakanda, a nation known for its vast deposits of vibranium (The material that Captain America’s shield is made out of). The people of Wakanda belong to several different cults, the dominant one being the Panther Cult. The king of Wakanda traditionally takes the title of the “Black Panther”, bestowed upon him by the Panther Goddess, Bast. The Black Panther is given strength, speed, durability and senses and wears a black, panther-themed uniform.
T’Challa’s grandfather, King Azzuri, helped out Captain America and Nick Fury during the Second World War. His father, T’Chaka, was the Black Panther when the vast vibranium deposits were discovered. Refusing to allow his country to be subject to foreign interests, T’Chaka fiercely protected Wakanda, sending out finite amounts to other countries, while keeping the rest at home. This, along with his policy of sending young Wakandans to study abroad, transformed the small, Central African into one of the most advanced countries in the world. Not the qualification that comes to mind when one thinks of Central African theocratic monarchies, but there you go.
Unfortunately, capitalistic dickheadedness soon reared its ugly, uh, dickhead. Not particularly pleased with Wakanda’s refusal to roll over and let its natural resources be raped and plundered by their corporate overlords, the Western Powers hired German assassin Ulysses Klaue to murder T’Chaka. Unfortunately, Klaue succeeded in his sordid task, and T’Challa was left fatherless.
T’Chaka’s younger brother, S’Yan, took over as interim Black Panther while T’Challa studied abroad, earning a Ph.D. from Oxford in Physics. Eventually returning to Wakanda, T’Challa found the Heart-Shaped Herb that granted him the link with Bast. Defeating S’Yan in single combat (S’Yan didn’t mind), T’Challa became the new Black Panther and, with the help of his allies, the Fantastic Four, he took his revenge on Klaue.
Since ascending to the throne, T’Challa has been a major player in the Marvel Universe, becoming an ally (And occasional member) of the Fantastic Four, and frequently serving as a member of the Avengers. He also used to be married to Ororo Munroe (Storm of the X-Men), but they have since divorced after finding themselves on opposite sides of a conflict between the Avengers and the X-Men. He eventually lost the title of Black Panther of Wakanda to his younger sister, Shuri, but then became King of the Dead for some reason, giving him the ability to draw upon the memories and experiences of all former Black Panthers.
All this confusing shit has been done away with in the Marvel Comics relaunch though. He is now king of Wakanda again, and is a member of a science-based team of Avengers known as the Ultimates, who battle cosmic threats.
In Captain America: Civil War the only thing that’s known for sure about Black Panther is that his role in the Cap vs. Iron Man conflict is greatly expanded upon from the comic. He is also shown in the trailer fighting Captain America, so it can be assumed that he is on Iron Man’s Pro-Registration side, but he’s also known for being fairly ambiguous, so who knows, really (In fact, in the comics, he supported Captain America after the government tried to make Storm sign the Registration Act).