Black Panther is finally in theaters and from what I’ve seen on my newsfeed and the internet, it is a gamechanger for Marvel and superhero movies in general. Admittedly I’ve never read much of the character but I love a good movie and Black Panther looks amazing just from the trailers alone. So I started doing research into Black Panther aka T’Challa, the King and protector of the fictional African nation Wakanda and here are ten things I came across that caught my attention, some of which really got me even more hyped for when I see the movie myself.
1. Before he was a Panther, he was a Tiger.
Before he debuted in Fantastic Four #52, co-creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were still figuring out the details for the character. This was Kirby’s original artwork for the character dubbed “ Coal Tiger”.
2. While undergoing a rite of passage, he met and fell in love with a future superhero
In Marvel Team-Up #100, T’Challa was undergoing a Wakandian rite of passage necessary to becoming the Black Panther when he came across men who sought to capture him and return him to South Africa. He was saved by a teenage orphan named Ororo Monroe who used her elemental powers to save him. They would reconnect years later when he was the Black Panther and she was Storm of the Uncanny X-Men. While they admitted feelings for each other but the opportunity had passed, their relationship would grow throughout the years.
3. Black Panther invited the Fantastic Four to Wakanda just to fight them as a test for himself.
In T’Challa’s first published appearance in Fantastic Four #52-53, the king invited the famous super family to Wakanda and then decided to engage them in combat. Although he was outnumbered, he successfully managed to neutralize them individually. The entire ordeal was a test for himself to see if he was ready to face his enemy Ulysses Klaw, a physicist and adventurer who had murdered T’Challa’s father in cold blood. He would later make up with the team and become a valued ally to the Fantastic Four.
4. A Black Panther story was Marvel’s first graphic novel.
In Jungle Action #6- 18, the story arc titled “Panther’s Rage” which detailed Wakanda during a revolution against T’Challa who left his self-imposed exile in the United States to return to his home country was the first comic at that time that had a beginning, middle and end. Writer Don McGregor and artists Rich Buckler, Gil Kane, and Billy Graham helped to pioneer something that would become common in the comic book industry: The self-contained, multi-issue story arc.
5. The controversial story where Black Panther fought the Klu Klux Klan was (technically) never finished.
In Jungle Action #19-24, writer Don McGregor and his artistic team had T’Challa travel to Southern America where he battles racism and prejudice in the form of the infamous Klu Klux Klan. It was a ballsy storyline and the subject was controversial for the 1970s America which was still wrestling with such issues. The series itself was cancelled with issue #24 and the storyline was abandoned mid-story. Fortunately, Black Panther was relaunched with Jack Kirby and “Panther vs. The Klan” was picked up as a subplot in Black Panther #14-15 and eventually concluded in Marvel Premiere #51-53. However, the conclusion was not written by McGregor but by writer Ed Hannigan. The original conclusion of “Panther vs. The Klan” was never completed although layouts had been completed for the issue.
6. Everett K. Ross was one of the main reasons Christopher Priest wrote Black Panther in 2008
Christopher Priest and Mark Texeira’s run on Black Panther is considered one of the best and in the series, State Department attorney Evert Ross, played by actor Martin Freeman on the big screen, is an important character throughout Priest’s run. He felt that Black Panther had been misused since his creation and “ I realized I could use Ross to bridge the gap between the African culture that the Black Panther mythos is steeped in and the predominantly white readership Marvel sells to”, clarifying that “ his stream of conscious narrative is a window into things I imagine many whites say or at least think when no blacks are around; myths about black culture and behavior.”
7. T’Challa is not the only person to have worn the Black Panther mantle.
At one point, T’Challa met a future version of himself who was stricken with a terminal brain aneurysm to the point where he was placed in cryogenic stasis. When T’Challa in the present discovers he now has a brain aneurysm, he succumbed to bouts of instability and insanity. When his condition almost instigated tribal warfare, he relinquished his power to his council and disappeared to later end up in New York. In New York, he would eventually mentor multiracial police officer Kasper Cole who used a spare Black Panther costume to continue his legacy. His role of a mentor gave T’Challa the strength to overcome his illness, reclaim the title of Black Panther and even return as an active member of the Avengers. Kasper would eventually take on another legacy as the White Tiger before working with T’Challa on his own individual hero identity. T’Challa’s sister Shuri would also be trained and earned the mantle of the Black Panther while T’Challa was left comatose and attempted to recover from his injuries and the eventual loss of his powers. When his powers returned, he would return as the Black Panther.
8. At one point, Marvel tried changing his name to Black Leopard
Marvel wanted to distance the character of Black Panther from the Black Panther Party which gained prominence in the 1970s and beginning with his guest appearance in Fantastic Four #119, they tried to change his name to Black Leopard. When asked about it in the comics, T’Challa said “I contemplate a return to your country, Ben Grimm, where the latter term has political connotations. I neither condemn nor condone those who have take up the name, but T’Challa is a law unto himself. Hence, the new name- a minor point, at best, since the panther is a leopard.” However, this change did not last long.
9. T’Challa and Storm eventually married but their marriage has been annulled.
After years of occasionally working together, T’Challa proposed to Ororo Monroe after helping her reunite with her surviving family in the United States and Africa. They were married in Black Panther #18 in an enormous Wakandan ceremony attended by many of Marvel’s superheroes. Together the couple would embark on a less-than-stellar diplomatic tour, fight alongside Captain America in Civil War, temporarily fill in for Reed Richards and Sue Storm in the Fantastic Four and supported each other in their individual struggles as Black Panther and in the X-Men. Unfortunately, during the Avengers vs. X-Men storyline, Storm chose to side with the X-Men instead of alongside the Avengers with her husband. The city of Wakanda would be destroyed by a Phoenix-powered Namor and when Storm returned to help, T’Challa sternly informed her that their marriage had been annulled. They have remained separated despite T’Challa stating that he still thinks of her as his Queen.
10. T’Challa’s role in Captain America: Civil War was supposed to be much smaller
Originally T’Challa wasn’t even supposed to appear in costume as the writers had intended for more of the focus to be on Spider-Man and save Black Panther’s origin for an solo movie. But when it looked like Marvel wouldn’t get the permission from Sony to use the character, Black Panther’s role was increased significantly. Eventually they found out they could use Spider-Man but by then T’Challa and Black Panther had become so integral to the movie’s plot that the writers decided to leave it and give Spider-Man the smaller role that would be expanded in future movies.
Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed the article and enjoyed seeing the film in theaters whenever you got/get the chance. I’ll make sure to send you the link to my upcoming mixtape later.