It may have taken longer than some fans would have liked, but Marvel has finally made their plans for introducing a minority hero clear: Black Panther is coming in 2017, and the African hero will be making history for the genre in the process. However, it’s likely that the non-comic book crowd (who has helped make films like The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy record-setting blockbusters) may have never even heard of Black Panther – let alone thought of what to expect from a big screen adaptation.
In the past, we’ve offered brief summaries of the reasons why DC heroes like Aquaman, Shazam, or The Flash all deserve shots at big screen success. With Marvel now looking to launch standalone franchises off their lesser-known heroes (in the eyes of the mainstream, at least), we thought it time to consider the 5 Reasons why Black Panther could be a great Marvel superhero movie.
5. The World
Even casual audiences now realize that there are only so many ways that an origin story can be told. And with far too many superhero movies on their way for any sane person to hope to keep up with, there’s no question that they’re starting to overlap in terms of fiction or setting. Cosmic movies may head into space, but the more ‘grounded’ characters tend to find themselves in the same generic ‘city’ backdrop – a primarily American one, to boot.
Although Black Panther (in costume) will first appear in Captain America: Civil War (played by Chadwick Boseman), his home is far from North America – set in the long-hidden nation of Wakanda, Africa (the exact location is unclear). In the comics, Wakanda’s technology and brilliance puts any Western metropolis to shame.
In Wakanda, the cutting-edge construction, technology or architecture aren’t symptoms of globalization or western influence, but rather the riches attained from its own people (and the sizeable vibranium deposit the country sits on). If audiences have grown even more weary of the concrete jungles of Marvel’s American leads by the time Black Panther rolls around, then a chance to visit a real jungle, set within a society steeped in African tribal mythology and oral tradition would be seized without hesitation.
Since Wakanda is far more of a fictionalized society than the actual American locations of its core heroes, the writers have a bit of creative freedom. Perhaps a chance to tailor a society’s history and values so it offers a scathing reflection or stark contrast to those from which the Avengers themselves draw?
4. The Story
It’s immediately clear to newcomers that T’Challa’s origin story will differ heavily from any other existing hero in Marvel’s stable – actually beginning 10,000 years in the past, when the tribes of Wakanda were united under a single chieftain. From there began the royal line of chieftain/kings – known by the title of ‘Black Panther’ – passing the position to their oldest son only once they had educated themselves on Wakandan magic, tradition, academics and ‘the ways of the warrior.’
With leadership comes great responsibility – but also perks. For starters, our hero will have a connection to the Black Panthers that came before, and a hereditary immunity to a unique herb granting him superhuman strengths and senses. That was the future that awaited T’Challa as his own father T’Chaka sat upon the Wakandan throne, encouraging his son to excel at all aspects of life (to better earn the mantle).
Some royal children might wind up spoiled or entitled, but T’Challa took his father’s guidance to heart, earning numerous degrees and achieving both academic and athletic excellence while studying abroad – including a stay within the United States.
Proving that some heroes simply have greatness thrust upon them, the death of his father put T’Challa on path to proving himself worthy of the rank of Black Panther, ingesting the herbs required to connect him to the Panther God, Bast. With the weight of his father’s death on his mind – and a drive to bring the murderers responsible to justice – T’Challa put his wisdom to use, building Wakanda into a veritable technological superpower.
Running a country while acting as its top soldier and smartest thinker puts the workload of Captain America or Tony Stark to shame; but as one of the smartest, deadliest, and wisest people in Marvel’s universe, T’Challa has managed the task with excellence. And as enjoyable as it may be to see underdogs rise to an occasion in superhero films, seeing a character born into greatness manage to exceed even the highest expectations is compelling on an entirely different level.
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