[This post contains mild spoilers for Captain America: Civil War]
Captain America: Civil War marked the first live action film appearance of T’Challa, known to most as Black Panther. In a time where controversy surrounds many film productions over diversity, Black Panther is an important comic book hero to bring to the big screen. Perhaps unknown to some, Black Panther is in fact the first black superhero in mainstream comics. He appeared before other Marvel characters such as Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Luke Cage, and predated several black DC characters such as John Stewart (Green Lantern).
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe (“MCU”), Black Panther is portrayed by Chadwick Boseman. His first appearance in the latest installment of the Captain America franchise was a scene stealer. In the film, Black Panther displayed his exceptional speed, strength, and agility, all while appearing in what is arguably the coolest uniform to date in the MCU. But now that Captain America: Civil War is behind us, it is time to look forward to T’Challa’s first solo appearance. Black Panther’s eponymous solo film is set to hit theaters on February 16, 2018.
While this may be Black Panther’s first solo outing, there is essentially no such thing any longer in the MCU. The beauty of the cinematic universe is the ability to have characters appear in multiple movies, thus creating one large interwoven storyline. Early casting has begun, and we already know that Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong’o will be joining Chadwick Boseman in the film. With that in mind, it is time to start speculating on what characters will be in Black Panther, and who we want to see appear. We are attempting to put together a realistic list, so despite Storm (of X-Men fame) being T’Challa’s wife in the comics, it is beyond doubtful that Fox and Marvel would work out a deal in time for the movie for her to appear.
With the exception of Storm, here are 15 Marvel Characters We Want To See In Black Panther.
15. Nick Fury
Where in the world is Nick Fury? Fans (and Samuel L. Jackson himself) were shocked to learn that Nick Fury would not be appearing in Captain America: Civil War. Not only did Fury appear in the first two films featuring Captain America, he also appeared in the first two Iron Man films, both Avengers movies, and a post-credit scene in Thor. It’s obvious that Nick Fury plays a large role in the MCU. But he was left out of Civil War.
The question is not whether Nick Fury is done with MCU – he almost certainly is not. The real question, is whether he will appear before Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1? Nick Fury could appear in Wakanda in a non-governmental capacity, perhaps at Captain America’s request. We can only hope we see Nick Fury sooner rather than later, because everything is just a bit better with Samuel L. Jackson screaming.
14. Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross
William Hurt, who originally appeared in The Incredible Hulk as General Ross, returned to the MCU after a nearly eight year absence in Captain America: Civil War. In that film, he appeared as the government face of the Sokovia Accords, and the current United States Secretary of State. Due to T’Challa’s role in the Sokovia Accords, and the fact that he is harboring Bucky Barnes, it would not be surprising to see General Ross make an appearance in Wakanda.
While it is unlikely that General Ross would be making a major appearance in Black Panther, William Hurt could film a small role in a relatively short period of time, and it could be a nice way to reiterate the lasting effects of the recently signed Sokovia Accords and resulting “civil war”. General Ross may also be looking for dissenting Avengers, who could be seeking refuge in Wakanda.
13. Everett Ross
In the comics, Everett Ross is a supporting character of Black Panther, but he has already appeared in the MCU. Everett Ross was played by Martin Freeman in Captain America: Civil War. In that film, Ross was the Deputy Task Force commander of the Joint Counter Terrorist Centre, put in place after the Sokovia Accords were signed. In the comics, Everett Ross’s role is slightly different; he acts as a member of the State Department, escorting foreign diplomats on American soil. One of those diplomats is, you guessed it, T’Challa.
Due to Black Panther’s involvement in the Sokovia Accords, and the role he played in catching Helmut Zemo, who is now locked up in Ross’s custody, it is not too much of a reach to assume that Everett Ross would be joining T’Challa in his solo outing. Ross is primarily a supporting character of Black Panther, so in some capacity he should appear in the film. Plus, you can never go wrong with more Martin Freeman.
While Lupita Nyong’o’s role in Black Panther is speculated as T’Challa’s love interest, fans hope it turns out she is playing Shuri, his sister. Shuri first appeared in Black Panther vol. 4, #2 in 2005, and later assumed the mantle of Black Panther herself, a role she has long coveted. In that capacity, she too dons the Vibranium uniform worn by T’Challa. Shuri is a strong female character, and even before going through the trials to assume the Black Panther mantle, is an exceptionally trained martial artist. Once she completes the trials, Shuri consumes the heart-shaped herb granting her the enhanced physical attributes of the Black Panthers before her.
While Lupita Nyong’o will certainly excel in whatever role she assumes, there is no doubt that she would be a commanding presence as the warrior, Shuri. It would also be refreshing to see another female character displaying feats of heroism in the MCU.
Azari is T’Challa and Storm’s son, who first appeared in the Marvel animated movie, Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow. In order to appear in Black Panther, much of Azari’s backstory will have to change. However, Marvel has been open to doing this on various occasions – look no further than the backstories of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. The bottom line is that Storm will not be appearing in Black Panther. Therefore, Azari’s mother would have to be someone else, just as T’Challa’s love interest will have to be someone else. Perhaps Azari could be an adopted son, which would parallel him being raised by Tony Stark (after Black Panther dies in the animated movie).
No matter what capacity Azari appears, he would be a fun character to have on screen, if for no other reason than seeing the father-son dynamic, which can make for great humor and conflict. This would also be a role that would provide a jump-start to a young actor’s career.
10. Ulysses Klaue
In the comics, Ulysses Klaue is the murderer of T’Chaka (Black Panther’s father) and the archenemy of T’Challa. His only appearance to date in the MCU is in Avengers: Age of Ultron, where he is played by Andy Serkis. In that film, he is approached by Ultron, who wanted to purchase Vibranium from him. Unfortunately for Klaue, he enrages Ultron (by comparing him to Tony Stark), and loses his arm as a result. However, he survived the encounter, and as far as we know, is billions of dollars richer.
It makes sense that Klaue would return in Black Panther. Not only is he an enemy of the Black Panther in the comics (though not the murderer of his father in the movies), he has a history with Wakanda in the MCU – he was branded a thief for stealing loads of Vibranium. Since he survived Ultron’s wrath in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Andy Serkis is on good terms with Disney (he portrays Supreme Leader Snoke in the Star Wars sequels) there is no reason to believe we won’t see him on screen again – unless, of course, Wakanda is home to an abundance of cuttlefish.
To casual fans of Marvel comics, or perhaps just the films, many of Black Panther’s supporting characters may not be household names. One of those supporting characters is W’Kabi. In the comics, W’Kabi is chief of Wakandan security, and T’Challa’s second in command. W’Kabi sports a bionic right arm that is capable of emitting large blasts and contains internal weaponry, making him a force to be reckoned with. He is a strong warrior and unquestionably loyal to his king, Black Panther.
Every major superhero needs a supporting cast of allies that they call their own. W’Kabi would fit in nicely next to T’Challa as Lady Sif and the Warriors Three have with Thor, and James Rhodes has with Tony Stark. Further, in the mainstream Marvel universe, he perishes while trying to protect T’Challa and Shuri. Anyone with that sense of loyalty and honor deserves a place in Black Panther’s first solo film.
8. White Wolf
There have been reports that Marvel is looking to cast White Wolf, so obviously it won’t be much of a surprise if he appears in Black Panther. White Wolf, who was born with the name Hunter, was adopted by T’Chaka, T’Challa’s father, when his parents plane crashed in Africa. Hunter, being the adopted son of T’Chaka, knew that he would not rise to the throne of Wakanda due to the birth of T’Challa. Like another adopted son in the MCU (Loki of course), this led to jealously and attempts to upstage his brother.
Hunter’s desire to be better than his brother led his father to name him to the Wakandan secret police. When T’Challa disbanded the police, White Wolf became a mercenary for hire. White Wolf will make a fun addition to the MCU and is a character who can stand toe to toe with Black Panther. White Wolf is an interesting character because he is first and foremost a patriot of Wakanda, making him a potentially complex and dynamic villain for the film.
7. Black Widow
We all know by now that Marvel likes to have their characters cross over into different films. One of their most active characters is Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow. Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow) shared several scenes with T’Challa in Captain America: Civil War, so it wouldn’t be too surprising if she were to show up in some capacity. We do know that Wakanda has become somewhat of a safe haven for Captain America’s allies (given both he and Winter Soldier are seen there), and Black Widow had allowed Captain Rogers and Bucky to escape after that awesome airport fight – so she could appear.
While this may be a bit of a long shot, a cameo is certainly not out of the question, and every scene that Scarlett Johansson is in is better than one where she is absent. So here’s to keeping our fingers crossed we get to see Black Widow in Black Panther.
6. Howard Stark
Another character who has appeared in a fair share of MCU properties is Howard Stark. Portrayed by either Dominic Cooper or John Slattery, Howard Stark has appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man 2, Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, and Agent Carter. So it is not out of the realm of possibility that he could be appearing in Black Panther.
This is also not just a random pick to fill out a list, Howard Stark has a history with Wakanda. It was Stark who gathered the Vibranium that makes up Captain America’s shield in The First Avenger, and that fact is reiterated in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Howard Stark could appear in a flashback similar to his appearance in Ant-Man and Captain America: Civil War, and this could be a way of connecting Black Panther immediately to the rest of the MCU. The only question is, will he be portrayed by Cooper or Slattery?
5. Man-Ape (M’Baku)
There’s no way to tip-toe around it, Black Panther does not have the most famous rogues gallery. But every movie needs a villain (well at least every superhero movie) and Black Panther is no exception. We know Ulysses Klaue is a frequent enemy to Black Panther, but due to Andy Serkis’s busy schedule, it is unlikely he will be appearing in a major role. We also know that Michael B. Jordan has been cast as an unspecified villain. Could that villain be M’Baku? Well, maybe.
M’Baku is one of Wakanda’s fiercest warriors, his skills second only to Black Panther himself. With the desire to return Wakanda to a primitive state, M’Baku has attempted to steal Black Panther’s throne. M’Baku takes the alias Man-Ape after killing a white gorilla and bathing in its blood and eating its flesh – gruesome, we know.
While it is still unclear who Michael B. Jordan will be playing, he has a strong physique (as evident in Creed) and no doubt the acting chops to pull this villain – but who knows, he could be the next one instead.
4. Erik Killmonger
If Michael B. Jordan is not portraying Man-Ape, another likely candidate would be frequent Black Panther villain Erik Killmonger. Erik Killmonger was born with the name N’Jadaka, and is himself a native of Wakanda. He was exiled after his father was manipulated into participating (and later dying) in Ulysses Klaue’s attack on Black Panther’s home country.
After his exile by T’Challa, N’Jadaka moved to Harlem, New York and adopted the name Erik Killmonger. He developed a burning hatred for Black Panther and a desire to seek revenge for the death of his father. If Andy Serkis’s Klaue were to return in Black Panther, it would make sense that Killmonger could be one of the primary antagonists in the film, due to his connection with the aforementioned villain. Whether or not he would be played by Michael B. Jordan is only speculation at this point – but it is quite fun to speculate.
3. Captain America
Despite Marvel’s propensity to have major characters appear in multiple movies, it is unlikely that Captain America would appear in any capacity other than a cameo. However, if there is any character who is likely to cameo, it is Captain Rogers. Let’s take a look at why this is the case. First, Bucky Barnes is in Wakanda. Whether he appears in the movie in any major capacity is unclear, but we know where he is, and it is likely that Steve Rogers will want to check in on his friend.
Secondly, and most importantly, Black Panther is the final film to be released before the event that all the Marvel movies have been leading up to – Avengers: Infinity War. It may just be a mid-credit scene, but there will no doubt be a tease for that major film which will be released just a few months later. And the likely tease would be Captain America coming to Wakanda to recruit all the help he can get.
2. Helmut Zemo
Though appearing as a minor character on screen during Captain America: Civil War, Helmut Zemo was the driving force behind the “civil war” between the Avengers. It was his manipulation of the Winter Soldier that really got the ball rolling. Despite his attempt to end his life at the end of Captain America: Civil War, Helmut Zemo remains very much alive, and in the custody of Everett Ross – who will hopefully be appearing in Black Panther. Helmut Zemo’s current predicament is because Black Panther realized he was manipulating the Avengers, and thwarted his suicide attempt.
Daniel Brühl, who plays Zemo, has stated in the past that the character could reappear in future films, and with his proximity to T’Challa’s ally, Everett Ross, and his previous interactions with Black Panther, it would not be a surprise to see him appear in Black Panther. Plus, it does seem like we will be seeing more of Zemo, because why else keep him alive?
1. Winter Soldier
There has been some speculation that Black Panther could be joined in his solo film outing by the Winter Soldier. We hope this is the case, and frankly, it could not make more sense. By now you likely know that the mid-credit scene in Captain America: Civil War reveals that Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier, is taking refuge in T’Challa’s home of Wakanda. In that movie, Bucky Barnes is easily manipulated by a few choice words by Helmut Zemo (played by Daniel Brühl of Inglorious Bastards fame). For this reason, Bucky no longer feels like it is safe for him to be out in the world, so he returns to cryogenic sleep until he is no longer a threat. That long slumber is in Wakanda.
With Black Panther presumably taking place after the events of Captain America: Civil War, it is not a leap to assume that we could be seeing Bucky Barnes. We just hope that we see him in action and not just as a Easter-egg popsicle.
With fans largely praising Black Panther’s first appearance in the MCU, we all wait in anticipation to see who will join him in his solo film. Let us know in the comments who you want to see appear in Black Panther!