In just a short while since its release, Black Panther has become a global phenomenon. Raking in big bucks at the box office while being ranked among the best films of all time, Marvel’s Black Panther really has taken the world by storm. With great direction, cinematography, action and script, the film is a joy to watch and one of the reasons for its success is that the movie also features an ensemble cast worthy of the Gods. Starring the likes of Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Forest Whitaker, Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright and Martin Freeman, the movie has a tremendously talented cast.
Luckily the characters given to these actors were just as incredible. By making each character so unique, Black Panther has done an excellent job of paying proper due to the source materials. That said, there were some characters that clicked on the screen despite the modifications to their roles and others who just didn’t work out so well. Here Are 9 Black Panther Characters That Were Adapted Well (And 7 That Weren’t).
16. Adapted Well: Killmonger
Killmonger is easily MCU’s best villain to date, though the character played by Michael B. Jordan differs a bit from his comic book source. The Killmonger in Marvel comics was born and raised in Wakanda. However his father’s relationship with Ulysses Klaue led to his family’s banishment from Wakanda and their relocation to Harlem, New York. His views regarding “white colonialism” and dreams of returning Wakanda to its roots gained him followers as they did in the movie, but he was ultimately defeated by T’Challa. However, unlike his comic book counterpart, the Killmonger in Black Panther has led a pretty tough life, after his uncle killed his father and left him in America to fend for himself. The hardships Erik faces ultimately makes him the villain that he becomes, but it also makes his character one of the best written characters in MCU history.
15. Not Adapted Well: Klaue
Ulysses Klaue is a black-market arms dealer who first appeared in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The character though recently resurfaced in Black Pather, but despite Andy Serkis’ performance there is definitely more that could have been done to make him feel like a bigger threat. In the comics, he becomes the physical manifestation of sound, which makes him extremely powerful. Marvel’s Cinematic Universe have kept a more grounded approach with regards to his character. And while it works to some extent (especially where acting is concerned) it also does little to make his character particularly memorable in the long run.
14. Adapted Well: Okoye
Okoye is one of the most well known members of the Dora Milaje. In the comics, the Dora Milaje were not only the King’s bodyguards but also served as his wives in training. Despite this role being mostly ceremonial, many members of the order dreamed of becoming the wife of the King. Okoye, however, was not one of them. Black Panther ensures that Okoye is just as amazing a warrior as she is in the comics. Moreover, the film ensures that she isn’t just the King’s bodyguard but a close confidant as well.
Like the comics, Okoye takes her duty seriously and her loyalty isn’t simply towards T’Challa, but also towards the crown as well. She isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes, which makes her character all the more special. Ryan Coogler’s film certainly elevated Okoye’s character, making her more fun and badass as ever.
13. Not Adapted Well: Zuri
Zuri appeared in Black Panther played by Forest Whittaker. In the film, Zuri is shown primarily as a sage. His appearances are solely limited to him transferring powers or taking them away from T’Challa and Killmonger. At first sight, he seems strictly to be an advisor to the King Of Wakanda and the keeper of the mystic herbs, but as the flashback scene in Black Panther proves, there’s plenty more to the character.
In the comics, Zuri is one of the many warriors of Wakanda. Despite his age, Zuri possess super strength and is a master of hand to hand combat. It is also hinted that Zuri may have been the one to train T’Challa and make him the unstoppable warrior he is. The Black Panther comics also depict him as a Thor-type character, so much so that he develops a bond with the God of Thunder. It’s sad that the film decides to do away with his character before telling us more about him.
12. Adapted Well: Shuri
Shuri is easily one of the most interesting characters both in Black Panther‘s live action film and in the comics. The Princess of Wakanda, Shuri is not only the greatest innovator in all of Wakanda, but also an excellent fighter. In the comics, she later becomes Black Panther but remains very supportive of her brother while he is the King of Wakanda.
The 2018 film shows Shuri being the gifted technological inventor she is, but it also shows her being completely badass from her driving cars remotely to fighting Killmonger. The fact that the film made sure to tell us that she’s not only just a smart person, but also a caring sister and a warrior really made her character stick out as one of Marvel’s most powerful to date. It means that the filmmakers clearly understood the comics and Shuri’s importance in Wakanda and Marvel.
11. Not Adapted Well: M’Baku
M’Baku is one of the fiercest warriors in Wakanda, with his skills said to be second only to T’Challa. In the film he’s shown to be the head of the Jabari clan and isn’t a malevolent person, as he is portrayed in the comic books. The movie version of M’Baku shows him saving T’Challa’s life and fighting alongside him to oppose Killmonger. The movie deciding to turn him into a good guy isn’t as big of a loss or surprise considering that it did the same to Nakia, but it is sad that we didn’t get to see M’Baku show us his Man-Ape persona. It’s entirely possible that Black Panther 2 or some future film will see M’Baku embrace his villainous side, but it is a missed opportunity for the film to not show us more of Man-Ape.
10. Not Adapted Well: Bucky Barnes
James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes has been part of the MCU for some time now. In Captain America: Civil War, The Winter Soldier was accused as the man behind the bombing of Vienna International Centre which also took the life of Wakandan King T’Chaka. This puts him at odds with T’Challa, who believes that he is the man behind his father’s murder. Although the two initially fight, T’Challa realized that he wasn’t the culprit and Bucky was instead offered asylum in Wakanda while he was reprogrammed from his HYDRA state.
In Black Panther, it is shown that Shuri manages to successfully reprogram him. It’s strange thus, that he doesn’t help Shuri and T’Challa face off against Killmonger and his supporters, given how much T’Challa and his sister have done for him. Bucky not helping really goes against the personality of the person we’ve come to know (from the comics and movies) and Black Panther fails to provide a satisfactory explanation for his absence.
9. Adapted Well: W’Kabi
In both the film and the comics, W’Kabi serves as the head of the Wakandan security. He is shown as T’Challa’s right hand and his closest friend. But while the comics have done little to flesh his character out, the movie made his role much more interesting. In Black Panther, W’Kabi grows tired of T’Challa and his father failing to apprehend Klaw and stands behind Killmonger when he comes to take the throne.
Of course, the movie did a good job by not making his character purely evil. His relationship with Okoye was also one of the highlights of the film (despite it not being established much), especially the scene in which he lays down his arms in front of his partner.
8. Not Adapted Well: Linda/Tilda Johnson
If you were wondering if Killmonger’s girlfriend in the movie had any significance in the comics, then the answer to that is: yes, sort of. In the Marvel film, his partner in crime is simply referred to as Linda, but the truth is that she’s a shoe in for a much more important character, Nightshade. Nightshade or Tilda Johnson was originally set to be Bonnie to Erik Steven’s Clyde. In the comics, Johnson is a criminal scientist who transforms her enemies into creatures that obey her. Most famously, she turned Captain America into “Cap Wolf”.
Black Panther pretty much ignored her character for most of the movie but that may also have had to do with the unavailability of Nightshade since she’s set to play the big bad in Luke Cage Season 2. Nonetheless, considering that Linda is basically a version of Nightshade, the character wasn’t adapted very well at all.
7. Adapted Well: Nakia
Nakia is perhaps the most different in the film than her comic book counterparts. The movie version (played by the brilliant Lupita Nyong’o) portrays Nakia as a smart, headstrong woman who disagrees with Wakanda’s stance with regards to staying in the shadows and not helping others. Serving as a War Dog for her country, Nakia has a better understanding of the world than T’Challa and their differing views lead them to butt heads.
In the comics though, Nakia is quite the opposite. She started out as a member of Dora Milaje and developed a bond with Okoye ,but it was her infatuation with T’Challa that set her down a villainous path. That storyline has completely been dropped in the film with Nakia being turned into a strong and compassionate woman instead of a desperate love sick villain. While it’s obvious that she still loves T’Challa, Nakia is more interested in saving her country which made her character one of the best parts of the film.
6. Adapted Well: Queen Ramonda
Angela Bassett’s Queen Ramonda cut an imposing figures throughout the film exuding power and confidence as she saw her son become the King of Wakanda. There’s one big difference between the Ramonda in Black Panther and the one in the comics. According to Black Panther, Ramonda is the mother of T’Challa, but in the comics she is only is his surrogate mother. T’Challa’s real mother is actually N’Yami, but since the movie doesn’t disclose that Ramonda is the deceased King’s third wife and not T’Challa’s actual mother, we’re led to believe that she is his biological mother as well.
Despite this big change, Black Panther has done right by the Queen of Wakanda and made her as fierce, protective and graceful as she seemed on paper. Even her look is very similar to that of her comic book counterpart.
5. Not Adapted Well: War Dogs
“War Dog” is a word that you may have heard many times in Black Panther and while it doesn’t refer to one thing or person, it’s something the film just didn’t do a great job of adapting. Considering that prominent characters like Nakia and Zuri were watchdogs in the film, it is a surprise that the film didn’t delve into exactly what they are. Simply put, Hatut Zeraze or “Dogs of War” are Wakandan undercover spies and operatives. They were created by T’Challa’s father and had a special armor similar to that of Black Panther.
The War Dogs often butted heads with T’Challa, who found their way of working highly unstable. The movie did nothing to establish the kind of power and importance they had in Wakanda, though it did seem to suggest that the Winter Soldier could become the leader since in the comics War Dogs are headed by “White Wolf.” Hopefully the sequel can more accurately depict them.
4. Adapted Well: Everett Ross
Everett Ross worked as a foreign diplomat for the U.S State department in Marvel Comics. First introduced in Ka-Zar #17, Ross was assigned to T’Challa and escorted him around New York City. Since his introduction, he has become a significant part of the Black Panther comics. He’s among the few outsiders who are able to visit Wakanda.
The changes that have been made to his character’s personality in the movies have only served to make him a better more confident and capable version of himself. Unlike the comics, where Ross is a jittery, nervous man prone to errors, the MCU’s Everett Ross is a no nonsense CIA agent and former Deputy Task Force Commander of the JCTC who is extremely comfortable in his own skin. In fact, the change in demeanour and rank are all great updates for the character, especially as Black Panther ensures that the character is still as likeable as he was in the comics.
3. Not Adapted Well: Ayo
Ayo is the head of security for the King of Wakanda. First introduced in Captain America: Civil War, the fierce Dora Milaje showed her brass when she stood up to Black Widow and asked her to move aside. Despite not getting a sizable part, she was just as intimidating in Black Panther. However Marvel’s decision to sideline the important Black Panther character has angered many fans as it has deprived them of a chance to see an LGBT character in a major superhero film. In the comics, Ayo has an openly romantic relationship with Aneka (a fellow Dora Milaje member) but sadly Marvel didn’t see fit to include that in the film.
It’s also troubling to note that a flirtatious scene between Okoye and Ayo was actually shot and included in the early cut of the film, but didn’t make it in the film ultimately. Had Ayo’s character been more developed and her sexuality made clear, Black Panther could have been an even greater turning point for superhero films. Alas, by ignoring her for most of the film, Black Panther manages to fail Ayo’s character and fans.
2. Adapted Well: T’Chaka
T’Chaka is the ruler of Wakanda and the father of T’Challa. In the comics, T’Chaka was a significant character, especially in the Captain America comics. The two often joined forces against villains like Master Man, Warrior Woman and once helped assist Nick Fury as he looked to take down Red Skull and Baron Strucker. In fact, Captain America once even traded his triangular shield in exchange for Vibranium. In the comics, he is taken out by Ulysses Klaue, though how and where he killed him has differed in different comics.
Captain America: Civil War had the King of Wakanda being eliminated by Helmut Zemo. Apart from this though, Black Panther’s depiction of T’Chaka as a flawed but well meaning King, who spent his life in service of his people, is something comic book fans of the character can’t complain about.
1. Adapted Well: T’Challa
T’Challa is a different superhero than any other live action hero. Not only is the Black Panther strong and resilient, but the greatest thing about the film is that it allows him to be vulnerable and human too. T’Challa is also very proud of his culture, traditions and his family, which is something we don’t see a lot of on screen. Black Panther ensures that the characterization of T’Challa is something comic book fans can rally behind and since T’Challa is every bit as compassionate as he is in the comics, there is no reason for fans to complain.
Black Panther also places importance on his relationship with his father, which, while being an integral part of the comics, is something that hasn’t been explored properly before and the film allows great character growth for T’Challa because of this vital relationship. All in all, T’Challa’s adaptation is pretty much what we would want to see on screen.
Which characters did you not like in the film?
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