Warning: SPOILERS for Avengers #8
Black Panther has been chosen as the long overdue leader of Marvel's Avengers - which makes the fact that he was killed off in the Marvel movies even harder to swallow. But will T-Challa someday utter the famous "Avengers Assemble!" in the MCU, too?
Jason Aaron's Avengers run continues to be unlike anything comic readers have seen before. The new team line-up includes stalwarts Captain America, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, and Thor, but they've been joined by some more unusual members, namely Black Panther, She-Hulk, Doctor Strange, and Robbie Reyes's Ghost Rider. Marvel Comics is always keen to tie into the movies at every opportunity, so it's hardly a surprise that some of these characters are expected to be major figures in the future of the MCU.
The Avengers' first mission saw them battling to save the planet from the Final Host, a brutal army of Celestials. Now the team is pausing to catch its breath, and to settle into their new Antarctic base. Along the way, they decide on a new chairperson; and the outcome is unanimous. They vote for Black Panther. Although T'Challa is wary, warning that the King of Wakanda being in charge of the Avengers will cause some political tension, the Avengers aren't concerned about the political tensions that might arise. In Captain America's view, the Avengers need new leadership for a new age. And in Thor's opinion, T'Challa "has earned such an honor many times over."
Of course, from an out-of-universe perspective there's one simple reason Black Panther has become leader of the Avengers: he's becoming one of Marvel's biggest stars. The success of the Black Panther movie took even Marvel by surprise, officially becoming the highest-grossing superhero movie of all time in the domestic market. In recognition of the film's influence, cultural relevance and popularity, Disney has submitted Black Panther for all Oscars categories, including Best Picture. With Phase 1 leads like Robert Downey, Jr. and Chris Evans expected to bow out after Avengers 4, it's extremely likely that Black Panther will become one of the MCU's leading heroes. So it's no surprise to see Marvel Comics also giving T'Challa a bigger pieces of the spotlight (and understandably hoping Black Panther comics will sell off the back of the hero's big-screen success).
But it raises an interesting question: will Marvel take the same approach in films just as easily? Ensemble Avengers films are likely to be a little rarer after Phase 3, simply because there are so many characters and concepts to toss into them. But for all the logistical and plotting difficulties involved, these team-up movies are still blockbuster hits on a near-unprecedented scale, and they're sure to continue.
If there is indeed another Avengers film, it would make sense for T'Challa to take charge of the team. Especially if Captain America's days are numbered, and there's a case to be made that it's time for Iron Man to die in Avengers 4. Marvel Comics may well have just set a precedent that the MCU will follow in the years to come... if they weren't headed that direction already.
The Avengers #8 is available now from Marvel Comics.