Warning: SPOILERS for Captain America: Civil War ahead.
Prior to Phase 3 and the reveal that Chadwick Boseman would be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther was a hero near the top of everyone's lists for characters they wanted to appear sooner rather than later. Thankfully, Marvel Studios made that happen and his debut in Captain America: Civil War only furthered the desire to see him more in the future. Boseman will be headlining Black Panther with an impressive supporting cast and Ryan Coogler as the director in Marvel's first Black led superhero movie.
Even though Black Panther may not be the first superhero movie with a Black lead, it is a step in the right direction for Marvel as they continue to diversify their universe. The majority of the cast will be Black and with the movie debuting during Black History Month, there is potential for it to be a big hit. In fact, Boseman himself is supremely confident in the property and is excited to bring another new part of the MCU to life.
Boseman recently spoke to CBR about his role as Black Panther and his upcoming solo movie. When Black Panther does come out, it will have been nearly two years since we last saw T'Challa as the brand new king of Wakanda. One of his final acts in Civil War was preventing the death of Baron Zemo, which certainly was a defining moment for him. Boseman hopes that this scene alone shows what type of ruler audiences and the people of Wakanda can expect:
I feel like you get a chance to see that he’s not going to be a selfish ruler. He’s not going to be a dictator. He’s not going to be a person that does things purely for his own gain. That he does have a heroic aspect at the heart of a hero; of a leader. You can pull for him, because he’s merciful. And it leaves room also for him to do things that are not necessarily perfect.
No matter how effective T'Challa is as a leader, Black Panther appears to have a political aspect to the plot as well if co-star Lupita Nyong'o is to be believed. If this is the case, the struggles of ruling an entire nation that has so far stayed out of the public eye will not be an easy thing to do, especially after the events of Civil War. This could provide Marvel with a chance to take a more grounded approach to the movie, similarly to what they did with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and that is just what Boseman wants. He said:
It’s funny, because on one hand, the Marvel movies that I’ve liked the most are the ones that are funny. I love Ant-Man. But for me, most of the time the darker superhero movies are the ones that I gravitate towards, that I love the most. So I’m glad that I’m not in an Ant-Man. I’m glad that the tone of [Black Panther] may be a little grittier. I just wanted to establish that from the beginning, that that’s what we were doing. That that’s what I intend to do. I feel like we’ll end up in a place that I’ve always wanted to be when I look at superhero movies. Those are the ones I like the most. It’s exciting to do that.
The tone will definitely be important in determining how well the movie is received by audiences. Marvel has so far done a fairly good job at delivering some more hard-hitting stories, while keeping the fun, which is one of the reasons their movies have done well so far. Black Panther should be able to feed off of the past success of the MCU.
Additionally, Black Panther may benefit from the build up that will happen as fans see the diverse crew that Marvel has assembled for this project. It is because of the chance to be one of the first major blockbusters with a cast, as well as a director and crew, that is almost entirely Black that Boseman thinks this movie will be such a big deal:
I feel the energy. The image itself opens people’s minds up. You can talk about it all you want, you can have it in a comic book, you can even do an animated series, but when you see real people doing it, it changes something inside of you. It’s going to be a big deal because there’s not just Black people or people of African descent that want to see it, I think everybody wants to see it. That’s the beautiful thing. I truly believe there are more people who want to see it than don’t want to see it, especially after being here.
Black Panther was one of the most talked about characters coming out of Civil War and that excitement around his solo movie should not falter as time passes. It will also be the last movie we see before Avengers: Infinity War, so there could be larger things at play here that we do not yet know about. That is not to say that this movie is just going to be set up for the big battle because Marvel knows how important it is to do this right. But, appearances by Bucky or Steve "no longer Captain America" Rogers would not be surprising.
Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming– July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; Untitled Avengers – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.