Marvel Comics has proven it beyond any doubt: it's time for Black Panther to become the new Nick Fury of Marvel's Cinematic Universe... as head of the global superhero intelligence network protecting Earth from every threat.
The MCU is about to enter a time of major transition and change. The stars of Phases 1-3 are expected to bow out in Avengers: Endgame, with both Robert Downey, Jr. and Chris Evans seemingly at the end of their tenure. They'll be passing the baton to a new generation of heroes, ranging from Brie Larson's Captain Marvel to Tom Holland's Spider-Man. Based on the films and comics that inspired them, Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther will undoubtedly stand at the center of the new MCU. Last year's Black Panther was an unprecedented success, grossing over $700 million in the domestic box office and $1.3 billion worldwide. That success means more than just a sequel, with Kevin Feige confirming Black Panther makes more diverse movies possible.
But how will Black Panther fit into the post-Phase 3 MCU? As is so often the case, Marvel Studios would be wise to look to the comics for inspiration, where T'Challa has taken a powerful new position in the Marvel Universe. Move over Nick Fury, it's time for the Agents of Wakanda to show how it's done.
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Black Panther is Leading Marvel's Avengers
Marvel Comics has been focusing on Black Panther for a number of years, with Ta-Nehisi Coates launching a revival of the character back in 2016 (which introduced and re-introduced key elements that helped inform Ryan Coogler's Black Panther movie). With the Black Panther brand now stronger than ever before, the comic book publisher has gradually reoriented itself to place T'Challa at the heart of its stories. Most recently, Jason Aaron's ongoing Avengers series has seen him become leader of the latest version of the Avengers, elected unanimously by heroes like Captain America, Iron Man, and Captain Marvel. There have been massive ramifications, with the Avengers essentially splitting off from the U.S. Government, who are unhappy with the Wakandan leader being in charge of the world's premiere super-team.
S.H.I.E.L.D. is currently defunct in the comics, and it didn't take long for Panther to deduce that the Avengers need a similar intelligence network to inform their strategic decisions, and keep a watchful eye on potential crises around the globe. To that end, he's expanded Wakanda's own espionage unit, approaching key figures across the world and asking them to work with him. Not as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but as Agents of Wakanda.
The Agents of Wakanda Have Replaced SHIELD
T'Challa has approached a whole host of seasoned secret agents and he's backed them up with potential information assets and superhuman field operatives. In Avengers #12, he recruited everybody from Ka-Zar to Odin the All-Father, the Wasp, and even Gorilla-Man. Black Panther has carefully chosen assets who are familiar with every corner of the Marvel Universe; he's picked characters who can survive in extreme locations (Ka-Zar's first mission was to reconnoiter Atlantis), who are familiar with magic and Asgardian lore, and even has operatives working within the various governments, monitoring their own super-soldier programs. In a smart move, T'Challa has taken the S.H.I.E.L.D. shutdown as an opportunity, signing up their best operatives as his new agents. He's even picked up - and modified - an old S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier.
It's a smart move, and at a stroke it makes Wakanda the most important nation in the entire Marvel Comics Universe. All the resources of Wakanda are behind Black Panther's version of the Avengers Initiative, and they mean the Avengers are more prepared than ever before. Of course, that just means they're about to face some of their worst crises, too. Jason Aaron is building up to his "War of the Realms" event, which will see all Nine Realms consumed by cosmic war. But the constant threat of a massive attack or invasion is already defining the movie universe, as well.
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- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019