T’Challa - Black Panther
Watching the entire exchange between Klaue and Ross is T’Challa, better known as the Black Panther. Even more than the two men, T’Challa is the best-known character in the film. Not only has he had a good amount of screentime in the MCU, but his comic book history goes back decades.
Debuting in 1966’s Fantastic Four #52—four issues before Klaw arrived—T’Challa is the ruler of the isolated and technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda. Though his early years were marred by stereotypes, he still bears the distinction of being the first mainstream black superhero. Serving as both the king and protector of Wakanda, T’Challa holds the title of the Black Panther, which comes with a Vibranium uniform and enhanced physical abilities. Over the years, he’s helped open his country to the world while also serving with the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. He even took over for Daredevil for a time as the protector of Hell’s Kitchen.
Along with his skills as a warrior and ruler, T’Challa is also one of the smartest people in Marvel Comics, with an advanced understanding of physics and technology. Whether his intellect will be on display in the MCU, we don’t yet know, but his status as a gifted fighter are more than evident so far.
Despite T’Challa’s considerable skills in combat, the king is still guarded by a legion of protectors. The most exalted and formidable of these are the Dora Milaje, an elite female guard made up of Wakanda’s finest warriors. Watching Klaue’s interrogation alongside T’Challa is Danai Gurira as Okoye, one the main Dora Milaje in the upcoming film.
Known as the Adored Ones, the Dora Milaje were once queens-to-be for the ruler of Wakanda. Chosen from the various tribes of the nation to keep the peace among them, the Dora Milaje during T’Challa’s rule are strictly bodyguards and representatives of their tribes. Okoye first appeared in 1998’s Black Panther #1 by Christopher Priest. The same book introduced the very concept of the Dora Milaje, which has gone on to become a core part of the Black Panther’s mythology.
Played by Michael B. Jordan, we see Erik Killmonger a number of times throughout the trailer. Whether in his ornate mask or staring down his foes, Killmonger is the central villain of the film and will be going toe-to-toe with T’Challa and his friends a number of times.
In the comics, Killmonger debuted in Jungle Action #6 way back in 1973. Originally a Wakandan named N’Jadaka, the Killmonger family was exiled after their patriarch sided with Klaw in an attack on the nation. Over the years, Killmonger studied both technology and Wakanda, gaining skills in combat and weaponry and fueling his hatred of the ruling class of his former home. Given the shots we see in the trailer, Killmonger will likely follow a similar trajectory in the new film.
Following the introduction to Wakanda, we see T’Challa undergoing a massive ceremony presided over by Forrest Whitaker. In the film, he’s be playing Zuri, an uncle of T’Challa’s and the spiritual leader of Wakanda.
In the comics, Zuri was created by Priest in his 1998 run of Black Panther. A war veteran, he was a loyal ally of King T’Chaka before occupying a similar role for T’Challa. Though this could still be part of his past, the movies look to be removing him as a warrior and setting him up as more of a priest.
Played by Lupita Nyong’o, Nakia is another central member of the Dora Milaje. Debuting alongside Okoye and Zuri in Priest's’ Black Panther #1, Nakia has a bit more of a complicated legacy than her fellow Adored Ones.
After being kidnapped and tortured by the supervillain Achebe, Nakia is saved by Killmonger. Not only that, but he imbues her with special powers, giving her the name Malice and bringing her into his inner circle. She fights against T’Challa a number of times, teaming with a variety of his enemies on various occasions.
In the trailer, we see Nakia siding with T’Challa’s family in a few different situations, so this bit of her backstory may be abandoned. Then again, we could see the seeds of her betrayal planted at some point in the movie in order to set up the film’s sequel.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) release date: May 05, 2017
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) release date: Jul 07, 2017
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017) release date: Nov 03, 2017
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019