NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for Black Panther
The launch of Marvel’s Black Panther means the start of a new era in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and a whole lot more Easter eggs and franchise connections. The minds behind Marvel’s biggest blockbusters have made their geek cred known, and even before Black Panther‘s post-credits scenes, the movie is filled with extended universe nods, cameos, shared universe connections and comic book references.
Naturally, this list is packed full of spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet and don’t want to be spoiled: click away!
Director Ryan Coogler had a chance to pay homage to more than just comics with Black Panther, and the hero’s connections to Africa, Oakland, and Black America are all on display. We’ve done our best to collect some of the subtlest, coolest, and most exciting Black Panther Easter eggs, secret backstories, references, and tiny details that most fans might miss.
With one final SPOILER warning, let’s get started. Here are the 30 Things You Completely Missed In Black Panther.
30. Killmonger’s Mask
One of the most striking costumes to steal the spotlight in early Black Panther trailers didn’t belong to T’Challa, but to Erik Stevens, also known as “Killmonger.” A tribal mask, to be specific – and one that has some serious comic book connections.
Erik playfully suggests a wink to the comic fans by showing particular interest in the large, horned, hair-rimmed mask. Then later when he wears it to help break Klaue out of custody (explaining that he’s “feeling it” for a reason he can’t quite explain).
The mask is actually a clever throwback to not one, but TWO different comic designs. The first, and perhaps most obvious is the design for the demon Mephisto in Christopher Priest’s well-known run on the Black Panther comic.
29. Man-Ape… Minus The Name
Adapting a superhero born of the black exploitation period always has its challenges, and with Black Panther‘s cast of comic book heroes and villains, few were more obvious than “Man-Ape,” leader of a rival clan of gorilla-worshiping warriors.
In the comics, Man-Ape dressed up in a gorilla suit, physically embodying the white gorilla deity of his tribe. In the movie, the character is portrayed in a far less racially charged or problematic light as M’Baku (played by Winston Duke).
Getting rid of the name Man-Ape for Black Panther was an easy choice to make, but the movie still honors his comic roots. The thick fur on M’Baku’s shoulders and forearms along with attached armor exaggerate the upper body in a similar way.
28. The Stan Lee Cameo
A new Marvel movie calls for a new cameo from Marvel legend Stan Lee. And after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 revealed Stan Lee’s role in the MCU, his Black Panther appearance confirms the Wakandan king is still on the Watcher’s radar.
Audiences don’t have to look for Lee anywhere in the African nation of Wakanda (that might stick out a little too much, even for a Marvel movie).
Instead, Lee shows up shortly before the large chase sequence in Busan, South Korea. In less honorable means than usual, too, after T’Challa places a bet on a roulette game in progress. It’s all for show, of course, and T’Challa has little need for the winnings.
27. Shuri Drops a Vine Joke
For all his impressive combat skills and intellect in Civil War, the Black Panther movie introduces the REAL brains behind his operation: Shuri, his sister (Letitia Wright).
But brilliant an inventor as Shuri may be, she is still just sixteen years old in the fiction of the film. And as a result, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that she fits in a hard-to-miss Vine meme. Wakanda has the same Internet as anyone else.
The reference comes when Shuri first takes note of T’Challa’s sandals. Getting overt with her distaste for the footwear, she gives her brother a boisterous “What are thoooose?!”
26. Black Panther’s Back to The Future Footwear
Shuri doesn’t just deliver wicked slams to her brother’s choice of footwear, but offers a much better, much cooler alternative. Not only are the shoes she’s crafted for T’Challa an uopgrade to cut down on the sounds of his footsteps… they fit like a second skin.
That’s the same technology that’s ultimately used for the rest of the Black Panther suit, but the shoes get called out specifically. The idea for the shoes – which automatically fit themselves to the wearer’s feet – apparently came from an American movie, of all places.
The movie isn’t referred to by name, but for any movie fan of the 1980s and 1990s the reference to Back to the Future Part II and its futuristic Nikes is hard to miss.
25. Gold Necklace Callback
With early trailers and footage showing off Black Panther’s brand new armor, fans had plenty of time to dissect the tech, and how the typical “suit” would be a bit more advanced than just fabric or spandex.
We suspected that Black Panther’s suit spread out of his necklace, and the nanotechnology of the movie confirms that’s the exact delivery method. Of course, this is a king we’re talking about… meaning he gets to choose between two different designs.
Civil War‘s emphasis on vibranium established T’Challa’s colors as black and silver, which is the necklace he chooses (also noting that it’s a bit more… inconspicuous than the gold counterpart).
The gold necklace is eventually worn by Erik, but its the design that’s the real Easter egg. Since the gold necklace is almost a perfect copy of the version Black Panther wore in Marvel’s comic books.
24. Shuri Gets ‘Another White Boy’ To Fix
Marvel movie fans may have met Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) in Civil War, but his arrival into the Black Panther story is a bit of a surprise. As the buyer for Klaue’s vibranium, he could be mistaken for an actual villain.
He proves himself to be one the heroes’ side when he takes a bullet for Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o). It earns him safe passage to Wakanda, along with the technology needed to save his spine and heal him completely.
Or, as Shuri puts it, he becomes “another white boy” for her to fix. While it isn’t spelled out in the movie’s runtime, the other “white boy” she’s referring to is James “Bucky” Barnes, left in her custody by Captain America himself.
And fixed he is, thanks to Shuri’s genius. A comic book prequel to Infinity War showed how Bucky is rebooted for his MCU return.
23. Klaue’s Arm Cannon Finally Arrives
Ulysses Klaue’s (Andy Serkis) nefarious dealings with vibranium are what he’s most famous for in terms of comic book plots and origin stories, but let’s be honest: it’s his sonic blaster arm that fans really remember (taking up the space where his left arm should be).
His Wakanda expertise justified his role as a vibranium dealer in Avengers: Age of Ultron. But when the titular villain lost his temper and sliced off Klaue’s arm, comic fans knew how it would soon be replaced.
In Black Panther comes the payoff, with Klaue finally getting to unleash his prosthetic arm-disguised cannon. He even explains that it is based off of a bit of Wakandan sonic mining equipment – a step towards explaining the sonic cannon that it was in the comics.
22. Black Panther Wrestles a Rhino
It isn’t just humans, superhumans, or sonic-weapon-armed villains that Black Panther gets to fight in his first solo movie, but some overpowered wildlife, as well. Which gives an opportunity to pay homage to another incredible moment in Black Panther’s earliest comics – making a fight with a charging rhino even cooler.
The rhinos don’t show up until the movie’s big battle, launched into combat by W’Kabi (daniel Kaluuya). The decision to use rhinos in warfare may be a bit too ‘fantastic’ for some viewers, but it gives T’Challa a chance to get even more acrobatic than usual.
His efforts to bring down a rhino are a callback to his very first story arc, “Panther’s Rage” in the pages of Jungle Action comics. The story set T’Challa up against Erik Killmonger in more than one way that mirrors the big screen adaptation, but his battle with a rhino is a challenge all its own.
Still, it’s a hard scene to forget. And props go to the effects team under Coogler for recreating his grasp on the rhino with fantastic accuracy. Thankfully the rhino’s fate in the comics isn’t adapted, as well.
21. Black Panther’s Waterfall ‘Death’
Sure, it may be ‘all the rage’ these days to kill off your title superhero only to stun audiences with their miraculous return. But in the case of Black Panther, it’s a story beat pulled from the same “Panther’s Rage” series by writer Don McGregor.
It may feel a bit like an Arrow misdirection when Erik actually beats T’Challa in combat, and throws his body over a nearby waterfall, but… that’s how it happened in the comics, too. Minus Erik’s attack leopard.
The movie version of T’Challa survives with the help of friendly tribes and hidden allies, which is more support than the comic version actually gets. But if nothing else, what the scene DOES capture from the original run-in between Panther and Erik is played perfectly faithful.
20. The Live-Action Black Leopard?
The golden necklace capable of deploying the entire Black Panther suit comes back to bite T’Challa and his sister (pun intended). When Erik defeats T’Challa in his challenge for the throne of Wakanda, the suit is rightfully his. But it has some important differences.
The most obvious of these changes is the color, shifting from the deep purple of the Panther to a more fiery gold. It’s true that the color matches the villain’s comic book look in some sense, but the real treat for fans is the spots scattered across his version of the armor.
Take it as two playful references in one for fans who know their Black Panther history. For starters, it folds Black Panther’s name change into its own story – showing an actual Black Leopard, spots and all, but not simply renamed to distance the Marvel hero from the political party.
19. Wakanda’s “Mount Bashenga”
It doesn’t take long for the audience to realize that T’Challa’s sister is as smart as Tony Stark, and apparently knocking on the doors of as many scientific breakthroughs, if not even more. In the MCU, a brilliant mind needs a cutting edge lab to match, and Wakanda has plenty to choose from.
Still, the daughter of the former king doesn’t choose any lab to do her work: she makes herself home deep in the minerals that make up “Mount Bashenga.” A key feature of Wakanda’s landscape, and one that seems to play a far larger role in the vibranium story than this film actually reveals.
The name is no coincidence, but a reference to Bashenga, the very first King of Wakanda who was blessed with the powers and mantle of the Black Panther by the goddess Bast herself.
It happened over 1,000,000 in the past to protect mankind from other mad gods. The film has enough mythology to get across in its own story, so fans can find the origin of Bashenga in the pages of Marvel Comics.
18. Black Panther’s Moonlight Cameo
It’s no secret that Black Panther marks one of the most visible blockbuster films for Black actors and actresses yet seen in the rise of the superhero universe. In the months leading up to the announcement that Ryan Coogler would lead the charge, it was clear Marvel Studios wanted to make good on the opportunity to do the same for Black directors, too.
The Black Panther movie was first discussed with Ava DuVernay, who moved on to A Wrinkle in Time instead. But the friendship shared between Coogler and DuVernay has been spoken of with pride by both directors, who edited their respective films across a hallway from eachother.
Ryan Coogler also praised director Barry Jenkins – fresh off his Oscar win for Moonlight – as a supportive voice when needed. And in the final scenes of Black Panther, pays homage to Jenkins’ indirectly.
17. Black Panther, Oakland Proud
With trailers promising to take audiences into the technologically-advanced world of Wakanda, and through the African jungles that surround and conceal it, they’re in for an early surprise. The story of Black Panther actually begins in Oakland, California.
Curious fans might look up director Ryan Coogler and assume that this twist on Erik’s origins is a nod to his hometown – and they wouldn’t be wrong (it also served as the setting of Coogler and Jordan’s Fruitvale Station).
But the connection of the Black Panther superhero to the city bears a much stronger link. Because Oakland is also the birthplace of the Black Panther political party, founded in 1966 (just weeks after the Marvel character).
That shared moniker actually led Marvel to temporarily change T’Challa’s hero name, but it switched back – and the not-so-subtle political affiliation has continued ever since. Now, into the MCU as well.
16. Black Panther/Public Enemy Connection
Director Ryan Coogler takes full advantage of the history and meaning in Black Panther, both the hero and the political party that made the term just as famous. And starting this story in Oakland is just the beginning.
There aren’t overt nods to the Black Panther Party since the film’s Oakland action is set in 1992. But that makes it a perfect time for N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown) to channel the hip hop descendants of that same philosophy.
Public Enemy made its connection to the Black Panther Party clear not only in their lyrics, but their clothes. The members of the group and even their backup dancers sported the leather jackets and hats made famous by the Panther Party.
15. The Son of The King (in Real Life)
The solo Black Panther movie follows T’Challa as he fully adopts the rule of Wakanda and mantle of their protetor. But that journey began in Captain America: Civil War, with the death of his father T’Chaka.
Audiences only had one scene to get to know the late king, played by South African actor John Kani, before he was assassinated. In this film his role is expanded upon, albeit in a sequence set decades earlier.
That young T’Chaka may seem closer to his older counterpart than is usually possible, and it’s for a good reason. The role is played by actor Atandwa Kani, John’s son.
Even weirder is that the younger version of Zuri (Forest Whitaker) is played by Denzel Whitaker. He’s not Forest’s son, but he’s played that part onscreen in The Great Debaters… opposite Denzel Washington.
14. Bucky Returns as The White Wolf?
The final post-credits scene of Black Panther will be the one to get fans talking (about the future of the MCU’s plot, specifically). Showing James “Bucky” Barnes alive, well, and awake in Wakanda after being put into a deep freeze at the end of Captain America: Civil War.
The surprise of the return was somewhat spoiled by Bucky’s presence in Infinity War‘s trailers, showing that he clearly woke up, and was once again on the side of the heroes. But there’s more to the scene than just that reveal.
A prequel comic set between Civil War‘s ending and the start of Infinity War confirm that Shuri cures Bucky of his brainwashing, allowing him to wake up as the man he used to be (that’s the plan, anyway).
But the moment that Bucky is called “White Wolf” may carry a greater meaning. It’s the name given to an outsider left stranded in Wakanda, and eventually raised to be T’Challa’s most trusted soldier…
13. The Pan-African Flag Colors
When the hero trio of T’Challa, Nakia, and Okoye head to a South Korean casino to capture Ulysses Klaue, some fans may mistake the set for the same one used in Skyfall.
The locations (set in Macau and Busan) are different, but fans should be paying closer attention to the wardrobe than the backdrop. And not just because all three stars deliver head-turning looks thanks to costume designer Ruth E. Carter.
The subtle detail most will miss is that in the entire scene, no other characters or extras are dressed in red or green – letting Nakia and Okoye stand out, despite their best intentions to blend in.
12. The Details in Wakanda’s Culture & Costumes
With so much color and originality in the costumes and overall design of Wakanda, fans may have a hard time picking out specifics at all. But there’s no question that research into African cultures, clothing, and tradition will reward those who analyze Black Panther frame by frame.
Costume designer Ruth Carter and Marvel Studios Senior Visual Development Artist Anthony Francisco had some of the most difficult tasks. In short, design an African culture that is both informed by and inspired other African nations, but was never colonized and therefore allowed to change into modern times.
The result is seen in every character, down to the almost-invisible triangles and patterns in black on T’Challa’s superhero suit. The soldiers of the Dora Milaje are another example, incorporating designs recognizable in the Himba of Namibia, the Masai of Kenya, the Ndebele of South Africa, and more, Carter explained in an interview with NPR. But the influences don’t end there.
Concept artist Anthony Francisco (whose work is above) worked on building those same designs into costume concepts. And working in his own Filipino heritage as well, from the bead designs to the small golden rings/trinkets Okoye has tied at her waist for luck.
11. Killmonger’s Costume Has a Dragon Ball Connection?
Throughout most of Black Panther‘s marketing, fans focused much of their attention on the Black Panther/Leopard armor Killmonger claimed after taking the throne of Wakanda. His costume before defeating T’Challa? Well, it seemed to be a standard bit of mercenary body armor. Body armor that seemed… familiar somehow.
Only after the film was released, and fans recalled actor Michael B. Jordan’s love of all things geek culture (having grown up reading Black Panther comics) that the anime resemblance was finally understood. Killmonger’s armor definitely fits the Marvel aesthetic, but he’s channeling the spirit of an iconic anime villain. It turns out Erik Killmonger is a fan of Vegeta, from the Dragon Ball franchise.
The armor looks closest to the later looks worn by the Saiyan royalty, specifically the one seen in the Dragon Ball manga (blue bodysuit, metal chest and stomach armor, and light yellow straps). It’s a connection that, once seen, is hard to ever unsee. The similarities don’t end there, either: both Killmonger and Vegeta are princes of a lost or hidden race. And both skirt the line between villain and antihero.
10. Shuri’s Hair is a Princess (Leia) Throwback
The technology created by T’Challa’s sister Shuri steals the spotlight for most of the movie, but fans haven’t seen anything yet. Not only is Shuri smarter than Tony Stark (she did get a bit of a head start) but with her addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she’s also a Disney princess… once removed.
That puts her in the same branch of the Disney family as Princess Leia of Star Wars fame – brought in by marriage (read: financial acquisition), but a Disney princess all the same. And that’s not all they have in common.
Shuri’s hair goes through a number of styles throughout the film, but when she’s first introduced – welcoming T’Challa home before he officially becomes King of Wakanda – her hair bears a familiar look.
9. Bucky’s Colors Hint at Captain America (Again)
From the moment that Captain America: The First Avenger hit theaters, rocketing Steve Rogers half a century into the future, fans had one question. It wasn’t whether or not Cap would work on film (that point was proven) but for how long. And when he hung up the shield… who would use it next?
Casual fans may assume that the Captain America brand means Steve Rogers has always held the title, aging no more than the typical comic character. But several other heroes have taken up the shield and name to continue his legacy – whether he was presumed dead, wounded, or had lost faith in his mission.
His former sidekick, Bucky, was among the most successful in the role. Which is why the Marvel minds have been teasing his promotion all along, contriving situations that put Cap’s shield into his hands. In Black Panther, they try something new.
8. Black Panther’s ‘All My Children’ Twist
Daytime soap operas may not share the same target audience or demographic as superhero blockbusters, but you would be surprised to learn how many Hollywood A-listers got their start on these daytime institutions (including Chris Hemsworth’s time on Neighbours and Home and Away).
You can add both of Black Panther‘s leading men to that list as well, but in an even weirder way than usual. Not only did Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan both land acting gigs on All My Children… they did it playing the same character.
That’s right: years before these two men were headlining one of the biggest superhero movies ever, they were playing the part of “Reggie Montgomery.” Well, the part was really Jordan’s, if history has to choose just one.
7. Erik Stevens/N’Jadaka/Killmonger
When word first broke that black Panther was getting his own movie, it went without saying that his most well-known nemesis would be adapted along with him. But even if his name isn’t as controversial or offensive as “Man-Ape,” the name ‘Erik Killmonger’ isn’t exactly subtle, either.
The filmmakers get around the issue by straying from the comics. Introduced as Erik Stevens, the lost child of Wakanda still possesses the same name in his homeland’s tongue – N’Jadaka. But a new story is cooked up for his kill-tacular nickname.
In the comics, Erik was exiled along with his entire family thanks to his father’s actions against T’Chaka (fueling his rage to take over the country as an adult). In the movie, his origin is changed to be that of another member of Wakanda’s royal family. Not fueled by rage or simple vengeance, but a legitimate claim to the throne.
It also grants him some of the inherent character and greatness of T’Challa and his father. Which explains why he became such a successful soldier. So successful, in fact, that it earned him a nickname among those he killed and killed beside… Killmonger. A nice touch, fans will have to admit.
6. Black Panther’s “Mercy” Line
The first example of why being the King of Wakanda isn’t just about revenge comes far from home, when T’Challa tracks down Ulysses Klaue in Busan, South Korea. The chase sequence is impressive, but more importantly, it’s a success. After decades on the run, the Black Panther has gotten his claws into Klaue.
The bad news is that the world is watching… so T’Challa must stay his hand. But even before he considers killing Klaue, T’Challa makes it known that he is the more powerful of the two: answering Klaue’s mocking plea for mercy by claiming that “every breath you take is mercy from me!”
It’s a memorable line, but it isn’t just from the movie. The quote is pulled from New Avengers #22 by Jonathan Hickman and Kev Walker, spoken by T’Challa to Namor before their fight goes to a brand new level.
5. Everett Ross May Connect To Captain Marvel
Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) may have been introduced as a typical CIA suit in Captain America: Civil War, but his role in Black Panther is far more promising. Where Everett once seemed willfully ignorant… he now is a certified ace pilot.
The reveal comes shortly after Ross wakes up, newly healed by Wakandan tech. To further emphasize just how far ahead Wakanda (and Shuri) is in terms of information, T’Challa’s sister already knows every bit of Everett’s file.
Apparently, he was a pilot before he joined up with the CIA. That detail is a creation specifically for the movie, and not the comics… and may be a hint at an Everett Ross/Captain Marvel movie connection.
4. Shout Out to Doctor Strange Sanctums?
After taking the throne of Wakanda, Killmonger doesn’t take long to launch his plan of arming Wakanda’s spies scattered around the world. And his weapons make it surprisingly close to being sent to cells ready to launch their attacks.
As it turns out, we know exactly which cells were the first to accept Killmonger’s plot to wage a war on the world and thereby conquer it. W’kabi informs Killmonger that when the orders were relayed to their War Dog spies, most were hesitant (understandably). But the forces held in reserve in New York, London, and Hong Kong are ready to attack.
Those cities should ring a bell for MCU fans, since they’re also the locations of Earth’s Sanctum Sanctorums in Doctor Strange. Three different cities, three different strongholds of mystical energy able to shield Earth from threats.
3. Another Human Torch Promotion
The strange coincidences of the superhero movie business continue, as Michael B. Jordan’s role in Black Panther puts him and Captain America in elite company. Jordan is the SECOND actor to have played Johnny Storm in a Fantastic Four film to later be drafted into Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.
It’s worth giving him extra credit for surviving an even more egregious blockbuster flop, and he’s open about Black Panther making up for his ‘Human Torch’ role. What’s even weirder is that the two characters actually have one thing – and only one thing in common, really, in the fiction of the movies themselves.
When Black Panther made his debut in Captain America: Civil War, he did it by fighting Steve Rogers, who stood between the African king and his father’s assassin. In his follow-up solo movie, Panther enters another battle of revenge with Killmonger. Two actors, two Human torches, both fighting Black Panther on the big screen. What are the odds?
2. Black Panther’s Crazy Credits
Those waiting around just to see Black Panther‘s credits scenes may overlook one of the best details from the filmmakers. Specifically, the team entrusted with the artwork and credits of the actual end titles.
Throughout the initial credits sequence, the starring cast is given a special color treatment respective to their tribe within Wakanda. Forest Whitaker’s name is shaded purple as a nod to both his robes and that of the heart-shaped herb he is entrusted with overseeing.
Lupita Nyong’o’s name is green, the color worn by her character and that of her River Tribe. Danai Gurira’s name is shaded red for that of the Dora Milaje. Daniel Kaluuya’s name is blue, for the color of the Border Trbie. And Winston Duke’s name is accompanied by a M’Baku-esque gorilla mask.
And pay attention for the imagery used to match each of the names, especially that of producer Kevin Feige. As the mastermind of Marvel Studios, it’s fitting his name is paired with a throne of its own.
1. Marvel Gives a Big Nod To Wales
The final scene before the United Nations puts the focus squarely on T’Challa, intercut with different scenes pertaining to the future of Wakanda, and its place on Earth. So fans could be forgiven for not taking a close look at the flags and nations on display in the chamber.
Positioned behind T’Challa are some of the typical flags one expects to see at the U.N…. but take a look at the extreme right of frame, and one flag may stand out. One composed of white and green stripes, with a large red dragon emblazoned on top of it.
For the unfamiliar, that’s the flag of Wales, a country located in the southwest of the island of Great Britain. As a part of the United Kingdom, it doesn’t actually make sense for the Welsh flag to be flown at Marvel’s version of the United Nations.
Apparently, the Marvel Universe is one in which Wales is a sovereign nation. When the flag was pointed out, a spokesperson for the Welsh government made the most of the nod, stating that “Wales continues to punch above it’s weight – a real life Marvel.
Those are all of the Black Panther Easter eggs, subtle secrets, cameos, and Marvel Cinematic Universe references that we could spot. Did you notice any others? Let us know in the comment section!
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