When Iron Man first struck gold at the box office five years ago, launching Marvel Studios into the Disney-owned juggernaut it is today, comic book creators, producers and Marvel executives were able to freely share their seemingly limitless desires to bring all sorts of characters from the Marvel library of thousands to the big screen.
In addition to the core characters featured in The Avengers, others including Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and Black Panther were on their way to becoming a reality with screenplays in development. Some of those are officially part of Marvel Studios long-term plans, others, like Black Panther are seemingly not. But three weeks ago, actor Morris Chestnut let slip that he was reading up on Black Panther comics before erasing the remarks, and that might be because Marvel Studios is actively searching for an actor to play T'Challa in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Yes, Black Panther may actually be in the cards, finally. Latino-Review has the scoop that Chadwick Boseman, the star of current box office hit 42, is leading the Marvel's shortlist of actors who could play Black Panther. Playing Jackie Robinson in 42 was Boseman's breakout role after working a variety of TV gigs with many key guest appearances on series including Fringe, Justified and Castle.
Black Panther is an extremely important Marvel character and represents the first black superhero in comics. If Marvel is in fact looking to cast T'Challa, it's great news for fans who after hearing time and time again that other obscure characters were getting an introduction on the big screen (Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy), heard of no movement on the Black Panther project outside of another script in the works two years ago.
Black Panther, a character with superhuman physical attributes and senses, already has his fingerprints all over the film franchise. Captain America's iconic shield for instance, is made of a material called Vibranium which is only found in the fictional African nation of Wakanda, where Black Panther originates from and rules over as its King. The rare and valuable commodity came from a meteor that crashed in the land and to protect it and their society, the small but advanced nation is intentionally kept secret from the outside world. The Black Panther costume is also augmented with vibranium armor and claws.
Even the S.H.I.E.L.D. Quinjets that played a prominent role in The Avengers (and return in Captain America: The Winter Soldier) are designed and made by the Wakanda Design Group, also run by Black Panther. Whether or not the films connect those dots in the future is secondary to the fact that Black Panther may finally show up in Phase Two or, alongside Ant-Man and Doctor Strange who already have confirmed films for Phase Three.
If Marvel is aiming to cast the character now, Black Panther may very well factor into Joss Whedon's Phase Two within the next two years. Perhaps he joins the team or cameos in The Avengers 2 or earlier, in The Winter Soldier - which just began production two weeks ago. Joss Whedon was actively informing media during the Iron Man 3 world premiere last Wednesday there there's a pair of new characters joining The Avengers 2 who he described as a "brother-sister act" and maybe he's throwing everyone for a spin. Or maybe, there are even more characters we didn't anticipate.
We wouldn't be surprise to see Black Panther or Wakanda to show up in the flashback sequences of Captain America: The Winter Soldier since in the comics - despite being revised twice - Captain America met a leader of Wakanda and the encounter played a critical role in the acquisition of vibranium and the inspiration for Cap's circular shield.
Who should play the older Black Panther known as T'Chaka and where will the T'Challa first be introduced? Let the speculation begin!
Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on November 6, 2015, and Doctor Strange sometime after that.
Let me know on Twitter @rob_keyes if you want a Black Panther film in Phase Three!