Phase two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will draw to a close with Ant-Man, setting the stage for Captain America: Civil War and the rest of Phase three. While the events in Ant-Man and their repercussions aren't fully known, we know that there's an upcoming split between two Avengers figureheads: Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man and Chris Evans' Captain America.
Seemingly stuck in the middle of that conflict is Prince T'Challa of Wakanda (also known as Black Panther), portrayed by Chadwick Boseman. The character is set to star in a standalone Marvel film in 2018, but will be debuting next year in Captain America: Civil War. There's been some speculation as to how T'Challa comes to be a part of the conflict, but so far nothing concrete. However, Marvel Studios president of production Kevin Feige has now dropped more hints about the character's involvement in the film.
Feige talked with Birth.Movies.Death about the reason for including Black Panther in Civil War, rather than waiting for his standalone movie. While there was some speculation that the character would adopt Peter Parker's role from the Civil War comic, Feige says it's about new perspectives.
"The reason we introduced him in Civil War is because we needed a third party. We needed fresh eyes who wasn't embedded with the Avengers and who has a very different point of view than either [Iron Man] or [Captain America]. We said, 'We need somebody like Black Panther... why don't we just use Black Panther?' That's how it went in the development process."
Black Panther is unique in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in that his superhero identity goes hand in hand with his royal position in Wakanda. The mantle is passed down through the royal bloodline, each ruler protecting their people both through isolationist governing and as a masked warrior. As such, the character exists as an icon in Wakanda, even though Feige says T'Challa is new to the role.
"It is a role that he is still in the beginning phases of taking on. It's a mantle he is only beginning to take on because his father is older."
Feige went on to detail why Black Panther might break Wakanda's policy of isolation and venture into the surrounding world
"Today, pre-Civil War, post-Ultron I think he and his father are saying, 'A bunch of vibranium just got out of here and wreaked a lot of havoc. Maybe we can't stay behind these borders anymore, maybe we have to stick our heads out and make at least an attempt to be a part of the rest of the world right now, while at the same time protecting our people.' That's sort of where we meet him in Civil War."
Black Panther may be new to Marvel's Cinematic Universe, but he has the potential to play a crucial role in the upcoming Civil War. Wakanda is the sole source of the metal Vibranium, the same metal used to construct Captain America's shield and Ultron's armored body. As the only source of the precious metal, in addition to being the ruler of the most scientifically advanced city on the planet, T'Challa will be a powerful ally to whichever side he joins.
Ant-Man opens in theaters July 17, 2015; Captain America: Civil War – May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man reboot – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Black Panther – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019.