A few months ago, Kevin Feige stated that Marvel Studios had been listening to fans' requests for a Black Panther adaptation and everyone from Stan Lee to Denzel Washington have weighed in on the project's impending confirmation, but now we know for sure that it's happening. Today, Feige revealed the studio's entire Phase 3 slate at a major event, which includes the eagerly anticipated solo vehicle for the King of Wakanda, giving Marvel some much-needed diversity in its superhero lineup.
Marvel also announced that Chadwick Boseman (42) will be bringing T'Challa to life, and the actor even appeared on-stage with Robert Downey, Jr. and Chris Evans to mark the occasion. During the event, Feige stated that the character will debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2016's Captain America: Civil War, but now we know the extent of Boseman's contract with the studio.
Deadline is reporting that the actor is locked in for five films with Marvel; a deal that starts with that aforementioned Captain America 3 role and runs through Phase 3. Obviously, Black Panther will also be one of the movies Boseman appears in, leaving three unknowns for fans to speculate about.
It was only a couple of days ago Feige was teasing the roster overhaul the Avengers roster would see following the events of Age of Ultron. With the Black Panther set to be a main figure in cinematic universe for years to come, it stands reason to believe that Boseman will be heavily featured in the two parts of The Avengers: Infinity War, fighting alongside Earth's Mightiest just like the character did on the comic pages.
With this development, it illustrates that Wakanda is going to be a big part of the MCU throughout Phase 3. There have been little hints sprinkled in the films that have been released so far, such as Captain America's shield being made of vibranium (a metal native to the fictional nation) and Andy Serkis looking suspiciously like Ulysses Klaw (a villain known for fighting Black Panther) in the recently released Age of Ultron trailer.
The other interesting tidbit here is that Boseman's tenure in the MCU will begin not in his own solo film, but a sequel to an established franchise. To date, Marvel has introduced their heroes in standalone flicks before crossing them over with other characters, but this will mark the first time that a title hero will lead his/her own movie after their cinematic debut.
From a business perspective, this does make a lot of sense. When compared to Iron Man and Captain America, Black Panther ranks among the "third-tier" properties that Marvel is looking to launch following the tremendous success of Guardians of the Galaxy.
Introducing the character in a film that is all but a lock to gross a billion dollars is a smart way to have him gain wide exposure amongst moviegoers, familiarizing audiences with Black Panther and what he's all about. Theoretically, Boseman will be well-received in the role, which will only lead to more box office profits when Black Panther hits theaters.
As for the chances of that happening, we'd have to say they're pretty strong right now. The Marvel brand is recognizable enough to turn zany oddballs like Rocket Raccoon and Groot into international superstars, meaning that moviegoers have shown they'll accept just about anything from Feige and company. Boseman himself looks like a worthy addition to the MCU, having shined several times during his career in character roles on TV and in films such as Get on Up. He's demonstrated a plethora of talents and should be more than capable of making a memorable King of Wakanda.
Black Panther has been something that Marvel fans have been clamoring for the last several years. There should be many pleased viewers with the development that the character will be a key member of the MCU for the next handful of years. For a variety of reasons, it's been a long time coming. Let's hope the wait was worth it.
Black Panther will hit theaters on November 3, 2017.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.
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