According to Chadwick Boseman, there's a good reason his character doesn't have a secret identity in Black Panther. From T'Challa's debut in Captain America: Civil War, it was clear that the Black Panther wasn't a traditional superhero. Rather than put on a costume to fight crime and save the world, T'Challa's moniker and mantle are part of a lineage that's tied specifically to the protection of his kingdom. And while his duties sometimes take him abroad, his home remains his primary concern.
In some ways, Black Panther as a character mirrors the arcs of heroes like Thor and Iron Fist. Their job is to protect their home and serve it in a variety of different ways. As such, there's really no sense in T'Challa hiding that he and the Black Panther are one and the same.
While appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to discuss his film Marshall, Boseman was asked by the comic-loving host why he thinks Black Panther doesn't need a secret identity like Batman or Superman. As the actor explains in the video above, the Black Panther is more of a title than anything, and his mask and suit are designed to inspire awe and fear.
In the comics, the Black Panther is the title held by the king of Wakanda. Civil War, however, makes it clear that T'Challa has been operating as the Panther while his father remains king. That all will change for Black Panther, though, when T'Challa find himself in both roles.
Along with being the protector and king of Wakanda, Black Panther has long served as the embodiment of his nation. His connection to his predecessors and the supernatural elements of Wakanda also make him a sort of spiritual leader. And given his genius and Wakanda's advanced technology, he is often sought after for his expertise. Considering all of these elements, it's clear that T'Challa ceases to be as an individual when he assumes the mantle of Black Panther. Instead, the two identities are one and the same.
Of course, the MCU has largely dispensed with the idea of secret identities. Aside from Spider-Man, the Avengers operate with a fair amount of transparency when it comes to who they are. When Iron Man ended with Tony Stark declaring he was the Armored Avenger, it was a statement of intent for the MCU that the nonsensical nature of secret identities was a thing of the past. Even Spider-Man: Homecoming subverted the trope by having multiple main characters learn Peter's secret. So while T'Challa may not be a secret identity for Wakanda's king, the multiple roles Boseman will have to inhabit will be central to Black Panther.
Source: Jimmy Kimmel Live!
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017) release date: Nov 03, 2017
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Untitled Avengers Movie (2019) release date: May 03, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019