It’s going to be a good year for Marvel’s Black Panther. Not only is he getting an extremely promising new comic book series, in a few months he’s making his Marvel cinematic universe debut in Captain America: Civil War. If you’re not familiar with the superhero, king and Avenger, here’s your primer.
1. Director Ryan Coogler assembled an All-Star cast
In addition to Boseman, Angela Bassett, Sterling K. Brown, Winston Duke, Martin Freeman, Danai Gurira, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Lupita Nyong’o, Phylicia Rashad, Andy Serkis, Forest Whitaker and Letitia Wright make up the ensemble cast. And don’t be surprised if at least one other character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe pops up. After all, Black Panther will be part of Avengers: Infinity War, premiering just two months later May 4, 2018.
2) He was the first black superhero in mainstream comics
Although there were black heroes before him, back when Marvel was still Timely Comics in the ’50s, it published stories about “Waku, Prince of the Bantu” in Jungle Tales, Black Panther is widely credited as the first black superhero to debut in mainstream comics. Although he first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 in April 1966, T’Challa wouldn’t actually star in his own comic book until 1973, when he headlined Jungle Action, another jungle-themed anthology that stretched back into Marvel’s history when it was Atlas Comics (the company went through multiple name changes in the ’40s and ’50s).
3) He’s royalty
T’Challa’s life is dominated by legacy. Not only is the Black Panther role a hereditary title passed down throughout his family (although rigorous mental and physical tests have to be passed before one can assume it), he’s also from the ruling family of the Panther Tribe, who govern the independent African nation of Wakanda. T’Challa earned both the right to rule and the Black Panther persona (as well as the powers that come with it, gained from eating a mysterious plant poisonous to many non-Wakandans) from his father, T’Chaka.
4) He is essentially Marvel’s answer to Batman
5) He and Storm were once the ultimate Marvel power couple
T’Challa and Ororo Munroe are two of the most prominent black characters in Marvel’s roster, and their 2006 marriage was such a huge deal, Tony Stark and Steve Rogers took a break from fighting each other in the comic Civil War event to celebrate it.
Fans loved the characters together, but the marriage wouldn’t last. In a controversial move, their relationship was annulled in 2012 when Black Panther banned all mutants from Wakanda following an attack by a brainwashed Namor the Sub-Mariner. Many assumed the couple’s split was because there were plans underway to bring T’Challa to the Marvel’s cinematic universe, where he couldn’t bring his wife—Storm being part of Foz’s X-Men movie rights.
6) He’s currently helping solve the biggest problems to the Marvel Universe
Their first story saw them manage to turn Galactus into a life-giving cosmic force rather than a planet-devourer, so they’re pretty dang good at what they do. Black Panther is a big part of that.
7) There is no sequel planned…yet
Marvel Studios has several films in the pipeline after Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, including Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 6, 2018), Captain Marvel (March 8, 2019) and an untitled Avengers film (May 3, 2019). Once Phase Three is over, two other movies—Spider-Man: Homecoming 2 (July 5, 2019) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (TBA)—have been announced. Beyond that, the film studio has not announced which—if any!—of its franchises will continue.
8) The movie is set in the fictional nation of Wakanda
Good luck finding Wakanda on a map—it doesn’t exist. To the uninitiated, the imagined African nation was created in 1966 along with the titular character. Principal production on the movie began on Jan. 21, 2017 at EUE/Screen Gems Studios and Pinewood Atlanta Studios. Additional filming took place throughout South Korea. Filming ended after three months on Apr. 19, 2017.
9) Black Panther has been in development since 1992
Wesley Snipes announced his intention to develop and star in a movie based on the comic book character 25 years ago. Various delays, ranging from script issues to Snipes’ involvement in the Blade series, plagued the project until it was shelved indefinitely. At long last, in October 2014, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige announced Black Panther would be released on Nov. 3, 2017, with Boseman in the leading role; the release date was later pushed back three months.
10) You really should be excited for his new comic !
If you were looking for a Black Panther comic to read up on before Civil War came out, there isn’t one at the moment—but there will be soon. It’s coming from a ridiculously exciting creative team, artist Brian Stelfreeze and writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, this April.
Coates, best known for his work across dozens of publications as America’s foremost commentator on African-American culture in the modern day, will open the series with an arc that delves into T’Challa’s rule over Wakanda as the country comes under attack from superpowered terrorists. Given Coates’ background (this is his first writing gig for a comic), it’s hard not to look forward to what he can do with the legacy of a character like Black Panther. Just in time for you to pick up an issue or two before you go see Civil War!