Mustachioed crusader Stan Lee and legendary penciler Jack Kirby created Black Panther (real name: T’Challa) back in 1966. His first appearance was Fantastic Four #52 and he has the distinction of being one of the first black superhero in comics. The Black Panther paved that rocky road for the likes of Luke Cage, Misty Knight, War Machine, John Stewart Green Lantern, among a few others.
The Black Panther will make his cinematic debut in Captain America: Civil War. You can catch a glimpse of him in the recently released Civil War trailer; seeing him drop kick The Winter Soldier. Now thanks to a spread in today’s EW an even better look of the character, and his fierce looking costume, can be examined in full; along with a whole lot of details from actor Chadwick Boseman, Co-director Anthony Russo and producer Nate Moore.
The new image comes from EW who revealed their Captain America: Civil War cover issue imagery earlier in the day (above) which featured Black Panther (Boseman) standing appropriately in between Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Side Note: was it really necessary for EW to ad “Meow” on the cover hovering as a voice bubble above Black Panthers head; and the housewife comment? Way to emasculate the character. Not funny, guys.
Here’s the up close look at Black Panther from inside the issue:
Coupled with the new photo are interview excerpts from actor Chadwick Boseman:
“He’s definitely not the life of the party in this instance,” Boseman tells EW. “I think this is something true of the comic book character and the movie. You never quite know where he stands. There’s always a bit of concealing and mystery. So I think mysterious is more his boat. Not to say there’s not charm and he can’t be a ladies’ man and all that. It’s more like if there is humor, it’s more like James Bond.”
“There definitely is a sort of tradition that he’s torn between, in terms of how things were done in the past and how things need to happen now in this new world,” Boseman says. “I think there’s perhaps a bit of a maverick there, and then there’s also a need to live up to traditions and his father’s legacy. And not even his father’s legacy, but the entire nation of Wakanda. I think those are the things you will see.”
To elaborate on Boseman’s comments, it might be helpful to to know your comic lore. For those unfamiliar with who this guy is *clears throat* – The Black Panther character is also known as king T’Challa of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. Wakanda is famous for being the only place on Earth where the nigh indestructible metal vibranium is mined. It comes from a large meteorite that hit the country some decades agao, and was covetously protected by Black Panthers ever since. Vibranium has even been addressed several times in Marvel films, as it’s what Captain America’s shield is made of, as well as The Visions entire body (see Age of Ultron). Despite his royal stature, the precious metal cultivation also makes T’Challa phenomenally rich. The Black Panther title is an inherited one bestowed unto the descendant who proves himself/herself worthy.
He’s got a genius-level intellect and sweet detective skills, making him the African Batman. He’s got a PHD in Physics from Oxford University and is considered one of the 8 smartest people on the planet. Being the Black Panther has awarded T’Challa awesome mystical powers. Upon eating a special, rare herb, he was granted enhanced abilities. His reflexes, speed, strength, agility and endurance were heightened to near-superhuman levels. His senses were increased to incredible acuteness, making him an exceptional tracker. He is a skilled hunter, strategist, politician and inventor, with access to his entire country’s most advanced military weaponry and resources. The guy is a rigorously trained gymnast and master of various martial arts.
So… bad-ass, right? Plus, he’s got a wicked cool costume. All black with sharp finger talons and recussive body armor. Speaking of the costume, fans might take umbrage with how the movie version differs from the more cloth-like appearance in the comics . To which, Co-director Anthony Russo says:
“Panther is a cool character and he has a toughness, and a sort of intimidation factor with his costume. We’re experimenting with how the light catches the costume… It’s like medieval chain mail, woven extremely thin. It’s not comparable to any other costumes in the universe.”
More on the costume and its Vibranium properties, comes more words/insight from Chadwick Boseman:
“As far as the storytelling is concerned, the vibranium is a metal that is dynamic. It can change how it’s used. It’s not a liquid, but it has the ability to change shape and change form and still have its strength. I think there a lot of things about that in the mythology that I think has a lot of potential in terms of the storytelling… It’s not just about being durable, it has the ability to absorb energy. It’s not just like you hit it and it doesn’t take it. It has the ability to absorb the attack of another person and repel or respond to that attack. That’s part of the power.”
So basically, he’s a walking Captain America shield with Ninja skills. Did I mention he was a bad-ass?
Now, as to what importance Black Panther plays to the sweeping story which leads to hero on hero violence – his story is uncertain at this time but he will definitely be a catalyst for something more than another costumed good guy taking sides. But that doesn’t mean he won’t get caught up in the shenanigans of the Civil War either.
Executive producer Nate Moore teases that Black Panther’s role will see him potentially on both sides of the larger conflict:
“He’s someone who hasn’t necessarily made up his mind about either side and whose agenda isn’t exactly what Cap’s agenda or what Tony’s agenda is. And I think that brings him into conflict weirdly with both characters at different times in the film. He is the prince of an African nation that has so far stayed very much sort of in the shadows. And eventually the film will draw him and his father out of the shadows.”
While the Civil War trailer made things seem like the Tony and Captain America show, it seems there is far more than meets the eye… and Black Panther will be at the center of it all.
Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War finds Steve Rogers leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. But after another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps—one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability. Get ready to pick a side and join the nonstop action playing out on two fronts when Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War opens in U.S. theaters on May.
Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016.