The History of Black Panther: Here's what you need to know about the Marvel superhero


For many reasons, Captain America: Civil War may very well go down as one of the more historic films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not only did Civil War successfully adapt one of the more iconic Marvel storylines, but the film introduced two new characters to the MCU. The first, Spider-Man, is easily one of the most popular characters in comics. The second, T'Challa, aka Black Panther, may not be as generally well known — but he sure is important.

In February 2018, T'Challa will return to the big screen in Black Panther, a film that's set to take place shortly after the events of Civil War. Only a few months later, Black Panther will suit up for Avengers: Infinity War, the culmination of the entire MCU to date. And with the character set to play such an important role in the future of the MCU, now seems like a pretty good time to delve a bit deeper into the history of the Wakandan king.

Here is what you need to know about Black Panther.

First black superhero

Marvel Entertainment

While popular comic book characters like Superman and Batman have been around since the late 1930s, there was not a black superhero in mainstream comics until the mid-'60s. Black Panther made his first appearance in 1966 in Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #52 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, making him the first black superhero from either Marvel or DC Comics.

Not long after, Marvel introduced popular black heroes like The Falcon/ Sam Wilson, Luke Cage/ Power Man, Blade/ Eric Books and Storm/ Ororo Munroe. Each of these heroes has since gone on to appear in film and television.

Sam Wilson is played by Anthony Mackie in the Captain America films; Mike Colter plays Luke Cage in the Marvel Netflix series; Wesley Snipes played the vampire hunter Blade in a trilogy of films; and Storm has been played by both Halle Berry and Alexandra Shipp in the X-Men films.

He's from Wakanda.


If Wakanda is not ringing any bells, do not fret, it is a fictional African country. But it is a country that plays a vital role in the Marvel universe. Wakanda is perhaps best known for its most valuable natural resource: Vibranium. Vibranium is an extremely rare and durable metal, and is the substance used to create Captain America's shield.

While Vibranium is not quite as strong as Adamantium, the metal that lines Wolverine's skeleton, it is the most durable metal in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (since Adamanitum likely belongs to 20th Century Fox, along with the X-Men). In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Vibranium was the metal Ultron used to construct his final body (in the comics, Ultron's body is usually made from Adamantium).

Much of Black Panther will likely take place in Wakanda, and could feature T'Challa trying to protect his country's resource from invaders like Ulysses Klaue, played in film by Andy Serkis.

Relationship with Storm


While Marvel's Cinematic Universe has been able to replicate a comic universe in a way probably most thought impossible, there are some elements from the pages that just can't be duplicated. When it comes to Black Panther, one important aspect of his history that fans likely will not see on the screen for some time is his relationship with the X-Men member Storm.

In many of the comics, Black Panther and Storm are married, presiding over Wakanda as king and queen. In film, this portrayal is simply not possible. While Marvel owns the film rights to most of its characters, Fox currently has hold of the X-Men and the team's heroes and villains. This includes characters like Wolverine, Deadpool, Professor X and, yes, Storm.

While it is certainly possible that Marvel and Fox could work out a deal in the future like they did with Sony for Spider-Man, for now, do not expect Storm and Black Panther to be appearing in the same film any time soon.

Civil War


Black Panther made his first film appearance in Captain America: Civil War, where, in order to bring Winter Soldier to justice, he sides with Iron Man's pro-Sokovia Accords faction of Avengers. In the comics, Black Panther sides with Captain America's anti-registration faction after authorities tried to force Storm to register. In Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther ultimately realizes that he was being manipulated by the film's primary villain, Zemo, and ends up helping Winter Soldier hide away in Wakanda.

Powers and abilities


Black Panther's full range of powers has been alluded to in the MCU only via battles with Winter Soldier and the rest of Captain America's faction of Avengers. In the comics, Black Panther is gifted with enhanced senses and physical attributes by a heart-shaped herb, which connects the hero to the Panther God Bast. In both the comics and films, Black Panther's suit is lined with Vibranium, making him highly resistant to bullets and other weaponry.

Black Panther film

T'Challa will make his solo film debut in Black Panther, set to be released on Feb. 16. Directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther will feature Chadwick Boseman in the title role, as well as Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o and Andy Serkis, as Killmonger, Nakia and Ulysses Klaue, respectively.

Mic has ongoing coverage of Marvel. Please follow our main Marvel hub here.