Marvel’s Black Panther hits theaters Friday and judging by the pre-sale ticket numbers (over $180 million) it’s evident that it’s going to be the company’s heaviest hitter to date. The main reason being that in addition to fanatic comic book nerds, Black Panther has caught the attention of an audience that’s unlike the typical Marvel fanbase.
Everyday Black folks are onboard this time around and it’s exciting to see so many of us taking part in a universe that has entertained Black Panther’s core fans for the past 52 years.
Black Panther boasts a predominantly Black cast, another reason why it has resonated so strongly within our community. There’s a mix of young and older Black Hollywood actors, making BP the first superhero film to have Black characters who aren’t just sidekicks or back-up to a dominant White hero.
In fact, the main characters in Black Panther break every stereotypical rule in Tinseltown. Here we have beautiful characters of beautiful talents with beautiful minds. Flaws and all.
If you haven’t already, it’s strongly suggested that you watch the Captain America: Civil War movie. It introduces Black Panther and will catch you up on his character’s history.
Years ago, a meteor crashed into the earth landing in Wakanda. After an investigation, it turned out that the space rock was made up of an indestructible material called Vibranium. This is the same material later used to create Captain America’s shield in the United States.
The Wakandan discovery of vibranium led to the hyper-advancement of the country’s civilization. In a short amount of time, Wakanda became a society that looked like something out of Star Wars. All this while the rest of the world was continued at its normal pace. Just like in real life, the world’s wolves came out attempting to get their hands on it. Internal struggles emerged and this is where our hero T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) comes in to restore order and protect the homeland.
As far as the other characters in the Wakandan forefront, here’s who they are and how they relate to the Black Panther character.
Black Panther/T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman)
T’Challa is the sole ruler and protector of Wakanda. Because of the world wanting in on the vibranium trade, T’Challa must break the country’s self-isolation and regulate Wakanda’s relationship with the globe. Not only is Black Panther a hero of might, he’s also one of diplomacy.
Ramonda (Angela Bassett)
Ramonda is Black Panther’s mom. In the comic she died giving birth to him, but it looks like things have changed in the movie. Maybe, Ramonda will be in a series of flashbacks? We’ll have to see what happens.
T’Chaka (John Kani)
We saw John in the last Captain America movie as T’Challa’s dad. It’s his fate that drives Black Panther to become a superhero.
Shuri (Letitia Wright)
Part of the royal family, Shuri is T’Challa’s sister and next in line to become the next Black Panther in the event the current one isn’t able to. This isn’t an easy task, as becoming Black Panther is no easy feat. Shuri has been training feverishly for when the day comes.
Erik Kilmonger (Michael B. Jordan)
The Creed star plays Black Panther’s rival. Erik is an economic mastermind who blames the death of his parents on T’Challa’s lack of leadership. Kilmonger’s plan is to completely destroy the Wakandan economy and take over.
W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya)
Daniel goes from victim in Get Out to Black Panther’s second in command. Think of him as the Vice President of Wakanda and major strategist in T’Challa’s armada.
Okoye (Danai Gurira)
Okoye is part of Black Panther’s elite security team Dora Milaje and designated driver. Highly skilled in warfare and military operations, Okoye is BP’s warhammer and one of his many betrothed.
Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o)
Lupita’s complex character Nakia is also a member of Dora Milaje who at an early age, became obsessed with T’Challa. Nakia trained hard and joined Dora Milaje at 14 and grew the rest of her teens in the Royal Palace of Wakanda. Her character may have changed completely for the movie though.
Ayo (Florence Kasumba)
One of the most fascinating characters in the Black Panther universe, Ayo (in the comic) played a pivotal role in Wakandan politics. Ayo left Dora Milaje in an effort to reform the Wakandan laws regarding women. If the movie’s version of Ayo is anything close to the comic’s version, Ayo will surely be the new face of Black Girl Magic.
N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown)
The “This is Us” star’s character doesn’t exist in the comic book series but rumor has it that N’Jobu will be a part of Black Panther’s past. I’d expect N’Jobu to appear in flashbacks but not much in the present-day part of the movie.
M’Baku (Winston Duke)
M’Baku holds the title of the second most powerful warrior in Wakanda after T’Challa. He’s also the biggest hater as he believes that he should be ruler and the country should abandon all of their technological advances. M’Baku wants to go back to the old, iron-fisted ways of government.
As a reminder, there will be changes to some of the character storylines from the comic to make it more Hollywood friendly. Hopefully not so much that the Black Panther characters lose what make their already established personalities great. Either way, it’s a win-win for Black superheroes.
PHOTOS: Marvel Studios
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