There are superheroes like Captain America, Batman, Green Arrow, Superman, Wolverine, Iron-Man…Hulk.
And then there is Black Panther.
He isn’t a science experiment. He isn’t a Super Soldier. He isn’t an X-Man. He is no Billionaire Playboy. He is no Alien.
He is a King.
King T’Challa of Wakanda.
A man who pours hot wax on his enemies and stamps regal authority.
And he isn’t no clichéd White man nor is he a coloured man living in some adopted nation. He is T’Challa. He is the king of the world’s most technologically advanced nation. He is a man who is well versed in numerous languages. He is sound in his arguments and boasts superior intelligence to his peers. He is an alumni of the world’s most prestigious universities and leader of the Panther clan.
He is Black Panther. He is no loony superhero with a vengeance or a twisted definition of justice wearing tights and prancing around running away from authorities. He is a king. And people often forget this.
Christopher Priest, one of the comic book greats, had a long run on Black Panther. As the third volume of this iconic king of Wakanda, Priest penned Black Panther (62 issues, 1998-2003) and gave T’Challa real substance. An unmatched respect amongst Earthlings. Even the mighty Thor has to yawp and remind people who he is…an Asgardian Prince..and people still take him for granted. But never with T’Challa. He calls the Avengers his friends but is never really part of the superhero band. He never plays anyone’s tune. He marches on his own leitmotif.
Hence, the Black Panther film will be really important to not only the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but to the image of Comic Book Movies itself. It will bring respect to the comic book industry. And we have Christopher Priest’s excellent character development to thank for.
And I’m really glad that Marvel respect the work done by Priest and in that honour they have soundly cast Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa. Chadwick is a classy actor. He knows how to carry himself around. Having been the star of two acclaimed biopics, one concerning an African-American’s struggle and overcoming of racial segregation in early 1900’s America…it is commendable that Marvel saw in him the King and quickly declared him as the Black Panther.
The Black Panther storyline itself is a game changer. Aye, there have been several superheroes of coloured origin in comic books. But have any of them really stood out of the clichés that surround their races? I do not think so. There have been Muslim superheroes and superheroines, and African-Americans, and several others….but they’ve all given off a vibe of *O yeah…we are here to fill the equality vacuum*. It is only the Black Panther who really commands true and untainted authority. Intelligence. He is a brilliant character. He is a hard act to follow, someone who is worthy to look up to.
Let me brief you on his history.
The Black Panther comics are very gritty in the manner that they are political and social in nature. They deal with the issues of inequality, rights of the commonwealth and other matters that concern the people. It is semi noir in nature and intelligently written.
T’Challa is the king of Wakanda, a fictional African nation the size of New Jersey. Wakanda – in Marvel Universe – is the most technologically advanced nation on earth. It is the only source of the magic metal Vibranium; the aforementioned metal has absorbing abilities, also it is impenetrable. Any blow against the metal leads to the metal absorbing the vibrations and the force that comes with the impact and strengthening itself even more. Captain America’s shield is made of the same metal, acquired by Iron Man’s father Howard Stark, albeit in questionable circumstances. It is also the same metal that the evil AI Ultron is made of.
Apart from being a mine for Vibranium, Wakanda boasts technological advancement in several aspects of science, medicine, security and engineering. Wakandan engineers are pure geniuses. Wakanda is respected and feared all over the world…it is always hidden from foreigners…just a wee less than Attilan…and has a tight foreign policy.
The people of Wakanda do not trust foreigners easily….and rightly so. They say the outside world is corrupted beyond repair and has not only forgotten basic morality but has also sadly forsaken humanity. They like to keep their country a safe haven for good will. Captain America loves it there.
T’Challa was crowned when he was just 14. His father T’Chaka died at the hands of Ulysses Klaw, T’Challa’s arch-nemesis played by Andy Serkis of Gollum/Smeagol fame in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
T’Challa had received super strength, agility and immensely sharp senses through the consumption of a rare flower’s extracts. He was also anointed leader of the Panther clan, a spiritual and military faction of Wakanda, revered by one and all therein.
Hence, he has no superhero costume. The cat-suit he wears is a ceremonial garb and his name Black Panther is a title bestowed unto him by the sacred Panther Spirits.
T’Challa is a calculating man; he is a philanthropist, a scientist, an engineer, a martial artist, and a man boasting an I.Q equal to Sherlock Holmes. He is a clairvoyant solely through practice. He foresees politics and danger much before it is executed.
He is uncompromising in his values. He is a man who is all about staying true to his values and ethics. He is focused, resolute and unwavering.
He is often unrestrained when he puts his mind to something. He never issues an apology for controversial decisions that need to be taken in times of turmoil. He looks to the greater good, always counting potential casualty.
Such a hero…a king of an African nation unspoilt by any invasion from the west, a man whose nation stands on its own feet with no aid from any outside source. A hero who needn’t run away or hide from any authority; a man who isn’t an alien to earth, a man who is someone from amongst us yet superior.
He is a hero movie-goers do not need, but a hero we all truly deserve. It will be a delight to see Chadwick Boseman deal with the likes of the determined loyalist Hunter, the looney psychopathic schizophrenic murdering usurper Achebe and his arch nemesis, foe of his kin, slayer of the king, robber of his father’s soul, treacherous ambitious selfish man of heartless science: Ulysses Klaw.
And aye…it will be a lot of fun to see our very dear Mister Ross too. (I smiled). Ross is the narrator of Black Panther’s adventures and exploits in the comic books written by Christopher Priest. He is a White House representative, an Oxford alumni who is a wunderkid, a strong lawyer…but also a geeky, nerdy, half shy-half cocky happy go lucky doof, a personal ambassador and representative of the United States to King T’Challa…and a great, loyal and adorable friend. He is Peter Parker with an acute angle. I cannot wait to see who is cast in that particular role. He is will be the comedy catalyst for the grim and rarely smiling T’Challa. Marvel films need to have comedy as must…and he is that doofus sidekick who will provide us with a ton of that.
Whatever storyline or storylines are used as inspirations for the live-action adaptation, it will be revolutionary. It is a shame that I need to wait till 2017 for the film. So long…so very long to wait.
~ Zalysar Cuvegis