“[T’Challa] is an interesting character, that is going to be such a different thing for the audience.” — Stan Lee
Not to necessarily knock the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but whenever they’ve come out with films that claim to be game changers in any way, it usually tends towards more of the same white male perspective. This has been going on for the better part of ten years and isn’t a unique thing to this corner of the industry. However, with slightly over a month left before Black Panther hits movie screens everywhere, change is in the air. In a new featurette featuring co-creator Stan Lee, executive producer Kevin Feige and Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, a new kind of superhero is born.
The MCU has experimented completely unknown heroes before. Marvel Studios has taken the likes of the Guardians of the Galaxy and created narratively and visually stunning films that focus on a different gang compared to the more recognizable Avengers. But with Black Panther, there’s hope that the superhero juggernaut will evolve yet again by virtue of the kinds of characters taking center stage. The Black Panther character may be a staple in Marvel comics for years, but the presence of black superheroes in the MCU has generally been minimal. Obviously, none of them have had a standalone movie before. So, it’s about time the MCU tackled T’Challa‘s story head-on.
“It’s not just stuff blowing up. It definitely is a character piece.” — Chadwick Boseman
As a character with inherent responsibilities — being the ruler of a nation — T’Challa has more to contend with than the average superhero out there doing the right thing. Audiences have only just gotten a glimpse of T’Challa’s royal lineage in Captain America: Civil War. Civil War introduces T’Challa as a prince and almost immediately deals with the loss of his father, effectively thrusting him into the limelight to take up the mantle of king.
Perhaps a marginal comparison to him would be Tony Stark and his mounds of money, and his initial role on the world stage as an arms manufacturer. But T’Challa’s journey seems much more defensive and protective than Tony’s hero complex. Tony eventually realizes that danger of the weapons he was producing. But as evidenced in Civil War, T’Challa was raised to consider others before himself due to the knowledge of his eventual ascension. There is also a lack of the bitterness in T’Challa about the reality of his responsibilities. That may change in Black Panther given that T’Challa’s father was killed and superheroes these days love angst, but from what we’ve seen of the footage so far, he is handling himself without too much moping.
Watch the featurette below, and get ready to see Black Panther in cinemas February 16.