In a huge announcement event last week, Marvel Studios let the fans know what to expect from the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The standards were all there; The Avengers, Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy, etc. And a couple of new items like Dr. Strange and Captain Marvel. But the one that got me the most excited at that moment was the announcement of Black Panther, both as a key character in Captain America 3 in 2016, and in his own movie in 2017.
Interestingly, I wasn’t introduced to the character through the comic books, but through the Marvel Superheroes Role-playing Game from TSR. Under the description of the Fighting ability, it listed the rank of Amazing as “The ultimate human fighting machine.” And as examples of this level of ability it listed Captain America, The Punisher, and Black Panther. With that, and seeing the little “headshot” of his mask, I was totally intrigued.
For those who may not know, Black Panther, whose real name is T’Challa, is the king of a fictitious central African nation called Wakanda. Wakanda is very isolationist, and for good reason. They have the world’s only deposits of Vibranium (see Captain America’s shield), and are more technologically advanced than any other nation on the planet. Wakanda is also a hereditary monarchy, with the ruler donning the guise of the Black Panther as a symbol and protector of the nation. As such, he is highly trained in combat skills, and, depending on the writer, there are often mystical elements involved as well.
Black Panther has made several appearances throughout the various Marvel cartoons, and has been featured in several of his own print titles, as well as guest-starring in just about every other title imaginable since his creation in 1966 (I think there was even a time where he took over being Daredevil). But this film marks his live-action debut.
For a long time I had championed Michael Jai White to play the character. With his looks, his awesome voice, his underappreciated acting ability, and most of all, his martial arts expertise (in six different styles, no less), he seemed to be born to play the role. And he might have been a major contender had they made these films 10-15 years ago. But alas, he’s in his late 40’s now. Still kicking ass, and in better shape than a lot of actors half his age, but a little long in the tooth for Marvel’s sensibilities. So, instead they went with Chadwick Boseman.
I had never heard of Chadwick, and still haven’t seen him in anything that I know of. But, based on his pictures, and his interviews, I am happy with him as a choice. So, here’s what I think should happen. To prepare for the role, Chadwick should be trained by Michael. And then, if the film calls for a flashback to his origin, Michael should play T’Chaka, T’Challa’s father, and the previous Black Panther. How cool would that be?
I’ll tell you how cool. It would be EPIC!!!