Comics and Cosplay
The Weird History of The Black Panther, New King of The MCU

Ross Lincoln | 30 Oct 2014 16:40
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OK, but who is he in the Marvel universe?

Like most Marvel characters, Black Panther's life is as convoluted and soap opera-ish as it gets, with a ton of connections to the larger Marvel universe filled in over the years.

The alter ego of T'Challa, charismatic and brilliant ruler of an advanced African nation called Wakanda, he is also the acknowledged head of all his nation's tribes, which gives him the right to use the hereditary title "Black Panther."

Wakanda is a resource-rich country somewhere in East Africa, notable for high concentrations of the fictional element vibranium, courtesy of a meteor impact sometime far in the past. Ancient leaders of the country correctly deduced that vibranium would be a highly sought-after substance, and to avoid exploitation, they worked to conceal the country's existence. However, they enacted a policy of sending Wakandans into the world to learn everything they could, while at the same time meting out a tiny amount of vibranium in surreptitious trades. As a result of the subsequent intellectual and monetary wealth, Wakanda was able to develop in secret into the most advanced nation on Earth.

Because of its vibranium, Wakanda also has a high concentration of mutants. This possibly explains Black Panther's enhanced senses, though his powers largely come from the Bruce Wayne school of superheroism. He's trained to be in peak physical condition, and in addition to being backed by the wealth of his country, he's also a genius. His trademark catsuit is made out of vibranium, by the way, which gives him an enormous degree of protection. (Imagine Captain America's shield turned into clothing. More on that below.)

T'Challa's father was killed by the supervillain Ulysses Klaw, who had found his way into Wakanda looking for vibranium to power a sound-based weapon. T'challa attacked Klaw and drove him from the country. He then embarked on a rite of passage during which he briefly dated a teenaged Storm, though that ended because he was dedicated to finding Klaw and avenging his father's death.

After assuming the throne of Wakanda, he instituted numerous reforms, then went abroad for his education. His formal introduction into the Marvel universe occurred when he invited the Fantastic Four to Wakanda, then challenged and defeated them as part of a two-step plan to both prove his ability to defend the country and recruit the First Family in his battle against Klaw. (Like MovieBob says, Comics... Are... Weird...)

He was made a member of The Avengers in 1968, and soon after went public with his identity and with the existence of Wakanda. Since then he has alternated between stints as a solo hero and as a full-fledged member of the team. More recently, he married Storm, embarked on diplomatic missions including to The Inhumans, found himself in the middle between Captain America's and Tony Stark's ideological divide during the Civil War crossover, stepped down as ruler of Wakanda after a serious injury, for a while even replaced Daredevil, then annulled his marriage to Storm because reasons.

In between all of that, Black Panther got up to some weird and occasionally socially relevant adventures, such as a stint during the 70s fighting the Ku Klux Klan in the American south.

He's been around, is the point.

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