There are so many superheroes in “Captain America: Civil War.” Nearly all of them we already know from previous movies — all but one, in fact.
That new one is Black Panther, who quickly asserts himself as a central figure in this superhero free-for-all known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In “Civil War,” he’s the fourth lead character, along with Captain America, Iron Man and the Winter Soldier. That’s kind of a big deal, particularly for a character who’s just been introduced and won’t get his own movie for two more years.
Even if you’re not a comic book nerd, you may have heard of Black Panther last year when it was announced that author Ta’Nehisi Coates would make his first foray into comics to write an 11-issue storyline about the hero. But if you’re going into “Civil War” cold, wondering what the hell is up with this awesome dude and why he’s so great at kicking everybody’s ass, I’m here to fill you in.
If you go back to “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” you might remember a subplot about Ultron trying to buy a stockpile of a rare metal called vibranium, which Ultron was planning to use to build a “perfect” body for himself. Vibranium, which also happens to be the metal that Captain America’s shield is made from, is only found in one place on Earth: the central African nation of Wakanda.
Though Wakanda is isolationist for the most part, vibranium’s myriad technological applications helped Wakanda become a world power, as there are a lot of things it’s good for beyond making bulletproof armor.
Black Panther, whose real name is T’Challa, is the prince of Wakanda. At the beginning of “Civil War,” T’Challa, along with his father King T’Chaka, is visiting a United Nations summit where they will ratify the Sokovia Accords, which would place the Avengers under the direct supervision of a UN panel. T’Chaka says Wakanda can no longer in good conscience stand alone after Ultron stole that vibranium stockpile. In the new world, people will need to work together to make sure that kind of thing can’t happen again.
Black Panther operates as protector of Wakanda, which means he puts on a vibranium suit and fights hand-to-hand with those he deems his enemies. So it’s a good thing T’Challa is a masterful fighter who can go toe-to-toe with enhanced humans like Captain America and the Winter Soldier. His fighting abilities are heightened by his vibranium suit, which is super tough and features claws in the fingers. It’s also bulletproof.
And that’s the basics on the MCU version of Black Panther, at least so far. It’s going to be a while until we see him again — the “Black Panther” movie is scheduled for July 2018, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he had a major part to play in the next “Avengers” film two months before that, in May 2018. There’s also the possibility of cameo appearances in other Marvel Phase 3 movies between now and then, but who knows? For now, this is what we know.