Things to know before you see 'Black Panther'

A preview of 'Black Panther' and why the movie is significant

For the last 18 years, viewers have been inundated by superhero movies to the point of banality.

It takes movies like “Wonder Woman,” “Logan” and now “Black Panther” to challenge tropes, setting themselves apart within the genre.

Black Panther is the 18th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it is the first to focus on a black hero. More than this, according to some critics, “Black Panther” is one of the best, if not the best, Marvel movie ever.

With so much to its continuity and the length of time since a main storyline film’s release, knowing the weight of “Black Panther” in the MCU can be confusing.

Below are the details needed for one to enjoy “Black Panther” in all its glory. 

Background Information

Black Panther debuted in “Fantastic Four #52” back in 1966.

The character was written by comic book legends Jack Kirby and Stan Lee and was the first mainstream black Marvel superhero.

In the MCU, Black Panther is played by Chadwick Boseman, who has played many culturally significant roles.

Black Panther's alter ego is named T’Challa, and unlike other superheroes his identity is well-known as he is the king of his country. As we saw in “Captain America: Civil War,” T'Challa inherited the position of king following his father, T'Chaka's, death at the hands of Sebastian Stan's Winter Soldier.

Though T’Challa is the son of the king, Wakandan tradition calls for combat and consumption of the Heart-Shaped Herb for one to become the fully realized Black Panther, which has been teased in the movie’s trailers.

Audiences first saw T’Challa in “Civil War,” making his solo film arrival almost two years later highly anticipated.

Kingdom of Wakanda

Wakanda is a fictional country located in East Africa, and as of “Civil War” is a completely isolated country.

Despite its isolation it is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the Marvel continuity.

The country consists of multiple tribes which are unified under royal leadership, which is also why the Black Panther must be go through trial by combat to show his worth as a leader.

These tribes follow specific religions based on Egyptian Gods and include the Panther Cult, White Gorilla Cult, Lion Cult, Crocodile Cult, and Hyena Clan. Glimpses of these tribes can be seen in the Black Panther trailers.

Iron Man’s father, Howard Stark, and a team of explorers were the first outsiders to discover the country. In their discovery they also found the reason for Wakanda’s seclusion, vibranium.

Vibranium was introduced in the MCU through Captain America’s shield and also appeared in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” The rare metal is the source of the country’s massive wealth.

The origin of all vibranium on earth is from a meteorite that landed in Wakanda, and some fans speculate that the asteroid carried an Infinity Stone

This marks the country as potentially vital in the story the MCU has been developing for the last decade, so many will be watching closely for the stone’s appearance.

The Hometeam

The film has not only garnered attention for its representation of black heroes, but for its inclusion of strong female characters.

The all-star female cast is reigned in by Angela Bassett who is playing T'Challa's foster mother Ramonda. She is the queen of Wakanda, and married T'Chaka after his first wife died giving birth to T'Challa.

An all-female group known as the Dora Milaje are personal bodyguards to T’Challa and are trained from birth to be elite warriors. In the comics they are used as a way to unify all of the tribes of Wakanda as they are considered a part of the royal family.

One notable member of the Dora Milaje is named Nakia who is played by Lupita Nyong’o.

In the comics Nakia is a love interest for the king, and some speculate due to her history she will play a devious role in the movie. Read here for potential spoilers.

Another significant female in the movie is Shuri, T’Challa’s half-sister, and a big reason behind Wakanda’s advanced technology. Shuri has an intellect that rivals Tony Stark’s, and she is responsible for creating all the gadgets we’ve seen in the trailers.

Played by Letitia Wright, Shuri has been praised as one of the most fun parts of the entire film.

The Villains 

Relative to what is shown in the trailers there are two main villains in the film.

One we have been introduced to before, Ulysses Klaue aka “Klaw,” and a new villain, Erik Stevens/N'Jadaka aka “Killmonger.”

Klaw was first seen in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” selling vibranium to Ultron, this callback ties together story lines as Klaw flaunts what are thought to be the closely guarded secrets of Wakanda in the movie’s trailers.

He will team up with Killmonger based on what we have seen in the trailer.

Killmonger is one of the main villains from Black Panther’s rogue gallery, and will be challenging T’Challa for the throne.

Killmonger was banned from Wakanda, making him take a vow of vengeance against the royal family. 

He also somehow got his hands on a version of the Black Panther’s suit, and may be rallying the tribes for a coup as evidenced in the movie's trailers.

Both of these villains have a long history in Marvel Comics, and fans are excited to finally see them take on bigger roles in the MCU.

Social Significance

For many children "Black Panther" is the first time they'll be seeing themselves represented in a big way (though we all remember how Wesley Snipes started the superhero game). "Black Panther" has the ability to rally the same kind of impact for young black children as "Wonder Woman" did for young girls.

Get excited about this movie because it is awesome for all the right reasons. One of the most important things we can do as fans is support this movie at every level so studios are motivated to make more of its kind.

Octavia Spencer has been a shining example in buying out an entire theater on the premiere, and offering tickets for free.

Another big part of the film is the massive collaboration album spearheaded by Kendrick Lamar. Listen here, it is awesome.

"Black Panther" hits theaters February 16th and already has a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes

Find tickets here.

 Reach the reporter at or follow @zamurai_96 on Twitter. 

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