If you live on planet Earth (or in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), you’ve probably watched Black Panther and obsessed over the incredible country of Wakanda and its awesome king, T’Challa, who also doubles as a superhero in his downtime.
That being said, it’s likely you don’t know as much about this side of the Marvel Universe as you do about Thor & co. So to help you kickstart your exploration, here are a few Black Panther facts you’ll be happy to learn about the Wakandan king and his fascinating background.
1. He was Introduced in the 60s
Before getting his own franchise, Black Panther appeared for the very first time in Marvel comics back in 1966, making his debut alongside the Fantastic Four in their 52nd issue.
2. ‘Black Panther’ isn’t an Alter-Ego
The film made this pretty clear but it bears repeating. The identity of ‘Black Panther’ is not like the average superhero alter-ego or secret identity as seen by most Marvel heroes, but a prestigious title passed on through generations. To better comprehend this concept, picture Queen Elizabeth also being given superpowers during her coronation.
3. His Character is Groundbreaking
Black Panther represented a milestone for Marvel, as he was the first black superhero in mainstream American comics. The fact that his origin story is not set in the United States, but in Africa is also a huge change from the archetypal Western heroes the Marvel fanbase is used to.
4. He’s Not Associated With the Black Panther Movement
Although some tend to think that the ‘Black Panther’ moniker was inspired by the eponymous civil rights movement that appeared in the United States in the late 1960s, the comics actually predate the creation of this organization by a few months. Scared of being associated with them — bear in mind that it was the late 1960s — Marvel almost changed the name (he was briefly known as ‘Black Leopard’), but eventually decided to keep it.
5. Black Panther Was Married to Storm
It’s unlikely you’ve ever heard of this strange, yet interesting fact, and now you’ll never be able to forget it. In the comics, T’Challa was briefly married to Storm from the X-Men. The two got hitched in Wakanda, but eventually annulled their union when T’Challa realized he had to protect his country before starting a family.
6. John Boyega Almost Played Him
Here’s a cool movie fact! Many actors auditioned for the coveted Black Panther role, including Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Anthony Mackie, Djimon Hounsou, and Star Wars’ John Boyega. The role went to Chadwick Boseman, and what a great job he did – although John would probably have been just as good!
7. Sorry, Wakanda isn’t a Real Place
You can stare at world maps all you want, but you have as much chance of finding Wakanda as you do Narnia. The gorgeous and highly advanced African nation is a product of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s imagination and simply does not exist. That being said, its creators came up with some rich, believable lore that could definitely trick anyone who doesn’t know better.
8. He Fought the KKK
Captain America is known for punching Hitler, but he isn’t the only hero who’s had his share of fascist-punching adventures. Black Panther followed this beautiful Marvel tradition in the The Panther Versus The Klan comics by kicking some Ku Klux Klan ass in the Deep South.
9. The Movie was Almost Directed by Another
Ryan Coogler directed the acclaimed 2018 movie but other filmmakers were considered by Marvel for the task, including Ava DuVernay, John Singleton, and F. Gary Gray. Ava DuVernay actually met with the studios, but left the project because of creative differences.
10. Wakanda was to Accurately Reflect Africa
Ryan Coogler consulted African history experts to make sure that Wakanda, though fictional, would aesthetically look like a legitimate African nation that could exist in the real world. Let’s just say it was a challenge he undertook successfully! Not just that, but in our list of Black Panther Easter Eggs, we also revealed that the characters spoke real African dialects including Xhosa and J’Bari!
11. He was a TV Success
Before blessing our big screens for the first time in Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther appeared in numerous animated television series, including Fantastic Four and X-Men in the 1990s, but also Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
12. Wesley Snipes Almost Played Him
It’s not a secret that superhero movies were not the safe bets they are today before Iron Man and The Avengers arrived in the late 2000s. In fact, Wesley Snipes tried to bring Black Panther to the big screen in the 1990s, but didn’t succeed in spite of Stan Lee’s approval. We can’t imagine how bitter Snipes must be now but when it comes to special effects, we’re happy it took them a few years to get on it.
13. Vibranium is Used by Other Heroes
The precious material native to Wakanda is extremely rare and resistant, so much so that it was used to create Captain America’s famous shield. However, you won’t be able to order it online and customize your car with it, because this metal is as fictional as Superman’s kryptonite.
14. Black Panther Wasn’t a Traditional Marvel Movie
Like all of us, Ryan Coogler watched the Marvel movies and realized they all looked pretty similar in terms of aesthetics. He therefore insisted on bringing his own team to the set in order to create something unique that would be distinguishable from the hundreds of other Marvel productions. This is a request we are grateful for, since the film definitely stands out!
15. He’s Often Compared to Batman
A fun fact that many will find questionable. DC and Marvel will always be at war, but for many fans, Black Panther is seen as Batman’s Marvel equivalent, since they both have high technology, money and intelligence at their disposal. That being said, Black Panther remains incomparable to most superheroes, DC or otherwise, as he was trained since birth to become a powerful vigilante — and a king — whereas Batman was just born rich.
16. Chadwick Boseman Insisted on the Accent
Although Chadwick Boseman is an American actor, he insisted on giving T’Challa an African accent, arguing that since Wakanda was never colonized, there is no reason why T’Challa shouldn’t have a “Wakandan” accent just like any of his compatriots.
17. His Powers Came From a Plant
T’Challa’s powers are not entirely innate and come from a Heart-Shaped plant native to Wakanda, which allows him to channel the power of a Panther god named Bast and be just as fast and strong as Captain America himself.
18. The Dora Milaje were Introduced Later
This group of badass women, who are also known as the Adored Ones, were added to the comics in 1998 and also provided some of the best Marvel action scenes to date in Ryan Coogler’s adaptation. Led by the general Okoye, the Dora Milaje are skilled warriors tasked with protecting the king and Wakanda with their lives.
19. Black Panther Was the First Black Superhero
Black Panther was not only the first black superhero in mainstream comics, he also became the first black superhero to get his own Marvel stand-alone project. What’s more, the whole film is also the first superhero blockbuster to have an almost all-black cast, meanwhile Ryan Coogler is the first black director behind a Marvel production!
20. He was Almost Named “Coal Tiger”
Not every superhero is “super” from the start. Black Panther, for instance, was almost called Coal Tiger. Not only that, but he was also initially drawn without a mask. Fortunately, Jack Kirby decided to scrap the whole concept and start over, and we couldn’t be more thankful for that.
21. Black Panther has a PhD
T’Challa isn’t just a wise leader and a skilled warrior, he is also a genius since he completed a whole PhD in physics at Oxford University before being crowned king of Wakanda. This makes him one of the brightest heroes in the Marvel universe and we couldn’t be more proud.
22. He’s a Team Player
Black Panther might come from a hidden country, but the man himself doesn’t hide from the world. Indeed, the comics have had T’Challa work with almost all known teams of superheroes to protect the world at large, including the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and more.
23. Quinjets Were Invented in Wakanda
The jets famously used by the Avengers were actually built by T’Challa’s team in Wakanda, which further proves that the super-world wouldn’t be quite tech-savvy without Black Panther’s nation of brilliant minds.
24. His Sister was Once Black Panther
T’Challa’s witty and clever sister, Shuri was definitely a highlight of the film, but what some fans may not know is that she was once a Black Panther! The bright young woman briefly became Black Panther in the comics while her brother was injured and needed someone to take up the mantle. We would pay good money to see this on screen!
25. The Movie Won Oscars and Broke History
The Black Panther movie was so successful that it won not one, but three Oscars in 2019. Not only was it the first Marvel movie to score an Academy Award, but Ruth Carter who won Best Costume Design was the the first African American woman to win in the category. Hannah Beachler, who won for Best Production Design was also the first black woman to win and be nominated in that category.
26. He’s one of the Richest Superheroes
It’s debatable, but Black Panther is one of the top 3 richest Marvel superheroes. T’Challa has a net worth of $90 trillion that’s mostly due to Wakanda’s huge reserve of Vibranium.
Black Panther was one of the lesser-known heroes of the MCU, but thanks to Ryan Coogler, this has clearly changed. Already badass as a superhero, T’Challa is also a king and an inspiration for his people and a refreshing change from the usual Marvel origin stories – he’s likely to keep popping up on our screens for years to come.
What did you think of these facts about Marvel’s Black Panther? Let us know if you have anything to add to this list!