* WARNING: This article includes spoilers for Captain America: Civil War. *
Captain America: Civil War is arguably the most outstanding movie the Marvel Cinematic Universe has produced. The highly polished ensemble offering ushered in Phase Three of the MCU, while simultaneously showcasing the rich complexity of its existing characters, carefully constructed since its inception in 2008.
It's quite a feat then for one character to stand out in a narrative saturated with the MCU's most beloved, even more so when that character is making his live-action debut. Chadwick Boseman illustrated with his portrayal of T'Challa that the future is bright for superheroes, with a good two years to spare until the solo Black Panther movie release date.
Phase Three Of The Marvel Cinematic Universe
Marvel has undoubtedly changed the superhero landscape, producing what feels like a nonstop stream of successful movies, all within its collective universe. Iron Man (2008) was the first of 13 installments so far, with each individual component sharing a collaborative, overarching narrative.
Helped by the huge success of Civil War (which has now grossed almost $972 million worldwide), the combined box office for all of the MCU films has now broken the $10 billion mark. Considering it has only been up and running for eight years, that's a phenomenal achievement.
And the roaring success doesn't look to be slowing down anytime soon; the next phase is set to introduce big-hitting characters Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel, as well as giving Spider-Man his first MCU solo outing.
But even with a myriad of exciting additions to the already flourishing world of superhumans, the king of Wakanda is one of the most hotly anticipated projects. Seeing as the Black Panther movie is set for release in February 2018, there's plenty of time to speculate, so let's look ahead at why the film could be Marvel's most influential to date.
The Origins Of Black Panther
The character was a joint concoction between Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, making his debut in 1966's Fantastic Four, Issue 52. Originating from the fictional African nation of Wakanda, Black Panther was the first black superhero in mainstream American comics. As well as being one of the top intellectuals within the Marvel Universe, he is also a skilled combatant who possesses superhuman physical attributes.
We first meet Black Panther when the Fantastic Four are summoned to Wakanda. T'Challa attacks them when they arrive, using a mix of technology and cunning. He defeats them one by one to test their abilities.
Other notable series include Christopher Priest's Black Panther, Issues 1–5 (1998), Reginald Hudlin's Black Panther, Issues 1–6 (2005), and Jason Aaron's Black Panther, Issues 39–41 (2008). More recently, Ta-Nehisi Coates's reimagining of the character in Black Panther No. 1 — which was launched in April — has become this year's best-selling Marvel comic, shifting 330,000 copies.
The comic storylines are often politically charged, depicting the way in which T'Challa balances the duty of king and superhero. Coates's series in particular has been praised for tackling important themes, which isn't lost on the writer. In an interview with New Republic, he said:
"When I think about part of what I want to accomplish with Black Panther, I think about Matt Fraction’s run on 'Invincible Iron Man' and Joss Whedon’s run on 'Astonishing X-Men.' I want to leave a similar mark. Listen, when I was a kid Spider-Man was the North Star for me, and I would like for some young person to feel that one day about my efforts on Black Panther."
Black Panther's First Live-Action Appearance
Considering the character's popularity over the past 50 years, it's surprising that this year's Captain America: Civil War was his first live-action appearance. However, Boseman's performance was worth the wait. Taking Tony Stark's side, we initially see T'Challa catapulted directly into tragedy when his father King T'Chaka is killed following an explosion in Vienna.
After Bucky Barnes is identified as the culprit, T'Challa hunts him down as his Black Panther alter ego, not only mixing with the Marvel heavyweights, but standing out as one of the film's highlights. Eloquently, during one of Civil War's most poignant scenes, T'Challa has his eventual showdown with Zemo (Daniel Brühl), but opts to free himself from the shackles of vengeance, stopping Zemo from killing himself.
As well as Black Panther winning the hearts of fans, Civil War directors Anthony and Joe Russo also identified Boseman's performance as a standout of the film. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the Russo brothers discussed the actor's dedication to the role. Joe Russo said:
“Black Panther is so revered. It’s his first time on screen. We put so much pressure on ourselves. I think more pressure for that character alone than we did anything in the movie just because as a comic book fan I thought it was so important to get the interpretation of that character right.”
While his brother Anthony Russo praised Boseman's portrayal:
“You can see from the other roles that he’s done that he builds a character from a very deep place. Like what he did with Panther in this movie was remarkable. He has a martial arts history that he himself was able to use and incorporate into how the character moved.”
The Solo Black Panther Movie Release Date
After building so much hype, all eyes are now on the Black Panther movie release date. Although originally scheduled for July 6, 2018, the film was actually brought forward to February 16, 2018. Fittingly — for a film with a black director and recently announced 90 percent black cast — this'll coincide with Black History Month.
We also get a brief glimpse of Wakanda at the end of Civil War, which becomes the resting place for Bucky as he slips into a deep cryogenic sleep until a solution to his manipulated mind can be implemented. To create an authentic feel for the fictional nation, Marvel Studios producer Nate Moore has confirmed the movie will be filmed mainly on location in Africa.
The caliber of those involved, along with the source material, suggests the film could be a monumental success. Ryan Coogler is one of the most exciting young directors in Hollywood, illustrated with last year's acclaimed Creed. Talking to Fast Company, Coogler spoke of his excitement directing the film:
"It’s going to be my most personal movie to date, which is crazy to say, but it’s completely the case. I’m obsessed with this character and this story right now, and I think it’s going to be very unique and still fit into the overall narrative that they’re establishing."
An Exciting Future For Marvel
Coogler's longtime collaborator, Creed star Michael B. Jordan, has recently confirmed his involvement in the movie, saying he will "provide a different spin" on his character, without giving away who exactly that is.
He also appeared to confirm to reveal Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o will join the team. With Jordan, Boseman and Nyong'o on board, this makes for a young, talented and highly exciting cast. Oh, and there are also rumors that Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens breakthrough actor John Boyega is in talks to star in the film.
Black Panther has been an important character in the Marvel Universe since his creation in 1966. Finally, 50 years later, T'Challa has earned his first live-action appearance. Now jumping aboard the juggernaut of the MCU, it looks like the king of Wakanda is here to stay and could possibly become one of the most beloved superheroes Marvel has to offer.
The Black Panther movie release date is February 16, 2018.
Need more superhero reading? Check out this list of actors didn't stop at just one superhero role.