Before the premiere of Captain America: Civil War, all eyes were on the ensemble cast and who would join the film. When news broke of Black Panther a.k.a. T'Challa making it into Civil War, fans of Black Panther were curious as to how one of their favorite Marvel heroes would be depicted on-screen. After learning Chadwick Boseman was recruited for the role, many were quite pleased with the final product.
Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) appeared to be one of the highlights of the film despite much of the focus centering around the conflict arising between Steve Rogers's team of Avengers and Tony Stark's enforcers. T'Challa was cleverly introduced as a diplomat for the country of Wakanda, which then lead to him revealing himself to the public as the Black Panther, but not much was said in terms of backstory for T'Challa or how he became the Black Panther of Wakanda.
Black Panther's Origins, Protector And King Of Wakanda.
It's unclear if T'Challa / Black Panther already had experience as the hero of Wakanda but after seeing T'Challa in action as the Black Panther in Civil War, it's safe to assume that T'Challa has been the active Black Panther of Wakanda for some time despite the Black Panther's origins never being thoroughly explained during Civil War. There were slight political discussions in regards to T'Challa and Wakanda, but nothing of his origins or how T'Challa became the Black Panther.
Sidenote: In accordance with the facts made apparent in Marvel Comics, the King of Wakanda is the one who assumes the title of Black Panther when he takes the throne, which means the Black Panther of Captain America: Civil War should've been T'Chaka, not his son, T'Challa. There was also a mention in the dialogue by T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) of how the King of Wakanda utilizes the title of Black Panther as protector of Wakanda — no one else can don the Panther suit other than the King.
Seeing as how T'Chaka was the King until his assassination during Civil War, that would've placed T'Chaka as the veteran Black Panther during the film, but it was T'Challa who portrayed the Black Panther. Unless the tidbit of information on the King of Wakanda also holding the title of Black Panther was misinterpreted, T'Challa should've been crowned King and Black Panther during the events of Civil War. However, T'Challa jumping into the Black Panther costume appeared to be something T'Challa was already used to doing, implying that T'Challa already had previous experience as the Black Panther. Experience aside, there was something more notable of the Black Panther's performance which very few fans were keen to pick up on — that being T'Challa's abilities as the Black Panther.
How Did T'Challa Become Enhanced?
From his athleticism to his combat technique, T'Challa a.k.a. Black Panther had to be more than just trained — his abilities emphasize another variable factoring in to his prowess as a combatant. In comparison to other MCU characters, no ordinary man could exhibit those types of combat skills, which more than implies that The Black Panther is also "enhanced." To add to that, T'Challa / Black Panther had no problem holding his own against the likes of the Winter Soldier and Captain America. With or without his suit, T'Challa was well equipped to fight the Winter Soldier. T'Challa was even capable of keeping up speed with Captain America during their chase of the Winter Soldier. That feat in itself is enough to prove T'Challa's superhuman abilities. To back up the claim, we simply have to recall the events of Captain America: Winter Soldier wherein Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America had no problem running circles around ordinary combatants like Sam Wilson a.k.a. Falcon.
In terms of how T'Challa became enhanced could be explained during Black Panther (2018). The film will exist in the current-day setting of Marvel's Cinematic Universe but there'll likely be flashbacks or an entire portion of the film devoted to fleshing out Black Panther's origins, including where T'Challa gained his abilities from. That being said, there's some source material to back up the claim of T'Challa being enhanced, aside from his combat skills portrayed in Captain America: Civil War.
Marvel Comics has created a very unique origin for the country of Wakanda and the people who lie therein. Within its origin, Wakanda has a system of values and traditions which are heavily emphasized in the comics. One of the Wakandan traditions made very well known are the trials which a warrior must undergo before becoming the King/Black Panther of Wakanda. The trials include fighting several other Wakandan warriors and completing various other tasks. In the end, if said warrior is successful, he's bathed from head-to-toe with the Heart-Shaped Herb, which endows the bearer with superhuman abilities (e.g. superhuman strength, speed, durability, heightened senses) similar to the effects of the Super Soldier Serum on Steve Rogers.
The Heart-Shaped Herb Could Be Used In Several Capacities During Black Panther
With the Heart-Shaped Herb (HSH) being the potential basis for the Black Panther's abilities, T'Challa may not be the only one to benefit from the HSH. In Marvel Comics, Erik Killmonger stole the HSH to use on himself and accounting for Michael B. Jordan being cast as Erik Killmonger in Black Panther, that could establish a basis for the same event happening on-screen as it did in the comics.
There's lots of potential for connectivity shared between T'Challa's origins and those of Erik Killmonger. In the scenario that T'Challa and Erik Killmonger have both been subjected to the HSH, they would be on equal footing when they face off against each other in Black Panther. Although, that's speculative for the moment. It's possible there will only be brief hints to where T'Challa's abilities stem from or the (HSH) may be the focus of Black Panther just as the Super Soldier Serum was the focus of Captain America: First Avenger and The Incredible Hulk.
Everyone in the Marvel universe wants to get stronger and that concept has been heavily emphasized in past Marvel films. Going back to Captain America: First Avenger and The Incredible Hulk, both films maintained a sub-plot which focused on existing individuals taking it upon themselves to enhance their anatomies in order to become their stronger, comic book counterparts. Just as both Red Skull and Emil Blomsky attempted to make themselves superior by unnatural means, it's possible Erik Killmonger will join their ranks by using the Heart-Shaped Herb in order to become superhuman. But of course, there's a caveat to Killmonger's use of the HSH. In Marvel Comics, Killmonger also becomes badly poisoned by the HSH because the herb didn't respond to his body correctly.
Will Erik Killmonger Mirror His Comic Book Counterpart During The Film?
Seeing Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) depicted in the same manner would be plausible in the upcoming Black Panther film. Going back to the possibility of Black Panther featuring the HSH as the Macguffin of the film, Killmonger's use of the HSH will likely result in a mirroring of events depicted in Marvel Comics wherein Killmonger poisons himself with the Heart-Shaped Herb rather than it granting him superhuman abilities. Although, we probably won't hear of any new details until the premiere date gets a bit closer.
There's still some time before Black Panther premieres, the film is currently in its pre-production stage and isn't slated for released until mid-2018. We'll likely hear more information from director Ryan Coogler when he's ready to give more details on the film during an interview. It is then that we'll receive confirmation of how much Black Panther will mirror the comics, including the degree to which Black Panther's origins are explained. We won't know how identical T'Challa's history will be to his comic book counterpart, but if Chadwick Boseman's performance in Captain America: Civil War was any indication of T'Challa already being enhanced, it's very likely that Black Panther will devote a significant portion of time to T'Challa's backstory as he rose to the title of King / Black Panther.
What do you think? Is T'Challa enhanced? Could he have been bathed in the Heart-Shaped Herb or is he just naturally skilled as a combatant? Have any thoughts, leave them in the comments section below.
Black Panther premieres February 16, 2018. Directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed). Starring Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Michael B. Jordan, and Andy Serkis.