Considering the intricate connectedness in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even the smallest pebble of change can cause ripples far and wide, impacting events and characters across the franchise. News that Avengers Infinity War will now be a standalone film rather than two parts raises questions about who will be affected by the subsequent wave of change.
While the previously named Part Two is still on the cards — now under the placeholder of Untitled Avengers Movie — MCU regulars the Russo Brothers confirmed that the films will be different. Very different. And that could mean some careful rejigging when it comes to specific superheroes' screentime.
Previously, we've explained why we can be confident that Brie Larson's Captain Marvel will still be making an appearance, despite earlier predictions suggesting she wouldn't appear until Part Two. Next up under the spotlight is Black Panther, the King of Wakanda who made his memorable debut in Captain America: Civil War.
An Important Link To Upcoming Avengers Films
Now, before we become concerned at the thought of Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa being painfully undercut thanks to this news, fear not; the roar from the Black Panther movie will reverberate clearly through Infinity War.
In fact, such is the connection between Ryan Coogler's solo film, the release date was deliberately brought forward to February 2018, to ensure it was revealed to the masses before Infinity War in April that year. Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige confirmed this in an interview with Empire Magazine, confirming:
"T'Challa's story is very important to us as it links to the next Avengers films, which is why we brought it forward."
Building On An Impressive Debut
The exact details of what that role will be are still unclear. We know the solo debut of T'Challa will be set in the colorful fictional African nation of Wakanda, which we saw a glimpse of toward the end of Civil War, but its importance in the Avengers mashup hasn't yet been revealed.
In the comics, Black Panther joins the superhero ensemble in The Avengers #52. In later issues, he yo-yos between his home nation and the USA. At one point, he returns to Wakanda when it becomes embroiled in its very own civil war, before then returning to the USA where he helps them to achieve a special UN status.
Boseman's live-action character became embroiled with the Avengers after his father was killed, before uncovering Helmut Zemo's plan to manipulate the supehrero team and pit them against each other. By the end of Civil War, he'd joined forces with the Avengers, guarding Captain America and the rest of the rogue superheroes in Wakanda.
Despite fierce competition from the likes of regular MCU veterans Iron Man and Captain America, as well as Tom Holland's Spider-Man, Boseman stood out as a compelling character, clearly motivated strongly by his own moral code and his belief in the greater good.
But T'Challa's relationship with the rest of the Avengers isn't the only thing that will make him an integral part of Infinity War. With the growing importance of Infinity Stones and the all-powerful supervillain Thanos becoming a much bigger threat in upcoming Avengers team-ups, it would seem likely Black Panther will uncover an Infinity Stone in Wakanda, or at least make a connection with the mystical objects.
A New Era In The MCU
The times, they are changing, and while Civil War ushered in a new era within the MCU by introducing "Phase Three," Infinity War is set to reinvigorate the universe completely. During a Q&A session last year, producer Jeremy Latcham confirmed the platform will eventually be set for new characters to have their time in the spotlight. He said:
"I think it definitely is an end to some version of the team that we've come to know as The Avengers. Who knows exactly what's going to happen yet in [Infinity War], but I think this version of that team – and I think we started to hint at it at the end of Age of Ultron, that the team will be evolving."
With this in mind, and the fact Black Panther has been identified as a crucial link to the future Avengers team-ups, could this mean T'Challa will become the new figurehead of a refreshed and newly recruited team of Avengers? If Boseman's debut in Civil War is anything to go by, he's more than ready to take on the challenge.