Throughout Black Panther's brief appearances in Civil War and the new #BlackPanther trailer, he's gone toe-to-toe with Captain America, he's outrun a speeding car, he's fallen from great heights without a problem, and has even thrown a Wakandan invader full-force into an armored car.
Those are awesome feats of prowess worthy of a king of such a technologically-advanced civilization, but there's something we need to consider: We have no idea of where the hero's abilities in the MCU came from to this point.
It was stated during Civil War that #TChalla would take over his father's responsibilities after his passing, which involved the Black Panther mantle. The thing is, we never got a clear explanation behind those abilities that come with that mantle.
So, how exactly can Black Panther fall great distances without breaking his legs or stand up to Captain America? We finally have the answer.
The Source Of Black Panther's Powers
#RyanCoogler and #KevinFeige gave an interview to Entertainment Weekly to discuss and give context to a few things that happened in the Black Panther trailer. One topic the duo touched upon was the hero's power source.
Feige and Coogler revealed Black Panther's abilities come from "The Heart-Shaped Herb," a plant that grows only in Wakanda that grants our feline-themed superhero super strength, heightened senses, super speed and enhanced agility:
“The Heart-Shaped Herb is how Black Panther achieves his powers. He can fight hand-to-hand with Cap, who’s a supersoldier, so he has super strength and heightened instincts that give him his enhanced abilities.”
The herb is not for any regular joe that wants to superpowers, though. It's meant for a #BlackPanther only:
“The Heart-Shaped Herb is what Black Panthers over the generations would consume, once they earn the title, which gives them their physical edge.”
That explains a lot in the movie universe, but it also begs the question.
What Exactly Is The Heart-Shaped Herb?
In the comics, the Heart-Shaped Herb is also the source of a Black Panther's powers. In the source material, the herb only grows in Wakanda, and it's the result of a plant mutation caused by a Vibranium meteorite that crashed into the hidden African city many years ago.
Despite its scientific origin, Wakandans believed it was a gift from their Panther God. Such heavenly status meant only Wakanda rulers could benefit from its effects (much like in the movie universe). Once a new ruler was established, the herb was applied to their body. To give you an idea of what the herb does for a Wakandan leader, here's what its effects are described as in the printed page:
"The poultice stimulated and accentuated the human being's kinaesthetic sense. The kinaesthetic sense is the subliminal perception that allows human beings to close their eyes, yet know where the different parts of their bodies are. If you didn't have this sense, you couldn't pick your nose or wash your hair if your eyes weren't open. The poultice, plus the stimuli of rigorous theological and physical training, heightened your kinaesthetic sense. It heightens the proprioceptive system processes the orientation sense to the brain and perceptions in your body. That is how you sense where a tree limb or a building edge is, know exactly where it is and never have a moment's doubt that your fingers will close about it. The sacred anointment poultice has a second effect on your muscles and ligaments, specifically on the joints where bones connect and swivel, mesh and respond. There are receptors in these joints called the Pacinian corpuscles that carry the signal to the brain to fulfill proper movement. Somehow the poultice is absorbed into those receptors and makes them especially sensitive."
Such effect in the body results in enhanced strength, agility, reflexes, and an accelerated healing factor, that –– while not as powerful or effective as Wolverine's or Deadpool's –– still does its job.
Going by Ryan Coogler's description and what we got to see in the #MCU, the Heart-Shaped Herb will have almost the exact same effects. What I'm curious to see is how the herb will be used in the movie. It wasn't quite clear whether the herb was ingested or applied, so I'm curious to see which method's used in the MCU.
But there you have it, that's why Black Panther was able to stand up to Captain America, and is able to protect Wakanda so fiercely.
Black Panther hits theaters on February 16, 2018.
What do you think about Black Panther's power source? Let me know in the comments!
(Source: Entertainment Weekly)