(Warning: The following contains potential - albeit theoretical - SPOILERS for the upcoming Black Panther solo movie, as well as references to some of his past comic-book adventures. Proceed with whatever level of caution your panther god-heightened senses suggest is wise...)
Now, in a cinema landscape increasingly littered with sad Supermen and vengeful Dark Knights, the Marvel Cinematic Universe's particular brand of light-hearted, inherently-optimistic superhero adventure is perhaps worth guarding with more than a little care. After all, there aren't too many superhero fans out there desperate to watch Ant-Man gunning down gangsters, or Captain America snapping the Red Skull's neck in an act of agonizing pragmatism. The MCU is, for the most part, a pretty upbeat place, and there's little obvious cause to change that.
With that being said, though...
It Sounds As Though Black Panther Is Going To Be A Whole Lot Grittier Than The Rest Of The MCU
In fact, according to the on-screen Panther himself, Chadwick Boseman, Black Panther may well prove to be the "grittiest" movie we've yet seen in the MCU. As Boseman recently revealed in an interview with CBR, he's angling for his take on the hero to be darker than what's come before - despite his fondness for the MCU's lighter touch:
"It’s funny, because on one hand, the Marvel movies that I’ve liked the most are the ones that are funny. I love “Ant-Man.” But for me, most of the time the darker superhero movies are the ones that I gravitate towards, that I love the most. So I’m glad that I’m not in an “Ant-Man.” I’m glad that the tone of [“Black Panther”] may be a little grittier. I just wanted to establish that from the beginning, that that’s what we were doing. That that’s what I intend to do. I feel like we’ll end up in a place that I’ve always wanted to be when I look at superhero movies. Those are the ones I like the most. It’s exciting to do that."
The most intriguing part of Boseman's reveal, though (other than that he loved the otherwise widely "quite liked" Ant-Man)?
A "Grittier" Black Panther Movie Actually Makes A Whole Lot Of Sense
Y'see, in much the same way that Ant-Man was perfectly suited to be skewed towards the comedic (there's only so seriously you can take a guy who talks to ants), and Captain America towards the political (he's a living symbol of the USA, and as such a natural mirror for its internal contradictions), Black Panther is a pretty darned perfect outlet for Marvel's latent 'grittiness'.
Want to know more about what we can expect to see in Black Panther? Check out:
- 'Black Panther' Could Feature More Marvel Heroes Than You Think
- Everything You Need To Know About The Black Panther's 5 Greatest Villains
- What New Genre Is Marvel Set To Explore In 'Black Panther'?
The biggest reason Black Panther's potential grittiness makes sense, though?
Black Panther Has Always Had More Of An Edge Than Most Marvel Heroes
From his very first appearance back in 1966's Fantastic Four #52, in which he essentially sucker-punched the entire FF in order to test his own abilities, BP has always been a more independently-minded hero than most - and that has often pulled him in far edgier (and more pragmatic) directions than you might expect.
When he's not playing superhero, after all, Black Panther is still T'Challa, king of Wakanda, and a man forced to make life-and-death decisions on behalf of millions of people near enough every day. He is, in other words, more than capable of making the hard, 'right' choice rather than the conventionally 'good' one. If it came down to it, for instance, the comic-book T'Challa wouldn't have blinked at blowing up the rapidly elevating Sokovia back in Age of Ultron, if it meant the difference between thousands dying, and millions.
The Big Screen Black Panther Is Showing Every Sign Of Being A Battle-Hardened Pragmatist
This is, after all, a man who was more than willing to hunt down and kill the man he believed to have killed his father - but is also capable of showing calculated restraint in pursuit, and cold, cruel mercy to the likes of Helmut Zemo. He is, in effect, an idealized vision of an old-school monarch - one wise enough to lead well, detached enough to lead fairly, and noble enough to be worthy of leading at all.
Putting aside the question of whether such a leader had ever actually existed in the real world, though, it's worth noting that for such a complex character to be fully explored, the cinematic context in which he appears needs to be just as messily complicated. In other words...
One who is "Grittier" Black Panther Movie Allows T'Challa To Be A Genuinely Complex Characters
One who is both fundamentally decent - as shown by his ultimate response to Helmut Zemo's actions - and capable of both cold, pragmatic calculation and anger-driven error. Which, of course, is something that would be pretty darned difficult to wedge into a light-hearted romp about T'Challa, say, befriending an ant, or giving a group of space-cops the finger.
Making Black Panther grittier, in other words, makes a lot of sense both when considering his comic-book origins, and in terms of opening up the on-screen T'Challa's character to new and complex emotional beats and characterization. It is, in effect, the most logical way to adapt an inherently complicated and often gritty character for the big screen - and if anyone would appreciate the use of cold, hard logic, it's T'Challa.
And, let's be honest, you really wouldn't want to make him mad...
What do you reckon, though? Are you happy for Black Panther to be grittier than the average Marvel movie, or would you like to see a different approach? Let us know below!