ByMark Anthony Wade Lynch, writer at
Trying to become Earth's Mightiest writer or at least one that people look for.
Mark Anthony Wade Lynch

From the moment T'Challa arrived on the big screen with Captain America: Civil War, the character brought strength, royalty, power, intellect and mystery to the MCU. Since then, the first trailer for Black Panther has been released to thunderous applause, and fans are clearly loving what we've seen so far. The short but impressive Marvel preview has shown that we are getting everything we saw in Civil War and more from Black Panther - but not just from T'Challa.

Black Panther is set to have a handful of characters that aren't widely known, whether you read comic books or not. When the movie comes out on February 16, 2018, there are going to be characters that will amaze audiences worldwide that have been sitting on comic book shelves for years. So, I'd like to introduce you to some of these amazing characters and why they are bound to make Black Panther one of the best Marvel movies to date.

Warning: If Marvel chooses to replicate storylines discussed in this post, they could be considered spoilers.

Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan)

Erik Killmonger (Credit: Marvel)
Erik Killmonger (Credit: Marvel)
  • Creators: Don McGregor, Rich Buckler
  • First appearance: Jungle Action Vol 2 #6 (September, 1973)

In many ways, Killmonger is the antithesis of T'Challa, and is everything that T'Challa has tried to not be. T'Challa doesn't try and sell his people a dream, he leads by example and always reminds the people of Wakanda that hard work is the only way to achieve greatness.

Killmonger is a politician. He knows how to talk a big game and also knows how to play the crowd like a puppet, even using T'Challa's own words and actions against him. This is exactly what Killmonger has done in the past, forcing T'Challa to fight him on his own terms - something T'Challa doesn't do unless it's absolutely necessary.

Killmonger (Credit: Marvel)
Killmonger (Credit: Marvel)

Comic books have proved that Kilmonger is the only person to beat T'Challa consistently. It's not that he's a better fighter, he just knows how to push T'Challa's buttons better than any other character. Perhaps most notably, his actions in Black Panther: Back To Africa showcased his skill when playing the crowd (and the media) like a drum.

Michael B. Jordan has a chance to make a statement in this movie. A lot of his previous roles have been good guys and aspiring heroes, but Killmonger is certainly no hero. Killmonger is unlike any villain we've seen in the so far; He combines the fighting skill of T'Challa with the wit of Tony Stark and the ruthlessness of the Winter Soldier. Jordan has the talent to take this character and do something remarkable, similar to how actors such as Heath Ledger and Tom Hiddleston have done in the past with Joker and Loki, respectively.

Killmonger is a lesser known character, and his pending rise in popularity thanks to Jordan's portrayal will be fun for comic book fans to witness.

The Dora Milaje (Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong'o)

The Dora Milaje  (Credit: Marvel)
The Dora Milaje (Credit: Marvel)
  • Creators: Christopher Priest, Mark Texeira
  • First appearance: Black Panther Vol 3 #1 (November, 1998)

The Dora Milaje are the bodyguards of The Black Panther, but are not of the royal family. The Dora Milaje are from different tribes of Wakanda to "ensure that every tribe has the opportunity to put forward one of their daughters for the crown". While many may try and become the Dora Milaje, only two are deemed worthy of this honor.

The Dora MIlaje are some of the most elite fighters in the world. Throughout comic book history, they've even sacrificed theirs lives protecting their ruler.

Okoye (Danai Gurira)

Okoye (Credit: Marvel)
Okoye (Credit: Marvel)
  • Creators: Christopher Priest, Mark Texeira
  • First Appearance: Black Panther Vol 3 #1 (November, 1998)

Along with Nakia, Okoye was the first of the Dora Milaje under the service of T'Challa. In fact, the Dora Milaje had been an inactive service until it was brought back by T'Challa in Black Panther: The Client.

Okoye took her time as T'Challa's protector seriously and knew that the title "Wives in Training" was not something that was actually in her job description. Unfortunately, her partner Nakia thought otherwise.

Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o)

Nakia (Credit: Marvel)
Nakia (Credit: Marvel)
  • Creators: Christopher Priest, Mark Texiera
  • First Appearance: Black Panther Vol 3 #1 (November, 1998)

Former Dora Milaje Nakia took the title "Wife in Training" to heart. Nakia had a bit of an obsession with T'Challa and hoped to one day be his wife.

To make things worse, her feelings were heightened when T'Challa kissed her while under the influence of a magic spell. Later, during Black Panther: Enemy of the State, Nakia tried to kill T'Challa's girlfriend, Monica Lynne, by ejecting her from a plane. She was then kicked out of the Dora Milaje.

Even after being removed from her duties, Nakia's obsession didn't stop. Later, in Black Panther Issue #24 'Beloved', Nakia would reappear with Killmonger under her new name, Malice.

Shuri (Letitia Wright)

Shuri  (Credit: Marvel)
Shuri (Credit: Marvel)
  • Creators: Reginald Hudlin, John Romita Jr
  • First Appearance: Black Panther Vol 4 #2 (May, 2005)
  • First Appearance as Black Panther: Black Panther Vol 5 #5 (August, 2009)

Shuri is the biggest bad-ass yet to be discovered by the moviegoing audience. She is T'Challa step-sister, and has had the same training as T'Challa, making her a force to be reckoned with.

In fact, Shuri worked twice as hard as T'Challa to develop her skills over the years. If not for a big guy falling on her just as she was about to enter the ring, Shuri would have more than likely won the fight that eventually led to T'Challa becoming Ruler of Wakanda.

Eventually, Shuri became the Black Panther during Black Panther: The Deadliest of the Species arc. Injuries to T'Challa sustained while fleeing Latveria left him incapacitated. Meanwhile, a totem-eating being (Morlun from Spider-Man) threatened to eat the Panther Totem in T'Challa, so Shuri stepped in, taking her rightful place as The Black Panther and Queen of Wakanda.

Shuri as The Black Panther (Credit: Marvel)
Shuri as The Black Panther (Credit: Marvel)

However, Shuri is nothing like T'Challa when it comes to being the Black Panther or leading their nation. While T'Challa tries to use diplomacy before fighting and uses cynicism to catch his opponents off-guard, Shuri has no time for such antics. She is a ruthlessly direct leader who leaves no ambiguity as to how she wants to rule.

Hopefully, Letitia Wright will do so well in this movie that we will get a chance to see Shuri in a solo movie in the future.

King T'Chaka (John Kani)

King T'Chaka (Credit: Marvel)
King T'Chaka (Credit: Marvel)
  • Creators: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
  • First Appearance: Fantastic Four #53 (August, 1966)

T'Chaka was one of the many Wakandans that have held the mantel of Black Panther. While there have been many, it is an honor not granted by just anyone. T'Chaka, T'Challa's father, is an important figure in Marvel lore, because he gave Steve Rogers the vibranium that would later become Cap's shield.

Comic book readers will know that T'Chaka is also the man to have beaten both Namor and Steve Rogers in battle during World War II. Despite this, he still managed to gain their trust - something not easily given by either hero.

Having already appeared in Captain America: Civil War, it will be great to see John Kani reprising the role for Black Panther.

Ayo (Florence Kasumba)

  • Creators: Al Ewing, Kenneth Rocafort
  • First Appearance: Ultimates Vol 2 #1 (January, 2016)

Ayo is one of the former Dora Milaje. During Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, her loyalties were put to the test. Ayo's options were to stay loyal to her king and country, or to save her beloved Aneka - ultimately choosing to save the one she loved.

Ayo stole an advanced armor prototype called Midnight Angel Armor, rescued her beloved from prison and fled Wakanda. With the help of her beloved, Ayo and Aneka then set out to return Wakanda to its former glory.

Ayo appeared to be on the side of T'Challa in Captain America: Civil War, and continues to be by T'Challa's side during the Black Panther trailer. This tells me that the events that lead Ayo to leave her duties hasn't come to pass, but could do within the in the future.

An amazing aspect of Wakanda and the Black Panther stories is that they continue to depict strong and independent women, and Florence Kasumba's reprisal of the role is a great example of this on the big screen.

Ramonda (Angela Bassett)

Ramonda (Credit: Marvel)
Ramonda (Credit: Marvel)
  • Creators: Don McGregor, Gene Colan
  • First Appearance: Marvel Comics Presents #14 (March, 1989)

Make no mistake, Angela Bassett has been charged with the more important roles in T'Challa's life.

When T'Challa's parents were killed, Ramonda stepped in and became his mother in the most crucial years of T'Challa's life. She was there when he was becoming a man, when T'Challa was sent on his walkabout, and when he became King of Wakanda. Ramonda has been one of, if not the most trusted advisers in T'Challa's life.

In Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, T'Challa was struggling between being an aggressive, hands-on ruler and trying to be a kind and motivating king. However, Ramonda was always there to remind T'Challa of who he truly is, a role that Ramonda is likely to maintain for her MCU debut.

Personally, my favorite moment of guidance was when Ramonda said to T'Challa the following,

"It is not enough to be the sword, you must be the intelligence behind it"

Ramonda, (Black Panther #1)

She didn't mean this solely for as a ruler, but for the rest of T'Challa's life as well. Not only is she wise, but the character can also wield a blade just as well as any other Wakandan warrior.

Angela Bassett is one of the strongest female performers in Hollywood, and Ramonda deserves nothing but the best. If I had my way, Angela Bassett would have proven her ability to play a strong black character by playing Storm in the first X-Men Franchise, so it's great to see that she is finally getting her time to shine. Given the strength and wisdom of Ramonda, I fully expect Bassett to standout in Black Panther.

Is there anything else you'd like to know about these Black Panther characters? Let me know with a comment.


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