Black Panther is one of the most eagerly awaited characters to make their silver screen debut in Captain America: Civil War (along with a certain webslinger, of course). With Black Panther's solo movie set for a 2018 release, there was a lot of pressure on the Russo brothers to introduce the character in a meaningful way. And boy, did they deliver.
[This article only contains plot details that were revealed before Civil War's release, but continue with caution anyway!]
Despite being a new player on the field, T'Challa has one of the most compelling character arcs throughout the film, as we see him progress from anger to acceptance.
Royal Diplomat, Legendary Hero
As the first black superhero, not only of Marvel but of any mainstream comic book, Black Panther is a much-loved and revered character. He has become a symbol of hope and strength against adversity, both within the fictional world he inhabits and in reality. Suffice to say, his appearance in Civil War was long overdue.
We truly can feel the weight of T'Challa's history in his Civil War introduction. Despite this being his first appearance, Black Panther has a fantastic amount of character depth and nuance. We immediately warm to the stately prince, who enters the action not on the battlefield but the negotiating table. (And there's some surprisingly sparkling chemistry between him and Natasha Romanoff).
The story gets shockingly personal very quickly, and we're thrust into the action along with T'Challa. What the Russos said before Civil War came out was true: It is difficult to take sides, as each character has justifiable and understandable motivations. And few characters are as emotive as T'Challa.
Although he's chasing down Bucky Barns, a.k.a. the ex-Winter Soldier, a.k.a. the darling of the MCU fanbase, we still feel for Black Panther. Each character carries the weight of responsibility — of survivor's guilt — and when it comes to T'Challa he's also carrying the legacy of the Black Panther role.
Civil War briefly touched on the mythic importance of Black Panther: T'Challa mentions that the mantle is passed from hero to hero down the generations. And as we know from the comics, the Black Panther is Wakanda's most revered figure, even worshipped in some areas of the fictional country.
That's a lot for T'Challa to carry, and we can see how heavy this role weighs on his conscience. Although he starts the film headstrong, leaping into action and driven by his emotions, by Civil War's conclusion we find T'Challa more measured. Because he is an outside party, he's the one to see clearly through the web of lies and manipulation that Baron Zemo weaves. And ultimately, his role is far more pivotal than anyone expected.
All in all, Civil War was the perfect introduction for this much-loved hero, presenting him as a ready-made icon but still giving him an engaging character arc. And of course, we couldn't be more excited for Black Panther, which is already measuring up to be one of Marvel's best films yet.
What did you think of Black Panther's role in Civil War?
[Header source: no-look-pass on DeviantArt]