(Warning: The following contains both plot SPOILERS for the recently released 'Captain America: Civil War,' and potential — albeit speculative — ones for future movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Proceed with whatever level of caution that suggests to you is wise.)
Now, Black Panther may not have had a whole lot of screen time with which to make his mark in this summer's Captain America: Civil War, but what time the Chadwick Boseman-played hero did have, he used to remarkably good effect. The young Wakandan royal — better known to his friends as T'Challa — has, it seems, gone from being a largely unknown cinematic wildcard to a veritable fan-favorite in the space of, well, about twenty minutes of screen time.
That, however, may not be all the hero has planned in terms of defying expectation. Y'see, as it turns out...
Black Panther's Solo Movie Might Just Be Set To Redefine Superhero Movies Forever
For, as it turns out, three key reasons.
3. Black Panther Is A Strikingly Different Sort Of Hero To What We're Used To
Now, of course, a big part of Black Panther seeming unusual in a superhero context is the fact that, unlike the vast majority of heroes we've ever seen take to the big screen, he's not white. Now, there's a whole article (or thirty) worth of things to talk about there, with the lack of representation in the film industry being just one of the problems, but that isn't actually what I mean when I say "strikingly different." After all, with Civil War featuring three distinct, stereotype-free African American leads, and Black Panther looking set to do better still, we'll hopefully soon have little cause to be surprised to see well-rounded black heroes (and villains) in superhero movies.
Black Panther,though, is strikingly different from the heroes we're used to. The reason?
Y'see, while Tony Stark may be a successful CEO, Steve Rogers a decorated veteran, and Natasha Romanoff a skilled field leader, T'Challa is, y'know, an actual king. As such, you're unlikely to see much more in the way of anger-driven antics from the Wakandan monarch. Instead, as in the comic books, Black Panther is likely to be calm, calculating and constantly one step ahead of everyone around him — just like his comic book counterpart. Which, in a world of hot-headed billionaire goofballs and irrational fear-fueled Batmen, might just prove to be a genre-redefining play on his part.
Speaking of which...
2. Black Panther's Role In The MCU Is Unlike That Of Any Other Hero
Y'see, T'Challa being the king of Wakanda isn't, it seems, going to be a mere biographical detail for the hero — something we hear mentioned as he trots about the globe, fighting generic bad guys in exotic locations. Instead, it's his full-time job. If Black Panther fights crime, it's as the king of Wakanda. If he opts to help Bucky Barnes, it's as the king of Wakanda — and Wakanda will have to deal with any consequences alongside him.
In other words? Unlike every other hero in the MCU (and, quite possibly, superhero movies everywhere), it's entirely impossible to separate the man — T'Challa — from the hero — Black Panther. Where Tony Stark can choose to opt out of wearing the Iron Man armor, and Cap can leave his shield and costume behind if he so chooses, T'Challa has no such option.
Putting on a cat-themed mask is simply an extension of that — something we can expect to be reflected in his actions within the MCU in future.
1. Black Panther's Approach To The World Is Likely To Be Very Different To That Of Other Heroes
Specifically, don't expect him to spend much of his time hanging around New York City, and then hopping off on occasional expeditions to faraway nations. Where the likes of Spider-Man and Marvel's Netflix heroes are (much like the DCEU's Batman) very much tied to their home city, and the internationalist likes of Iron Man, Captain America and Superman are largely defined by the global scope of their focus, Black Panther looks set to take a very different path: One that leads to Wakanda, above all else.
As was pointed out above, T'Challa is a king first, and a hero second, and while his comic book counterpart has spent much of his time in New York (for various reasons), that doesn't seem likely to be mirrored in the MCU anytime soon. In fact, his one-time comic book liaison in the US, Everett Ross, looks increasingly likely to be deployed to Wakanda in 2018's Black Panther — something that took a while to happen in the comics.
— one more focused on protecting his own country than on acting as an international peacekeeper or watching over his self-selected slice of New York City.
The big question now, though?