Over at the Marvel website right now, you'll find a new multi-part Black Panther character retrospective, starting from his initial intro in 1966, in "Fantastic Four #52" by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, through the present incarnation of the black superhero from the fictional African nation of Wakanda.
Part 1, which was published on Marvel's website 3 days ago (June 2) takes readers "back to the formative days of T’Challa" (aka Black Panther) with an in-depth account from writer Don McGregor. And part 2, published yesterday (June 4) chronicles "T’Challa’s formative appearances and seminal 1970’s adventures."
The end of part 2 promises a part 3 that will pick up where part 2 closes, following the character into the 1990’s. I suppose there'll be a 4th and likely final chapter, which will continue and end in the present day.
I mention this here because, first, it provides a quick and tidy education for those of us not familiar with the character's background, and the Marvel universe he belongs to overall; but also because I'm speculating here that Marvel is doing this now in anticipation of what might be an announcement of a Black Panther movie or TV project (finally!) after years of rumors and conjecture.
I searched the Marvel website for other past character retrospectives to find that they actually haven't done that many. In fact, I found just 2 previous retros - one for The Destroyer published in 2010; and another for Deathlok last year. That's it!
And as we know, The Destroyer would go on to be featured in the first Thor movie in 2011, a year later after its Marvel.com retrospective. That was the character's first film appearance. The Destroyer would also be mentioned in The Avengers movie in 2012. Whether or not there'll be more appearances in future Marvel movies isn't entirely known yet.
As for Deathlok, there has been a Deathlok movie in development for a few years now, although no official word on whether it's still in the works. However, earlier this year, on ABC's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.", the character was rebooted in the form of Mike Peterson (as played by J. August Richards), who received a makeover as he fully transformed into Deathlok in a few episodes of the series. And, as the season ended, it's hinted that he could return in the future, and his business with the Agents isn't finished.
So, all that to say, in the past, when Marvel has done character retrospectives on its website, the characters went on to be adapted and realized for the screen - whether on TV or in film. Thus, does this new Black Panther retrospective, which is quite thorough, suggest that the Wakandan superhero just might also be making an appearance on the screen (big or small)?
Time will obviously tell, but it's certainly fun to speculate, based on available evidence. And it all seems inevitable. Here's why (in part):
A year ago, there were rumors that Chadwick Boseman was Marvel's top choice to play the character, something I wasn't surprised by, assuming it was (and still is) true. Marvel never confirmed those rumors. But it didn't reject them either.
However, Boseman is just one of several black actors whose name has been said to be attached to a Black Panther movie at one time or another - none of them ever confirmed by Marvel.
The studio has certainly helped fuel some of the rumors, dropping Easter eggs in past movies and TV series, hinting at the potential for not only an eventual appearance by Black Panther in one of its upcoming projects, but other Marvel characters as well, as the studio continues to expand its comic book universe on the screen.
For example, at the end of "Iron Man 2," in addition to Tony Stark watching video of the Hulk’s college attack in "The Incredible Hulk," there just happens to be a map of the world, on the wall behind him, on which certain areas are circled - one of them being within the African continent, suggesting Black Panther's fictional African nation, Wakanda, where he is king.
There was also a rumor earlier this year that Black Panther will make his first big screen appearance in the next "Avengers" movie, "Avengers: Age of Ultron" - the sequel that was announced in May 2012, after the successful release of "The Avengers," which Joss Whedon, the director of the first film, is also directing, and which is scheduled for release on May 1, 2015.
I'm no comic book geek, and much of this is still relatively foreign to me, so I'll leave the explanation on the above rumor to our friends at Nerd Reactor to break down for you:
Keep in mind that right now this is all speculation, hearsay and a lot of connecting the dots, but so far all signs are pointing to an appearance — at the very least — of the royal nation of Wakanda in Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. Badass Digest’s Devin Faraci seems to have some insight regarding the appearance of Wakanda in Age of Ultron: "What if I told you that Age of Ultron invokes Wakanda as Ultron gets his comic book famous vibranium shell?" Ultron’s outer shell typically built with adamantium, but with that alloy on lockdown over at Fox, the next best option is to use vibranium. You can clearly see how powerful vibranium is in the MCU; so creating Ultron out of vibranium only makes sense. However, as Howard Stark put it in The First Avenger, Cap’s shield is “all we got” when it comes to vibranium. So where does Ultron get vibranium from? Right at the source within Wakanda. Remember, you can’t have a robot go against Earth’s mightiest heroes unless you have a metallic body strong enough to withstand all that firepower. As to the appearance of its ruler Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman might be the one who dons the Panther suit. Last year, we reported that Chadwick Boseman was on Marvel’s shortlist for the sought after role. A few days ago, Boseman was asked outright about the rumor between himself and Black Panther. Take a look below for his response.
The video of the interview came courtesy of BlackTree TV, which I did see. Boseman's coy response maybe said more than he realized. He certainly didn't deny it.
And let's not forget the "Richest Superheroes" graphic I posted yesterday, which lists Black Panther in the #1 slot, over Tony Stark (aka Iron Man). It went viral (not because I posted it; it was already out before I did). Granted the site on which it originated doesn't appear to have anything whatsoever to do with Marvel, and it could simply be a coincidence that they decided to create this graphic listing Black Panther as the richest superhero on the planet, at the same time that Marvel decides to publish a Black Panther retrospective.
As for whether Black Panther will show up in "Avengers: Age of Ultron," it wouldn't be a surprise to me, given what I said above about Marvel expanding its connected comic book universe on screen, while hinting at the appearances of various, thus far, unexplored characters, in upcoming projects, as well as all the other hints, including its new multi-part retrospective on the character.
So a Black Panther big (or small) screen debut just may be as done a deal as any, whether it's in "Age of Ultron," or in some other Marvel project.
Read Marvel's "Path of the Black Panther: A Retrospective" HERE. As one of the commenters on part 1 of the retro series asks: "Does this mean you're giving him a series soon? or a Movie? or at least an animated appearance in Marvel Universe on Disney XD? Because you guys don't usually do something like this unless you're about to announce something."
Exactly - as I said above, based on my own research.