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Is There A *Name* Actor Who Could Convincingly Play Black Panther In A Movie? You Decide

by Tambay A. Obenson
January 27, 2014 1:20 PM
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I say, no.

With the ongoing chatter about Marvel Studios' plans for a Black Panther movie on its slate (most recently, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, revealed in an interview with BlackTree TV that a Black Panther movie is "absolutely in development"), the obvious question that's been on most minds is, just who should play the superhero from the fictional African nation of Wakanda

I spent some of the morning browsing through message boards and other sites, looking over lists of suggested actors, from writers and commenters - lists that range from the thoughtful, to the ridunkulous. Seriously, Will Smith as Black Panther? Really? And as much as I like John Boyega, I just can't picture him in the part; nor Anthony Mackie, Isaiah Mustafa, Djimon Hounsou (a fan favorite - his name turned up on several lists; he's too old at this point, to play the young Prince of Wakanda), not even Idris Elba, another fan favorite for the part. 

Assuming Marvel will start from the beginning, and go with a younger T'Challa, I imagine an actor in his mid to late 20s, or early 30s; and with that, immediately, the list of available actors - specifically *known* actors who could play the part - decreases dramatically; partly because there just aren't many of them in the first place, who fit that criteria. Unless the studio chooses popularity over ability, and looks beyond Actors (capital "A" intentional), and considers musicians who've segued into acting. And even then, it's a short list.

There are a few other things to take into consideration - height, size (or at least the ability to create size), and being believable with the accent - not just some generic *African* tongue that will likely only elicit laughter from audiences.

Some fans are insisting that the actor be African - even if they aren't currently living within the continent; so naturally, Chiwetel Ejiofor's name has also been mentioned, as have Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and David Oyelowo - all 3 Nigerians originally, living in the UK.

There were a few interesting choices I didn't even think about, that I've read from others, including Aldis Hodge, Chadwick BosemanMehcad Brooks, and Nate Parker

Others suggested that Marvel look outside the world of acting, and at WWE Ghanaian star Kofi Kingston for example, and even MMA fighter Rampage, who has done some acting himself.

Who else? Tyrese's name was mentioned, as was Edi Gathegi, Derek Luke, Wesley Snipes, and others; but really, most lists I found had some combination of the names mentioned here; And others, as I noted, just didn't make any sense to me at all.

It's like we're playing darts or something; line up every black actor working today, throw in some rappers, wrestlers, fighters, and let's see which one we can make stick.

What do I think? I'm having a really challenging time coming up with anyone to be frank, even after thinking about it since last night. What I do know is that I'd prefer that the studio went with an Actor (the capital "A" is intentional), to give credibility to the project. They should take it very seriously, just as the WB has done with the Christopher Nolan era of Batman movies. So please no repeat of Steel... PLEASE!

Cast an Actor, not necessarily a star. I used to lean towards Chiwetel, more-so than any of the other popular choices, when talk began years ago about the potential for a Black Panther movie; He's an Actor, and, with some training, could certainly be whipped into proper physical shape for the role. I felt he could be convincing, and his casting would give the movie the right kind of credibility.

However, I'm not so sure anymore. 

And with that, as I've said several times in the past, I'd actually go with an unknown; less baggage. Go with an unknown, and then cast *name* actors around him to fill the supporting roles.

For example, if the chosen villain for the movie is Black Panther's archenemy Ulysses Klaw, they could cast a *name* actor in that part; There are lots of "A"-list white actors to choose from there certainly.

I like what Brian Helgeland did with his Jackie Robinson biopic (42); I think many would have expected him to cast an actor with some mainstream popularity/awareness, but he cast Chadwick Boseman instead, who, for all intents and purposes, was a relative *unknown* when he landed the role, even though he's certainly was not new to the game. And then he cast Harrison Ford, a very-well-known white actor, as Branch Rickey.

But what do you folks think? Dig in with your general thoughts, and/or suggestions.

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More: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Djimon Hounsou

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  • I Am Not Hill Harper | June 3, 2014 8:20 PMReply

    Hill Harper!

  • blackice | June 3, 2014 7:58 PMReply

    Micheal Jai White hands down!!! His physicalness and don't forget his extensive background in martial arts is superlative this role is made for him!!!

  • Johnfol | April 19, 2014 12:42 AMReply

    Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje , is the best pick for this role or at least another important role in this movie.

    Please Marvel don't make this movie like a teenager movie, you did not make Bat man like that… it needs to be grand, powerful and raw,… Adewale is perfect for Black Panther!

  • Al | April 6, 2014 11:00 AMReply

    They should cast me. I am an unknown, but able, actor who wants to be recognized as an Actor!

  • Dwayne | April 1, 2014 7:13 AMReply

    Morris Chestnut has the muscle for it and he is a pretty good actor. But I'm just not sure he could carry a movie like this. People are used to seeing him in romantic roles.

  • Ibrahim | March 23, 2014 9:59 PMReply

    Michael Jai White

  • Eliza | April 11, 2014 11:28 AM

    I would totally agree with Michael Jai Wright - he has the physique, easy on the eyes martial artist - BUT he will soon be 47. I think Marvel will go with a younger actor, in hopes of capitalizing on future productions; nothing says successful movie than a trilogy.

  • Keesha | March 15, 2014 12:42 AMReply

    Tika sumpter or the dark skin female from that reality show Totally Divas about the women in the WWE could revamp the the role of Storm.

  • mombasa | March 10, 2014 7:22 PMReply

    Zoinks! In creating this list of "names", what this piece is really saying is we need some new "names".

  • bbb | March 10, 2014 6:04 PMReply

    Terry Crews

  • khris | February 15, 2014 1:58 AMReply

    Morris Chestnut! He has the body and women love him.

  • Aaron | January 30, 2014 1:19 PMReply

    Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is my choice since he began his campaign for the role.

  • Andrew | January 30, 2014 6:57 AMReply

    I agree Charles Rex Baker would be great for the role
    He's an up and coming actor that's causing a few waves , check him
    Out on IMDb ( rextheflexbaker ) and on Facebook also follow
    Him on twitter .

  • Charles | January 29, 2014 5:32 PMReply

    Up and coming Actor.. Physical traits, good looks, Can handle Stunts and one tough cookie!
    Rex Baker. He's on IMDB,

  • DEBBIE | January 29, 2014 1:56 AMReply

    I saw Yann Gael on stage in Guadelupe. The play was about the life of Clown Chocolate. Omar Sy landed in the part for the film, shooting this year. Unfair for Yann. He's great...

  • CeeVee | January 28, 2014 9:49 PMReply

    No love for Dayo Okeniyi on this?

  • Eliza | April 11, 2014 11:38 AM

    Completely agree! He's fairly young & able to to do sequent Black Panther movies.

  • Screamwriter | January 28, 2014 7:14 PMReply

    No one's mentioned it yet, but T'Challa has a younger sister, Shuri. She eventually becomes the Black Panther and ruler of Wakanda. I'm not sure Marvel is willing to go down the shaky female-driven superhero route (maybe as an addition to The Avengers), but if they did... there's a certain 2014 Academy Award Nominee who'd be a perfect fit.

  • Joshua | January 29, 2014 10:03 PM

    Shuri has only been the black panther for a few years and that was to further T'challa's story. She has no story for Marvel to use her when she has only existed for like 5 years while T'challa has been around for 48 years

  • Ian | January 28, 2014 3:47 PMReply

    Sinqua Walls

  • Donella | January 28, 2014 2:03 PMReply

    I had not thought past Chiwetel Ejiofer.

  • Julien | January 28, 2014 9:51 AMReply

    Yann Gael, a french black actor with good physique, he's done theater mostly.
    He's really moving
    And French is à la mode

  • DONELL | January 28, 2014 2:41 PM

    Is that him?

  • Tamika LaShelle | January 28, 2014 2:06 PM

    Yann looks interesting.....

  • ashley | January 28, 2014 3:45 AMReply

    From the show "The Wire" on HBO
    Jamie Hector or Kwame Patterson

    And if you dont know the show or who they are look them up great young unknown talent.

  • Dirk Thomas | January 28, 2014 2:36 AMReply

    Michael Jai White

  • namor521 | January 27, 2014 11:53 PMReply

    michael jai carter

  • Grizz | January 27, 2014 10:58 PMReply

    It has to be an unknown actor that fits the role supported by a stellar cast. That is the winning formula.

  • leelee | January 27, 2014 8:06 PMReply

    I am going to cross my fingers and hope it is not Tyrese. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje would have been my choice ten or more years ago.

  • Vichus | January 27, 2014 7:12 PMReply

    Yes on Chiwetel Ejiofor. He's great, and he's always been a good choice for me. Would they be looking to have a young or older Black Panther in a film?

  • Kurskij | January 27, 2014 4:53 PMReply

    Another one: Laz Alonso. Physique, looks, presence and decent acting chops.

    He is pushing 40 though.

  • Tyler | January 27, 2014 4:30 PMReply

    Yes. There are only two choices in my mind: Nelsan Ellis and David Oyelowo. Nelsan is my first choice (watch him in Veronica Mars Season 3 as a former child soldier and you'll understand what I mean).

    Michael B. Jordan makes commercial sense, but I think we need someone who is more fearsome and commanding a presence. Not sure he has that. John Boyega and Nathan Stewart-James are too young, I think (though if the film takes another 5 years or so to make, i'd put them on my runner-up list, with a slight preference for Boyega because he has some gravity and depth to him).

  • Tamika LaShelle | January 28, 2014 2:08 PM

    I could not remember Nelsan name... I agree as a possibility.

  • Kurskij | January 27, 2014 4:03 PMReply

    Michael B. Jordan if he pulls a chrisevans (he is in Fantastic Four reboot, right?).

    Otherwise - Kevin Hart could really... elevate it.

  • Yvette | January 27, 2014 3:55 PMReply

    Sinqua Walls - hands down.

  • Tamika LaShelle | January 28, 2014 2:08 PM

    That's what I was trying to say!!!!

  • thatstlphoenix | January 28, 2014 1:59 AM

    ^^^ YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!! Perfect for a new budding actor. I think he has MA training too, but not sure.

  • jim | January 27, 2014 3:46 PMReply

    imagine getting Bakhad Abdi for Black Panther. Get him working out a bit and develop a character beyond his somali pirate. That would be interesting

  • Rick | January 27, 2014 3:12 PMReply

    I don't think you have to necessarily limit yourself to just young(er) actors. Black Panther, like Reed Richards, was introduced very young but has carried a certain maturity with them that casting older actors wouldn't seem unreal. That might nix an origin story for Black Panther, but there are other stories to tell.

    With Michael Douglas playing Hank Pym (a casting decision i am definitely excited about) the argument "Djimon Honsou is too old" kind of goes out the window.

    To throw a new name out there though, what about Chris Chalk from The Newsroom and Homeland. He might be a little short for a superhero, but he was a convincing threat in Homeland.

  • Rick | January 27, 2014 7:07 PM

    Paul Rudd who is only 5 years younger than Djimon, and Djimon is still in terrific shape from last I saw

    Oh yea I definitely forgot he was in Guardians. So its moot anyway

  • G. Boney | January 27, 2014 6:30 PM

    Michael Douglas isn't the star/main character of the movie, though. Paul Rudd is.

    On top of Honsou being too old for the role (IMO), he's also already playing a character in marvel's Gaurdians of the Galaxy. They haven't used an actor for two roles yet and I don't think they're gonna start with Honsou.

  • Tamika LaShelle | January 27, 2014 1:55 PMReply

    I like the idea of David Oyelowo in the role... it would be nice to see him spread his wings.... but I question his height. John Boyega would be nice too.... but I think the real Black Panther has yet to be found... or is still very wet behind the ears when it comes to the big screen like Sinqua Walls.

    Love is... TL

  • Elias | January 27, 2014 1:53 PMReply

    AAA has the physicality, unpredictability and the edge. He was born for this role and he needs to step up and do a screen test to convince the studio.

  • Rick | January 27, 2014 3:16 PM

    I like the guy but he has unfortunately been cast in a previous Marvel movie. If they try to keep the idea of a shared universe, I don't see them re-hiring many actors.

  • Victor B | January 27, 2014 1:40 PMReply

    If I had the power to cast it. I would cast Mike Colter (Men in Black 3).

  • Tom Haverford | January 27, 2014 1:39 PMReply

    I like the idea of John Boyega in the part, but I think the best candidate is Sinqua Walls. He's been on a bunch of tv stuff already, so he's somewhat recognizable, and he's got the physique and charm to pull off a superhero leading role. He deserves to be an A-lister too, so it's a win all around.

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