After stealing the cinematic show in last year's Captain America: Civil War—no small feat in a movie with over a dozen superheroes in it—Marvel Studios has begun production on the next standalone superfilm, director Ryan Coogler's solo Black Panther (which commenced principal photography on Thursday). And now we finally know a bit more about the plot itself. (Read on for spoilers!)
From the mouths of Marvel:
Black Panther follows T’Challa who, after the events of Captain America: Civil War, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to take his place as King. However, when an old enemy reappears on the radar, T’Challa’s mettle as King and Black Panther is tested when he is drawn into a conflict that puts the entire fate of Wakanda and the world at risk.
If this sounds familiar to the comic book fans out there, it should!
Given the characters we know are confirmed to be involved—Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia, Danai Gurira (Michonne!) as Okoye, Angela Bassett as T'Challa's mother Queen Ramonda, Forest Whitaker as elder statesman Zuri, Daniel Kaluuya as W'Kabi (one of T'Challa's advisors), Winston Duke as M'Baku / Man-Ape, Florence Kasumba as Ayo, Sterling K. Brown as N'Jobu, ("a figure from T'Challa's past"), and Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman and John Kani reprising their roles as Ulysses Klaue, Everett K. Ross and King T'Chaka—there's plenty to deduce about the potential storylines.
Like previous Marvel Studios films, expect this one to be a "greatest hits" amalgamation from the character's long comic book history—stretching back to his earliest stories from the late '60s, to the more recent comic book runs from creators like Christopher Priest, Reginald Hudlin and Ta-Nehisi Coates. Given that some of the best Black Panther stories revolve around someone trying to take the throne away from T'Challa, overcoming internal/external enemies of Wakanda, and the Black Panther himself rising to the occasion to defend his right to the crown, it feels safe to assume this one'll be an origin story that combines all three.
Will Erik Killmonger stay as supervillain-y as he's been in the comics—since he was once an ally and friend of T'Challa's, who later tried to stage a coup against him?—or will it be N'Jobu that takes that mantle, given the way his veiled description mirrors the synopsis? Might they go more internal, with someone like Queen Ramonda looking for power, or a double-cross from Nakia or Okoye and the Dora Milaje (a.k.a. the king's bodyguards, as run by Okoye)? Anything's possible—including all of the above—as red herrings abound in that vague synopsis. But our money is on Michael B. Jordan becoming one hell of a supervillain for the MCU (and frankly, we're here for it).
One aspect of Black Panther's legacy we won't see, however, is T'Challa's courtship and marriage to Storm of the X-Men, due to Fox owning the rights to the mutants. (In an alternate universe, though, Lupita Nyong'o would have made for a truly amazing iteration of Storm. Or Angela Basssett for that matter.)
Phylicia Rashad and Atandwa Kani have also been cast in still-undisclosed roles, and the film—which opens in U.S. theaters on February 16, 2018—will be shot in Atlanta and South Korea. What storylines from the comics are you hoping Coogler and Marvel draw from when Black Panther hits theaters? Let us know down below in the comments.
Images & GIFs: Marvel Studios
Here's everything you need to know about Black Panther's origins: