Black Panther ascends to the throne on February 16, when director Ryan Coogler will make his Afrofuturist-inspired contribution to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Black Panther is the first spin-off for the Marvel character, but as with all things in the MCU, he’s already carrying a lot of baggage. So The A.V. Club assembled this primer to prepare you for Marvel’s next hit.
Created in 1966 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Black Panther made his first appearance in Fantastic Four issue #52. But due to fears of the political implications of having a character seemingly named after the revolutionaries in the Black Panther party, T’Challa’s superhero alter ego was briefly renamed Black Leopard. The character quickly moved from Fantastic Four second-stringer to full-fledged Avenger in 1968, where again, Marvel tried to disassociate from politics by calling the character “The Panther.” But regardless of his moniker, T’Challa has been Wakanda’s greatest defender.
The movie will contain appearances by many staple characters from the comic book, including Wakandan exile Erik Killmonger, M’Baku (who goes by the unfortunate title Man-Ape in the comics), the parasitic Ulysses Klaue, and the fierce Dora Milaje. Expectations are high for the character’s first solo outing, with the assumption that the film will set up the big showdown in Infinity War.