black panther civil war

We’ve known for well over a year now that Captain America: Civil War would feature the Marvel Cinematic Universe debut of Black Panther and that he would be played by Chadwick Boseman. However, we have only been able to speculate on how this character, a prince from the fictional African nation of Wakanda who has inherited the powers and abilities of his royal family, fits into the quickly escalating beef between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark.

Now, the details have been revealed! It turns out that Black Panther, a.k.a. T’Challa, is a neutral party with his own interests… and that his allegiance may shift between Team Iron Man and Team Captain America, depending on who will best help him achieve his goals.

Hit the jump for all of the necessary Black Panther Civil War details.

Our first proper look at the cinematic Black Panther arrived in the first trailer for Civil War, where we saw the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first black superhero pose dramatically, outrun Steve Rogers, and kick Bucky Barnes in the face. A less impressive look arrived earlier today in the form of an Entertainment Weekly cover, which, in true Entertainment Weekly fashion, buried the character behind text and lousy jokes. A Real Housewives gag? Really, guys?

But also in true Entertainment Weekly fashion, the reporting behind that cover turned out to be a wonderful glimpse at who Black Panther is and what he means to the MCU. It sounds like T’Challa is going to shake up the the lives of Captain America and Iron Man in a pretty big way.

Captain America: Civil War executive producer Nate Moore calls this newcomer “the undecided voter” in the brawl between the MCU’s two biggest heroes, saying:

He’s someone who hasn’t necessarily made up his mind about either side and whose agenda isn’t exactly what Cap’s agenda or what Tony’s agenda is. And I think that brings him into conflict weirdly with both characters at different times in the film. He is the prince of an African nation that has so far stayed very much sort of in the shadows. And eventually the film will draw him and his father out of the shadows.

And it turns out that living a life in the shadows has not made T’Challa the most gracious or warmhearted guy. Boseman says we definitely shouldn’t expect a wisecracker like Tony or a straight-shooter like Steve:

He’s definitely not the life of the party in this instance. I think this is something true of the comic book character and the movie. You never quite know where he stands. There’s always a bit of concealing and mystery. So I think mysterious is more his boat. Not to say there’s not charm and he can’t be a ladies’ man and all that. It’s more like if there is humor, it’s more like James Bond.

And while Black Panther has been traditionally depicted as an older, more seasoned hero, this version of T’Challa will be young and a little inexperienced. As a superhero who has to represent an entire nation wherever he goes, there is a lot of pressure on this guy’s shoulders. After all, he is the latest in a long line of Black Panthers to have defended Wakanda’s interests. As Boseman says:

There definitely is a sort of tradition that he’s torn between, in terms of how things were done in the past and how things need to happen now in this new world. I think there’s perhaps a bit of a maverick there, and then there’s also a need to live up to traditions and his father’s legacy. And not even his father’s legacy, but the entire nation of Wakanda. I think those are the things you will see.

Although we haven’t seen Black Panther himself in an MCU movie yet, we did pay a visit to Wakanda in Avengers: Age of Ultron… where the Hulk and Iron Man practically destroyed an entire city in a brutal brawl. No wonder this guy finds it necessary to intervene in Avengers business.

The EW article also explains that Black Panther’s uniform isn’t cloth – it’s very thin chainmail constructed entirely out of Vibranium, the indestructible (and fictional) metal that was used to craft Captain America’s shield. This makes sense, since Wakanda is the world’s only source of this precious metal, which, in the pages of the Marvel comic book universe, has transformed the country into a wealthy, technologically advanced paradise.

And yes, his claws are also made of Vibranium, which means we’re certainly going to get a shield versus claws battle. Place your bets now, folks.

Captain America: Civil War opens on May 6, 2016. Black Panther’s solo movie will arrive nearly two years later on February 16, 2018.

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