By Kaylee Brewster
Black Panther is not only the first African superhero in the Marvel universe; he’s the first African superhero in mainstream American comic books.
His creation by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in July 1966 predates the start of the Black Panther Party later that year, so the name has no ties to the group other than coincidence. Lee also claims the name is not affiliated with World War II’s 761st Tank Battalion, nicknamed the Black Panthers. For a brief time Black Panther was called Black Leopard to avoid connotations with the Black Panther Party, but obviously that didn’t stick.
In the comic, Black Panther is a title given to the ruler of Wakanda, so there have been many Black Panthers in Marvel history. However, the most notable, and the one featured in the film opening Friday, is T’Challa, King of Wakanda. His suit is made of the fictional metal vibranium that is nearly indestructible and can absorb almost anything thrown at it. The suit has other technologically advanced features sure to be shown off on screen. T’Challa is very intelligent, being both a strategist and scientist. He is also a master of many forms of combat, including weaponry. So, he’s a king who can personally beat up invaders without breaking a sweat.
The fictional African nation of Wakanda is the most technologically advanced country in the world. However, nature is equally important and is blended into Wakandan cities and tech, and the country is described as a utopia. It is shut off from the outside world to protect itself from being soiled by outsiders who don’t understand its balance.
The Black Panther character and film depict an African hero admired for his abilities and an African country respected for its innovation. Enemies of Black Panther and Wakanda might want to think twice before messing with this superhero warrior king.