Marvel has their Movieverse all planned out through The Avengers but after that…? As far as we know it’s all a big question mark. There’s been talk of the studio planning for a big something in 2017, but that’s impossibly far off.
I suspect that there will be no hard decisions made about post-The Avengers Marvel Movieverse until after this summer, when the Thor and Captain America dust settles. But in the meantime Marvel has to have stuff in the hopper, and now we know what one of those stuffs is: Black Panther.
The character has been looooong in development; the last major push with the character was when Wesley Snipes was going to play him. The king of the African nation of Wakanda, T’Challa is granted superhuman powers by eating a special heart shaped herb. Black Panther isn’t his superhero name so much as it’s his title - the Black Panther is the ceremonial protector of his tribe. Wakanda isn’t some backwards-ass African nation; as the only source of the precious fictional metal Vibranium Wakanda has managed to become very wealthy and is technologically advanced.
The Black Panther is the first ever black superhero, and he appeared in the pages of Fantastic Four before the Black Panther party came on the scene, but they didn’t get their name from him - both appeared just months apart in 1966. In fact Marvel briefly tried changing his name to Black Leopard to remove any connection to the militant group.
Marvel, being Marvel, has made an out of left field choice for the film’s writer. Mark Bailey, who has only previously written or been story editor on documentaries, will be handling scripting. The next question, of course, is who will be starring. Marvel might wait until the fall or early 2012 to get on the talent search, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see T’Challa (or his father, T’Chaka) pop up in The Avengers in a cameo. This will surely be the most hotly contested role among younger black actors, and there are a lot of actors whose careers could ascend to the next level if they book the job and the movie is done right.
Also potentially interesting: will Marvel throw in white characters to appeal to a wider audience? The obvious choice for a Black Panther movie villain is Klaw, who kills T’Challa’s father and thus moves the hero to the throne (and into the Black Panther identity, which was his father’s before him). Klaw is technically a white guy, although he’s been transformed into solid sound and is mostly pinkish. But could Marvel give T’Challa a white best buddy to share the poster with him? Will white America come see a Marvel movie without white leads?