10 Things You Might Not Know About Black Panther

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In 2018, the King of Wakanda will make his long-awaited journey to the big screen in his first solo outing and based on the first teaser trailer, it looks like Black Panther will be unlike anything the Marvel Cinematic Universe has delivered to date. However, while longtime comic book readers will be effortlessly able to spot the connections to the source material, those who are new to comics or simply new to the character might need a little crash course in Black Panther history.

Thankfully, we here at Epicstream have you covered. Here are 10 things you might not know about Black Panther:

  1. He Debuted In An Issue Of Fantastic Four

    Black Panther, like many of Marvel’s most prominent characters, was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, debuting in July 1966 — not long after major players such as Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Daredevil, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four.

    However, as was often the case with early Marvel creations, the character didn’t debut in his own solo title. Instead, Black Panther’s first appearance came in issue #52 of Fantastic Four. He would then go on to make frequent guest appearances in titles such as Tales of Suspense, The Avengers, Daredevil, and Astonishing Tales. Black Panther’s first starring feature would come in July 1973 in the pages of Jungle Action #5, and his first titular solo series would launch in January 1977, though it was canceled after just 15 issues.

  2. He Predates The Black Panther Party

    Considering Black Panther debuted the same year that the Black Panthers political party was founded, most assume that the character’s namesake is simply a nod to the Black Nationalist and Socialist organization. However, this isn’t entirely true.

    Black Panther was created in July 1966, which predates the founding of the Black Panther party by 3 months. The party’s logo, on the other hand, already existed as it was used by the group’s predecessor known as the Lowndes County Freedom Organization. Additionally, the name “Black Panthers” was also used during World War II by a segregated tank battalion, though they aren’t officially linked to the Black Panther party.

  3. His Name Almost Wasn’t Black Panther (And It Was Even Changed At One Point)

    Keeping in line with the last entry, the origin of Black Panther’s name, according to Stan Lee, actually comes from a pulp adventure hero who was aided by a black panther. However, when the character was being conceptualized, Jack Kirby used the name “Coal Tiger,” and the character was imagined sporting a drastically different costume than the one he traditionally wears.

     Thankfully, the name and concept art never made it past Kirby’s drawing board, but that doesn’t mean Black Panther was completely in the clear. Since many people understandably assumed that the character’s name was a reference to the aforementioned Black Panther party, he was briefly renamed Black Leopard to avoid confusion. This wouldn’t last, though, as the name wasn’t favorably received by readers of creators.

  4. He Was The First Black Superhero In Mainstream Comics

    Prior to Black Panther’s inception, black heroes did exist in comics, but they were few and far between, and none of them had actual superpowers. When Black Panther finally debuted, it represented a major milestone in the comic book industry, setting the stage for other African-American icons including The Falcon (1969) and Luke Cage (1972) from the Marvel side, as well as Green Lantern John Stewart (1971) and Black Lightning (1977) over at DC Comics.

  5. He Was Married To Storm

    In 1980, longtime X-Men writer Chris Claremont established that Storm and Black Panther had crossed paths when they were young, but that’s about as far as he delved into the matter. In 2006, though, their history was retconned, depicting the characters as love-struck adolescents and setting the stage for the pair’s marriage in a Wakandan ceremony that was attended by most of Marvel’s big-name characters.

    Unfortunately, the marriage wouldn’t last. In 2012, it was annulled when Namor attacked Wakanda, with T’Challa deciding that he needed to focus more of his efforts on being a King than a husband. In general, though, many believe the true reason for the split-up was because of the movie rights for the two characters being owned by different studios, with Black Panther under the roof of Marvel Studios and Storm wrapped up in 20th Century Fox’s X-Men rights. If Black Panther were to become too closely associated with Storm, there would be an obvious void when the character came to the big screen, so it’s hardly outside the realm of possibilities that their separation was simply a bit of forward thinking by the publisher.

  6. He Has A Ph.D. From Oxford University

    As longtime comic book readers know, there is a definitive, though often changing, ranking of the smartest individuals in the Marvel Universe. Included on this list are names such as Reed Richards, Tony Stark, Amadeus Cho, and – you guessed it – Black Panther. In fact, Black Panther even earned a Ph.D. in Physics from the prestigious Oxford University, with a genius-level intellect in physics, engineering, economics, politics, psychology, and advanced technology.

  7. He Once Took Over For Daredevil

    After the events of Shadowland – an event which saw Daredevil become possessed by a demon beast of the Hand – Matt Murdock decided he needed to leave Hell’s Kitchen for the time being. Fortuitously enough, Black Panther was at a point where he felt that he needed to rediscover himself, so the two made a deal and T’Challa took over as the protector of Hell’s Kitchen in Daredevil’s absence.

    With a little help from Foggy Nelson, T’Challa went under the guise of Mr. Okonkwo, an immigrant from the Congo who managed the Devil’s Kitchen diner. This not only allowed T’Challa to shield his true identity, but it also allowed him to blend in and learn about the denizens as an ordinary man, befriending his kitchen staff and neighbors in the process.

  8. He’s Had A Number Of Team Affiliations

    Black Panther is a character who, in a sense, gets around. That is to say, he’s been a member of a vast number of groups/teams in the Marvel Universe. His extensive resume includes stints on:

    The Avengers

    The Secret Avengers

    The Defenders

    The Fantastic Four

    Fantastic Force

    The Illuminati

    The Ultimates

  9. Black Panther Is A Hereditary Ceremonial Title

    Black Panther is more than just a name T’Challa uses while engaging in superheroics – it’s the ceremonial title given to the chieftain of the Panther Tribe of Wakanda. In addition to ruling the country, The Black Panther is also the chief of its various tribes (collectively referred to as the Wakandas), acting as Head of State and taking part in diplomatic missions. However, even though the Black Panther is a hereditary title, one still must earn it through a series of physical, moral, and mental trials.

    After his father T’Chaka’s death, T’Challa’s uncle S’yan successfully passed the trials to become the Black Panther since T’Challa was still too young, despite being next in line to hold the title. Eventually, when he came of age, T’Challa would go on to earn the title and attributes of the Black Panther by defeating the various champions of the Wakandan tribes.

  10. His Powers Come From A Heart-Shaped Herb

    Black Panther’s powers include superhuman senses, strength, speed, agility, stamina, durability, healing, and reflexes. However, these aren’t the result of a lab accident, a genetic mutation, radiation exposure, etc. Instead, they’re the result of eating a special heart-shaped herb.

    Eating this herb is a privilege reserved only for the chieftain of the Panther tribe, giving its user a powerful mystical connection to the Wakandan Panther God. The herb, however, is poisonous in nature, but only to those outside of the royal bloodline, who have a hereditary immunity to its toxic effects. Longtime Black Panther foe Erik Killmonger learned this the hard way, falling into a coma after defeating T’Challa in ritual battle and eating the herb.