You might think of the summer as the big movie season, but Marvel is starting early this year. Their newest movie Black Panther is one of the most anticipated movies of 2018, and it’ll bring some much-needed power to the box office at this time of year. We love a good superhero movie, and in recent times Marvel has really raised their quality level to a higher standard.
You won’t want to skip Black Panther whether you’re a Marvel fanatic or completely clueless, but there’s always so much to learn about these comic book universes. These surprising facts are the perfect way to get in the mood to watch (or re-watch) the newest addition to the MCU.
16. The Black Panther is the richest superhero
When you think about which Marvel characters have a lot of money, T’Challa might not immediately come to mind. Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) is a billionaire, with his massive fortune coming from his weapons company. Stark might be a little more flashy with his wealth, but T’Challa really has it all. One estimate puts his imagined wealth at over $90 billion, which is more money than anyone could ever need. I guess vibranium really is a hot commodity, huh?
15. He first appeared in a comic in 1966
If your parents grew up reading comic books, they might remember the Black Panther from way back when. He’s a classic Marvel character, dating back more than 50 years. His first appearance was in Fantastic Four #52, which came out in July 1966. He was created by OG Marvel masterminds Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, who were responsible for dozens of the most famous heroes over the years. Stan Lee is still around, and he makes small cameos in most of the new Marvel movies.
14. He was the first superhero of African descent
A lot has changed in 50 years, but Black Panther was a trailblazer at the time he was first created. In mainstream American comics, there had never been a hero of African descent before, so it’s a good thing Marvel made it happen. In the years since, there have been other iconic black superheroes like Blade and Luke Cage, who recently got a Netflix series, but Black Panther still tops the list. Many areas of the entertainment industry still need to make a lot of progress with diversity and representation, and Black Panther is an important step. 50 years later, there’s still a lot to be done, and Black Panther is still at the forefront of equality.
13. It’s also the first MCU movie with a predominantly black cast
Speaking of diversity in the entertainment industry, Black Panther isn’t stopping at its lead actor. The majority of the cast is black, but they weren’t just cast for the color of their skin. Leading the supporting cast are the amazingly talented Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o and current Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya, both of whom are complete badasses. They’re joined by Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, and Michael B. Jordan, among lots of others. Remember all these names, because they’re going to be huge.
12. Chadwick Boseman first played the part in Captain America: Civil War
Everything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is connected somehow, so Black Panther didn’t just come out of nowhere. In the 2016 movie Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa was introduced to this new era of Marvel movies, setting up the basis for his standalone movie. Chadwick Boseman was a standout in his first appearance, so it’s exciting to see what he’ll do with the character in a full movie. Boseman has had plenty of career success before, but headlining a superhero movie is pretty next level. Lucky for us, he seems completely up to the challenge.
11. A Black Panther movie has been in development since the 1990s
With these giant movie projects, it can take a lot of time to get things right. While Black Panther has appeared in multiple animated shows and movies before, the live-action movie took its sweet time. Way back in 1992, actor Wesley Snipes announced that he was working on a film adaptation, but it fell through after multiple failed attempts to get it off the ground. Then, in 2005, Marvel announced a list of ten movies based on Marvel characters that they planned to make, and Black Panther made the cut. They obviously took their time getting around to it, but it’ll all be worth it.
10. Black Panther was filmed in Atlanta and Busan, South Korea
As cool as it may look in the movie, Wakanda isn’t actually a real place. That means that filming had to take place somewhere else, and most of it was done in the Atlanta area. Atlanta might not look like a mythical technologically-advanced African kingdom, but luckily CGI and a green screen can act like magic. Additional filming was also done in Busan, South Korea. From what we know, this was mainly a huge car chase scene along the river in Busan, because sometimes the green screen just doesn’t do it. Wakanda isn’t real, but we can definitely use our imaginations.
9. It’s the eighteenth Marvel Cinematic Universe film in just 10 years
Marvel Studios really does not mess around. Since Iron Man came out in May of 2008, they’ve put out an astounding 18 films in less than 10 years. And don’t forget, these are huge productions with high budgets and crazy special effects, not some little movies that can be shot and edited quickly. There are no breaks on the horizon, either. The much-anticipated Avengers: Infinity War is due out in May, followed by an Ant-Man sequel in July. Considering how hard it is to get out of bed sometimes, this is seriously impressive stuff.
8. It had one of the largest advance ticket sales ever
Marvel really cranks out a lot of movies, but people love them just as much as ever. The advance ticket sales for Black Panther have broken multiple records in different parts of the world, and the expected opening gross for the movie was over $150 million. That’s a number not many movies have been able to get over, which could make Black Panther one of the biggest movies ever. If the movie really does this well, they’ll probably be making a sequel by the end of the month. T’Challa is seriously good at creating hype.
7. Kendrick Lamar produced the soundtrack
The cast comprises some of the best talent in the movie industry, and the music was handled by one of the top names in hip-hop. Kendrick Lamar is easily one of the best rappers of his generation, and he was in charge of curating the soundtrack for the movie. Kendrick also performs on a majority of the album’s songs, but the list of collaborators is pretty great too. Guests include The Weeknd, Travis Scott, and SZA, representing some of the most current sounds in music. Black Panther is going to be an absolutely huge movie, and Kendrick Lamar created an album worthy of it. Is there anything he can’t do?
6. Director Ryan Coogler is a lifelong Marvel fan
Getting tapped to direct a major blockbuster film like this is a huge step in any director’s career, but Ryan Coogler wasn’t just in it for the money. He’s spoken about growing up with Marvel comics, and how Black Panther was always important to him. Considering that most of these movies are directed by white dudes, it’ll be nice to see a fresh take on the superhero formula. Coogler’s past work includes smaller but critically acclaimed movies like Fruitvale Station and Creed, both of which star Michael B. Jordan. It’ll be great to see what Ryan Coogler can do when given a huge budget and an incredible fantasy world to work with.
5. The other Avengers are sitting this one out
As much fun as the Avengers movies are, it can be good to switch things up. When there are so many characters to focus on, everyone can only get so much focus, but this time it’s just T’Challa. We can’t wait to get a look at Wakanda and all the other characters there, and also to see him fight a villain without the whole gang around. We’ll get to see all the Avengers back together in just a few months, and Black Panther will be right there, too. But for now, everyone else can go back to doing… whatever Avengers do in their normal lives?
4. T’Challa is in the Illuminati
While there are lots of celebrities who might be in the Illuminati, Black Panther definitely is. Well, kind of. Back in 2005, Marvel Comics created a new group of superheroes called the Illuminati, and Black Panther was one of their members for a while. Other former members include Iron Man, Captain America, and Doctor Strange, which really sounds more fun than whatever the deal is with the real-life Illuminati. Unless Beyoncé‘s actually in it, then sign me up.
3. He’s also the first royal Avenger
Money, Illuminati membership, royal status… this guy has everything! While some superheroes have normal day jobs or just kind of sit around doing nothing, T’Challa is literally the King of an entire country. Wakanda is a made up country somewhere in Africa, and they’re super rich and technologically advanced because they’re the natural source of vibranium. That’s a super-strong kind of metal, if you haven’t been paying attention. It’s pretty crazy that T’Challa has time to be a King and a superhero, but he’s a fictional character so he makes it work.
2. His warrior bodyguards are all women
We like this story more and more. In Wakanda, there are a special group of warrior bodyguards called the Dora Milaje, and they’re all women. No boys allowed! Just like Wonder Woman, it’s so great to see a story where the women can be strong all on their own, and kick some butt now and then. There’s nothing wrong with having male warriors, but women can do it, too. It’s probably only a matter of time before Dora Milaje workout classes become the next hot fitness trend.
1. His sister was the actual Black Panther for a while
Continuing this trend of women being able to do the tough jobs, even Black Panther can be a woman. It’s a family title that’s passed down, and at one point in the comics, T’Challa’s sister Shuri steps into the superhero role. She has all the same powers as her brother and is also an advanced martial artist. She’s also literally bulletproof, which is pretty insane. Letitia Wright plays Shuri in the movie, and we can’t wait to see her in action.