'Black Panther' movie in development: Could Marvel's first black superhero finally make it to the big screen?

black-pantherImage Credit: MarvelThe Black Panther doesn’t have the same name recognition as fellow Marvel superheroes Spider-Man and Wolverine, but he’s one of the most interesting characters in comic book history. Debuting in the mid-’60s, the Panther is generally credited as the first African-American superhero in mainstream comic books. (He actually predated the founding of far-left-wing ’60s group of the same name.) There’s been talk of a Black Panther movie for decades now, without any success, but it looks like Marvel is willing to try again: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Marvel Studios has hired documentarian Mark Bailey to draft a Black Panther screenplay.

The Panther’s superpowers aren’t very interesting. He’s super-strong and super-agile, he occasionally sprouts claws, and his senses are all enhanced, which makes him a grab-bag mix of Daredevil, Wolverine, and BraveStarr. But the mythology around the character is fascinating. King of the (fictional) African nation Wakanda, the Panther’s long comic history is dotted with intriguingly political story arcs. The Panther’s status as an actual political force gives him a unique topical resonance lacking in, say, Ghost Rider. So even though Bailey has primarily worked on documentaries with titles like Pandemic: Facing AIDS and Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, he might be the right choice for the material.

PopWatchers, are you excited by the prospect of a Panther movie? Who would you like to see suit up for the role? Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje might be a little old at this point, unfortunately, but the role seems built for Mr. Eko’s gravitas. Any Panther fans want to sound off about plotlines they’d like to see in the movie?

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  • tracy bluth

    Awesome! Now all I have to do is sell my idea for Jon Hamm as Dr. Strange (the hero, not the Batman villain).

    • mike

      As long as they make some changes on the outfit like in storm hunters part one and two . Its more realistic the old outfit has him looking like a brokedown batman

      • mike

        I think it is time for Panther to have his own animated series on cartoon network

  • Taylor

    Thanks for the news. But remember, he’s black and African, not African-American.

    • Stoney

      That’s just what I thought! He’s African (not American). Either way, I’m glad they are moving forward with a Black Panther movie. I really like Idris Elba (just saw Takers yesterday) but I’m not sure he has the action/athleticism needed for the part.

      Tyrese Gibson?

      • harry

        he is African

      • Keenan

        Noo, Not tyrese he’s already set to play luke cage…im thinking Micheal Jai White, or wesley snipes

      • Jamaaliver

        What about Boris Kodjoe?

      • love108

        Watch Idris Elba in Legacy – he would be perfect for this

      • Blasian

        Boris Kodjoe???? Are u kidding? That man can’t act his way out of a paper bag. Everything he’s in fails! This sounds too good of a movie to cast weak talent.

      • Carlton

        I think MECHAD BROOKS would be perfect for this role…he played Eggs on True Blood and he was on Desperate Housewives and in those State Farm commercials with Jessica White…

      • markus waters

        Djimon Hounsou is the only guy for this roll. Oscar-nominated, regal, ripped and respected!

      • Voidrider

        Djimon Hounsou has always been the one I would pick for the role and he has already done voice over work on the animated Black Panther.

      • gkhaleel@hotmail.com

        Djmon Honshou for black panther

      • alysha Lawrence

        I WOULD LOVE IF IDRIS ELBA PLAYED THE PANTHER PERFECT FIT! INTELLECT AND SEXY STATURE!

      • cornelius lamb

        idris elba is already another character in the marvel universe, heimdall in thor, but hey Chris Evans is captain america and the human torche. Micheal Jai White should be the only actor to play the role. If you can get him get Djimon Hounsou, black guy from blood diamond.

      • Therealeverton

        No the Chris Evans situation is completely different. The Fantastic Four films are 20th Century Fox films and NOTHING to do with Marvel Studios. Therefore they are not in the MCU and actors can play any MArvel character for another studio without affecting their appearance in MCU film. Hence Idris Elba being in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. You can’t, realistically, play a character in Iron Man and then a different character in Thor or Incredible Hulk; because those films are all connected. But Spider-Man, Blade, Ghost Rider, X-Men, Daredevil etc, those films are NOt connected to the MArver Cinematoc Universe at all, so you could have Robert Downey Jnr. as Daredevil and Chris Hemsworth as The Thing if you wanted; but Hemsworth couldn’t pay Moon Knight or Wonderman as they re characters owned and by MArvel Studios.

      • martymar

        terry crews from everybody hates chris should be like cage

    • Rissa

      SO F-ING WHAT!!!! HE’S BLACK!!! AFRICAN OR AFRICAN AMERICAN OR BRITISH!!!! BLACK IS BLACK

      • jeh

        why are you shouting and who are you arguing with? of course he’s black. the point is he’s an african. not an american. and the distinction is important within the context of comic.

      • TeaOli

        Umm. No. It’s not. Sorry if this is a revelation, but there are variations among us.

      • sam99999

        TeaOli – “there are variations among us” – Classic!

      • jez

        I get sick of this PC stuff too – and I’m black.

      • Joel

        Actually his nationality doesn’t matter either. Half of the cast of Band of Brothers were english, playing Americans. English, Jamacan, Hatian, Dominican, Tanzanian, Kenyan, Nambibian, American -whatever, as long as they have a good accent coach.

      • Steph10

        I must say that there is a difference from a journalistic, comic book purist, or even a cultural view point. I can trace my family lineage back to slavery, and I consider myself to be an African American, and may even be offended of someone called me an African. Although this is a fruitless argument (and pointless due to the forum), there are many differences culturally that both sides of the fence acknowledge.

      • Infamous

        Marvel’s First “Black” Super Hero – hmmm coulda sworn there is another That has had not 1,not 2 but 3 big sceen movies… what’s his name.. vamp guy.Daywalker type ohh yeah BLADE… and I agree Djimon Hounsou or mayb even Mike Jai White would be a good fit.. Black African doesn’t matter still human..

      • therealeverton

        Sorry Infamous, you’ve got a couple of things wrong. Black Panther was Marvel’s first black hero in their COMICS way back in the 1960s. Secondly Blade wasn’t a Marvel movie ( Marvel Studios) it was a NEw Line movie based on a character licensed from Marvel.

      • good as gold

        Nuf said! These people are dumb.

    • STFU

      BLACK is BLACK! African-Americans are simply Americans of AFRICAN descent. That means, before we were stolen and brought to this country we were AFRICANS of various nations. Thank you.

      • dale

        you were sold by your own people bro.

      • David

        fyi – 90% of those africans who ended up enslaved were captured and not sold. Those Africans who were sold into slavery were sold by people who had guns to their heads similarly to the way the leaders of Iraq and Afghanistan have guns to their heads now.

      • therealeverton

        African slaves were in the overwheming majority taken by other Africans and then sold; to various people from all over. During Britain’s long process of abolishing Slave trades and then slavery many African Kings appealed to the British Royal family to let it continue. The trade was stamped out by Britain putting guns to the heads of Slave Traders and “forceful” dimplomacy with other nations, where possible, and enforcment by the Royal @Navy where not.

        Anyway leaving aside the fact that technically ALL people originate from Africa if you go far enough back, there’s a distinct difference between African and African American. Panther is black, like me, but like me he is NOT African American. He’s African, I’m British; although to confuse matters I’m also considered (by other black British people) Jamaican as that’s where my parents are from.

        EW changed the headline from “First African AMerican…” to “First Black…” for a reason.

      • MissVampireDiaries

        “before we were stolen” I’m black but that made me crack up, lol.

      • Garbo

        David, In my opinion, a gun to your head is no excuse… Some things are worth dying for… for instance your neighbors children

      • dEE

        You people are funny…and very ignorant. One this is a thread about a comic book character; leave it to a bunch of loonies to take the conversation all the way to the slave trade. Secondly and most importantly, white people PLEASE stop trying to defend/justify/minimize portions of slavery by stating that Africans sold their own people. That portion historically accounts for less than 13% off the entire mid-atlantic slave trade over a 520 year period. Europeans invented chattel slavery, a very specific and cruel institution and other groups followed the CASH. This is no different than Jews who sold out other Jews during the Holocaust or Iraqis turning in other Iraqis for money or other benefit. The fact that some Africans sold people they had captured from tribal wars or other issues does not justify slavery or make black people culpable for it. It makes it look as if you are trying to wipe away some sense of guilt with the tired refrain “you blacks sold your own”. Reality is, you need to stop denying the impact and cruelty of slavery, jim crow, lynchings, institutional racism etc. because you reap the benefits of your ancestors work everyday. Just face it: Europeans implemented some F-ed up crap that destroyed generations of people while making this nation the powerhouse that it is. A variety of nationalities had their hands in it and benefited from it greatly. Those benefits are evident here, not in friggin Africa.

      • therealeverton

        @dEE

        I see what you’re trying to say but there’s always at least two sides to any argument and if certain people insist on accusing every white person of somehow being to blame for slavery, whilst at the same time refusing to acknowledge that other black people played a big part in African slavery, you are going to get this, It isn’t a justification, (for some it is I’m sure but not for all) merely someone saying you know there were Africans,, lots of them, who had a big part to play in this too.

        There’s a need for balance and to be honest a need to remember that those involved are long dead, even if the legacy isn’t. Also however bad historical events were they led us to where we are now and some many or all of us writing on this talkback may not exist at all if not for the darker, as well as lighter, events of history.

      • Stuff Daddy

        I love T’Challa (The Black Panther) this is one of the great comic book characters of all time! Part Batman, part James Bond, part W.E.B. Dubois, part King Arthur all dignified an intelligent superhero!

        The fact that you all have to make this about race issues, especially you white boys (I’m white) get over your damn selves! Relax. Stop thinking you need to always feel like everyone is calling you a racist.. Jeez.. It’s a damn fun action movie!!

    • Mrs T

      i think michael jai white would be perfect he has the build and the martial arts to back it

    • sam

      I AM COMMIHG TO FILL IN FOR THAT SOON,AM FROM AFRICA,THE REAL GOD MADE BLACK PANTHER!JUST STAY TUNED!

    • good as gold

      Uh, idiot we are one in the same people quit trying to seperate us black is black were still prodominately African anyway. so what’s your point?

  • Yolanda

    Idris Elba

    • Alexis

      YES!!!! that’s exactly who came to my mind when i read this

    • Smiles

      Oh goodness YES! YES! YES! Iris Elba would be the perfect fit with his fine and sexy self. mmmmmm mmmmm mmmmmm

    • Save Eeyore

      Idris Elba is already playing Heimdall in Thor.

      • John

        So what? There probably will never be a crossover between Thor & Black Panther in the movies. Chris Evans already played the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four & he’s now playing Captain America, so an actor playing 2 roles in comic movies by the same company doesn’t matter.

      • therealeverton

        Fantastic Four and Captain America are NOT by the same Company. Fantastic Four is a Fox movie and Captain America is a Marvel Studios movie so there is no relation between the two at all; so Chris Evans being the Fantastic Four has as much to do with him being in a Marvel Studios’ film (as Capt. America) as his appearances in the comic book movies Scott Pilgrim, The Losers & TMNT, or the non comic book but Superhero movie Push.
        It’s how Wesley Snipes could play Black Panther despite playing another Marvel hero, Blade, as Blade (kick starter of the current wave of superhero movies) was a New Line film, not a Marvel Studios one.
        Moreover there will almost definitely be a crossover as The Black Panther is a prominent member of The Avengers, as is Thor, and it will be a massive surprise if they don’t meet in an Avengers sequel; possibly even in The Avengers if they cast this movie quickly enough. Marvel Studios are making ALL of their movies in a shared universe (I call it the Marvel Movieverse, but officially it’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU); so any of them can appear in person, on TV or in conversation in ANY of the other’s movies. Tony Stark was in The Incredible Hulk as was Stark Industries’ tech, S.H.I.E.L.D and the work of Nick Fury; not to mention the Suspended animation Capt. America, as well as The Super Soldier Serum; Capt. America’s shield was in Iron Man & Iron Man II; Asgardian “tech” is the MacGuffin in Captain America, which features appearances from Howard Stark AND Nick Fury and……..well you get the idea.

      • Captain Confederacy

        Didn’t know there were any black Norsemen or gods for that matter. Although I have it on good faith that the Devil is black.

      • MissVampireDiaries

        @Captain Confederacy
        You don’t believe Norse Mythology, but you believe in Judeo-Christian mythology?

        Also, how do you know the Devil is black?

      • therealeverton

        You’ve probably never read Thor (most people never read comics so no big deal), but one of The major Asgardian characters is called Hogun The Grim; He’s basically a Mongol. Also the Norse gods, the 2nd wave featuring Odin Thor & co were considered Indo-European / Asian so their colour is always open to interpretation if needs be.

        But here’s the salient point. In Marvel, and from what I know of this film, this is the way they are being treated. They are effectively Aliens (even though they may have originated on Earth waaaaay before humans). Having a mixture of science and magic, extremely long life, but NOT immortality. Now if Alien godlike beings with near invulnerability and science enhanced magical powers can only be white because of a mistaken belief about their origins there’s something wrong.

        Thor’s gonna fight a giant suit of magic armour, wield a massive hammer that no one but he can lift, fly by throwing his hammer around and travel between dimension on a rainbow bridge; but one black dude is going to knock you out of “suspension of disbelief” and make the film unwatchable? Do Marvel need to erase Hogun from Thor’s continuity? What about Beta-Ray Bill (Thor)? The Frost giants? What about Bob?

      • eh

        FYI..Thor and Black Panther meeting in the movies is almost assured of happening. They both were members of The Avengers.

    • Earl

      Idris Elba is an awesome idea! Yeah, hes doing the Thor thing, but he’d be a fantastic choice.

    • Usizzle

      i would pick him as the father and micheal jai white as T’Challa

      • james

        micheal jai white, he already preformed well in spawn

  • javi

    anything is good as long they don’t remake daredevil or x-men and i hope for the black panther they call a young actor also i had in my mind wesley snipes for the panther but now is too late and i had hopes that will smith could do it but now he’s training more of his kids to be singers and actors and denzel is too old so they should get some one new just my opinion.

    • John

      Wesley Snipes has been talking about doing Black Panther since before he made Blade. He was set to star & produce it over 10 years ago, but it fell into development hell. It was actually given a green light to film at one point & then nothing happened. I clearly remember that because I’ve been looking forward to it for about 12 years. Lets hope they base the character off of Christopher Priest’s run in the comics & not the godawful Reginald Hudlin run.

      • iggy

        Well it won’t be Wesley Snipes,cause he’s in jail now!

  • Josie

    Having no background, other than what you have just written, I say chiwetel ejiofor. He can do anything.

    • Juanita

      Hello, did you see Amistad?? Or any of Djimon Hounsou’s films? Hands down the man for the job.

      • paige

        Djimon Hounsou all the way!

      • the_girl

        that’s exactly who I thought of, I would love to see Djimon in this role. Although Chiwetel is also a good option and, let’s be real, I’m going to see this no matter who they cast.

      • AyTee Scruggs

        Djimon Hounsou as The Black Panther. im ready to start this petition RIGHT now.

      • Save Eeyore

        I agree completely. I have wanted to see Djimon Hounsou as the Black Panther for years.

      • harry

        Djimon Hounsou no doubt

      • kyle

        yes i did see Amistad. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Djimon Hounsou are both in Amistad. Either would be good.

      • Callie K.

        Djimon Hounsou!! I love him!!

      • Usizzle

        he would be best for T’challa’s father the one that dies but mike jai white hands down as the sun to take up the mantel

      • Usizzle

        Djimon Hounsou would be best for T’challa’s father the one that dies but mike jai white hands down as the sun to take up the mantel

    • Mole

      Ooooo, good choice! Chiwetel’s got great gravitas.

    • Rick G

      Agreed on Chiwetel Ejiofor. He has the acting chops and he can do tough and heroic.

    • FM

      Chiwetel Ejiofor was the first person that came to mind too. I think that he can bring dignity to the character.

      • FM

        Which is not to say these other actors cannot bring dignity to the character, but what I should have said was dignity and intelligence.

    • TeaOli

      Chiwetel Ejiofor love. But I want him for M’Benga in Star Trek.

      I’m with the folks calling Djimon Hounsou as BP.

    • tess

      Chiwetel is my first pick sure.. for many years I thouht he was a trained martial artist (check him out in Serenity), but learned recently he had no formal training. His acting is SUPERB and his fight movments are sooo fluid. That said, I just read that Chiwetel is up for the TChalla part in BP, so I’d be happy just to see him in the movie PERIOD! yayyy, I hope he gets it.

      • kyle

        watch him in Red Belt

    • BandAid

      Djimon Hounsou is a great actor, but getting a bit long in the tooth (almost 47 now); Ejiofor is a good choice…

  • D

    This is great.. maybe Idriss elba or Chiwetel Ejiofor (the black guy in Salt and Firefly); Djimon Hounsou would have been nice, but I am sure he will be found too old! for eye candy and mainsteam..maybe Shemar Moore…(it’s like he does not age man!)

    • CBREEZY

      theres also a new guy tryin to come up. his name is marsesse champ(i might be spellin it wrong), new talent, also a fight coordinator in movies. prime choice for a new black action dude!!

    • Eric

      I agree that Ejiofor would be perfect for the part. He was great in Firefly and he has a somewhat “regal” presence that T’Challa emanates. Of all the names mentioned, I picture T’Challa having the same “voice”. I think Djimon is too old and I have always found it hard to understand him on screen, despite his acting chops.

  • UGH

    Djimon Hounsou

    • harry

      hell yes!!!

    • Darrel

      Djimon Hounsou is the Brother for this job.

    • just zac

      What about drake, dude from degrassi, the rapper guy he could do it

  • KC

    Matt Damon.
    Revenge for casting a white Kingpin in Daredevil.
    *kidding!*

    • Nick

      they also made nick fury black haha

      • Mark Lato

        They made Nick Fury black, because in the Marvel Ultimates Universe, he IS black, and when they re-imagined his image, the artists inspiration WAS Samuel L. Jackson, which makes is so great that he’s playing the part.

      • jbeazy

        In reality they made Nick Fury black because they could get Sam Jack…The man can open a film.

      • therealeverton

        NO they made Fury black in The Ultimate Marvel universe, for various reasons. Then, when Mark Millar started creating the ?ultimates (The Ultimate Universe version of the Avengers he asked Samuel L Jackson if he could model Fury on him (He was already black, but looked nothing like Jackson) and then he was drawn like Jackson and spoke “like” Jackson had the iconic Jackson attitude etc.

        To further drive it home when they were discussing a fictional Ultimates movie Fury was asked who would play him and he said nobdy else but Samuel L Jackson could play him, it wasn’t “..even up for debate.”

        Marvel almost lost Jackson when they messed up the contract negotiations though!

  • Doug

    EW, please do some research. Black Panther is not African American, he is African.

  • Kobolos

    Double fail. You forgot Blade.

    • Colin

      Fail yourself, Kobolos. They were talking about the first black superhero, not the first black superhero to have a movie. Read the article.

      • Kobolos

        The Fail may have been that Luke Cage was a year before Blade come to think of it, but then again I can’t read whole articles while your mom is distracting me.

      • Tim

        Kobolos is an idiot. The Black Panther was first Black superhero by several years & his success in the Fantastic Four issues was the reason that others followed. Luke Cage came out in the 1970s, The Black Panther predates the Black Panther movement. You are a failure, douchebag.

  • jd

    black panther is an avenger. they can have in make a cameo in the upcoming avengers film then branch with a solo movie.

    • MrUniteUs

      Good idea.

    • Manny

      That is not a bad idea,jd. That way people who are not aware of this awesome superheroe (In my opinion) will become familiar with him in the cameo and that would entice people to see the “black Panther” in his own movie.

    • james

      Fortunately, I have a rare comic from the old school days where BP defeated Captain America in battle, Classsic, and I will hold on to that comic book for life.

  • John

    I just need to be sold on the writer. Why not get a comic writer and someone to punch up the script?

    • Mole

      Not a terrible instinct, but ultimately comics and screenplays are two completely different mediums. It’s the same reason the playwright isn’t necessarily the best one to turn his/her own play into a movie.

      Having said that, the best adaptors are the ones with great film instincts and the ability to tap into what made the original special in its own medium, faithfully adhering to the source while bringing it to life with the unique new medium.

  • Stephanie T.

    Idiris Elba without a doubt.

  • harry

    finally. The better not mess this up.

    • harry

      Sorry “They”

  • MWeyer

    Look, PC is all well and good but you mention IN THE ARTICLE how’s from Africa so calling him “African-American” isn’t needed, you can call him “black.”

    • Jamaaliver

      Ummm…they have white people who live in Africa. (It’s an entire continent, not a country.)
      H3ll, Charlize Theron is South African.
      Not to mention that the folks in Egypt, Morroco look nothing like sub-Saharan Africans.

      Not trying to antagonize. Just saying.

    • Truth

      How about we call him a cab, send him to Detroit, and call it even?

    • camtel

      How about Wakandian, anyone know any actors from Wakanda? cause that is pretty intrinsic to the plot. Especially if they were I dunno a king or prince of some description? Possibly have access to a huge amount of that vibranium stuff, you know the stuff the use in mobile phones. Just my two cents

      • Ro

        Wakanda is fictional and so is vibranium, please tell me u were joking

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