"The thing people keep forgetting about my client is, well, he's a KING. He's not just another nutjob in tights. He's a full-bird monarch from one of the most technologically advanced nations on the planet. And, somehow, we keep forgetting that."
— Everett K. Ross
Marvel's Black Panther was created in 1966, before even the formation of the Black Panther party, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and debuting in the pages of Fantastic Four. He is one of the earliest and most popular black superheroes in American comics.For generations, Wakanda has been ruled by the Black Panther Kings and its large deposits of the mysterious vibranium ore. All was well until the treacherous Ulysses Klaw discovers vibranium and its infinite potential. Klaw then tries to lead a band of invaders to overtake the country and kills King T'Chaka in front of his son T'challa. The grieving young T'challa, however, wasted no time attacking and maiming Klaw soon afterward, forcing Klaw and his forces to retreat.Young T'challa would later be educated and trained abroad, before finally attaining the full title of Black Panther. Soon afterward he invited the Fantastic Four to Wakanda to see if they were worthy of being allies against the now sound-powered Klaw and to prove himself. After that adventure, he soon began to meet various individuals within the Marvel Universe, eventually becoming a member of The Avengers, along with having his own solo adventures.T'challa made major headlines with his marriage to popular X-Men character Storm, along with his sister Shuri taking over the mantle of Black Panther. Meanwhile, there was a Black Panther cartoon that premiered in Australia on January 16th, 2010, produced by BET and written by former Black Panther writer Reginald Hudlin, and he joined the regular cast of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. In 2012, he joined the roster of heroes in the video game Marvel Avengers Alliance. He also took on the role of protector of the Hell's Kitchen area from Daredevil a.k.a. Matt Murdock, the original Man Without Fear and his comic book numbering and subtitle. Until Daredevil got another ongoing series, Black Panther's series was then subtitled The World's Most Dangerous Man Alive! until it was cancelled. Following the Marvel NOW relaunch of several Marvel comics, Black Panther currently appears in the latest volume of New Avengers.
Black Panther provides examples of the following tropes:
Batman Gambit: Most notable include tricking the Fantastic Four to his country to beat them up and get their help with Klaw, tanking the World Economy to put the screws to Killmonger, joining the Avengers originally to spy on them, and faking the death of one of Kasper Cole's friends and having them appear to him as a ghost in order to test him.
Blood Bath: His enemy Man-Ape gained his Super Strength by eating the flesh and bathing in the blood of a rare white gorilla.
Brought Down to Badass: The entire point of the recent take over of The Man without Fear comic book. Basically strips T'Challa of all his resources as king, Vibranium-based technology, even his super-powered wife and leaves him with his own regular skills and Super Soldier abilities, trying to make like any other hero with no safety net. Unfortunately, this has led to some pretty severe Badass Decay, as he's being written without the intelligence that allowed him to get all that nifty tech in the first place. He's basically being treated as an inferior black version of Daredevil (in-universe; Luke Cage has basically called him as much). Panther fans so far have not taken to the new direction. The sales reflect this.
Bulletproof Vest: Despite often taking Heavy Battle Damage, regular bullets only tickle Panther's basic vibranium-laced costume. Which he, for some reason, only wears when Priest is writing him. Mostly because most writers haven't read Priest's run. Or they just don't care.
Butt Monkey: Everett Ross, a White House stooge assigned to T'Challa during Priest's run.
Crazy-Prepared: Black Panther could give Batman a run for his money. Even Morrison's Batman's an amateur next to (Priest version) Panther. The only guy in DC who's really comparable would be '90s era Vril Dox II. T'Challa himself lampshades this in his Secret Invasion tie-in when going toe to toe with a Super-Skrull, who brings up he has the powers of Earth's most powerful heroes. Panther simply replies, "Then you have already lost, because I prepared for the unknown."
The entire sequence begins with T'challa kicking in a door, knocking out Mephisto with one punch, and then tearing out his heart. And then he tries to interrogate him. Of course, this doesn't perturb Mephisto in the slightest.
In Dwayne McDuffie's F4 run, he does this to the Silver Surfer... with an armbar. Though to be fair, he was using tech that Doom used when Doom faced the Surfer.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Okoye and Nakia once note that Panther has ears like an Arabian Steed... and another, unnamed body part as well.
Genre Savvy: About the only thing Ross has going for him, though Killmonger is no slouch either. Killmonger is very aware he's the one guy Panther can't beat in hand-to-hand combat. White Wolf is pretty savvy as well. Queen Divine Justice is savvy, except when Wakandan customs/traditions come into play. Then she's hilarious.
Guile Hero: Priest's interpretation of the character. For some reason, many people prefer this one to the above. In fairness, though, Hudlin's version does have his fan(s), and even got an animated series.
Joker Immunity: Klaw and Killmonger especially. Malice has a little bit of this, too. Klaw and Killmonger are both kind of interesting cases, though, as they do frequently get killed, and it's almost never retconned... they just have a tendency to come back from the dead. Killmonger's racked up three or four resurrections and Klaw's well on his way to double digits; it helps that he's not really human.
Technically, all the Dora Milaje qualify. It's just hard to notice because they're generally about six feet tall, and the most famous two (Okoye and Nakia) look like Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks, respectively.
Legacy Character: The title of Black Panther is usually passed on only to the ruler of Wakanda. Although it should be noted that Kasper Cole, Eric Killmonger, and Shuri have gone under the title of Black Panther. As has Everett K. Ross. Shuri is acting ruler, though. As were (technically) Killmonger, and Everett K. Ross.
Deconstructed with Hunter, the White Wolf, T'Challa's white foster brother.
Unfortunately played straight in a lot of the older Avenger stories featuring Panther.
My Future Self and Me: One long-running subplot involved such, although in a number of ways the Future Self was a throwback to earlier characterization. Essentially, the future self was the "Jack Kirby" Panther, and the then-current version was Priest's interpretation. Hudlin's interpretation is somewhere in between the two, and Liss' is completely disconnected from both.
Black Panther once went up against a mind-controlled Iron Fist and took multiple Iron Fist attacks. Kind of a subversion, as the attacks did cause a fatal brain aneurysm that would have eventually killed Panther had Priest stayed on the book. Hudlin hasn't addressed it, and it appears to have been retconned at this point.
Same story arc had him swallowed by a dragon soon after that and then claw his way out.
Only Known by Their Nickname: Played straight and subverted with "Kasper" Cole, subverted in that he has yet to keep a superhero identity without someone else taking it after two attempts. Technically he's still going by White Tiger (as far as we know), and unlikely to change as there are tribal implications to the name, and it could tick off the Wakandans if he did change his heroing name. That's part of why he changed from Black Panther in the first place.
Constantly during Priest's run. T'Challa still pulls them off occasionally, though they tend to be less complex/convoluted these days.
During Priest's run, T'Challa was far from the only one doing this. Hunter, Killmonger, Tony Stark, Black Dragon, Achebe, Mephisto, Junta, and even Man-Ape all tried their hand at the gambitting. Some of them were better at it than others. Panther was still better at it than they were.
Protagonist-Centered Morality: T'Challa exiled and disband White Wolf and the Hatut Zeraze for their use of torture and secret assassinations in service of the crown. But throughout the earlier sections of Priest's run, he showed NO reservation of using kinetic persuasion on gang members. Although Panther's tactics were nowhere near as severe as Hunter's. T'Challa also has no problems holding economic markets and entire villages hostage to end conflicts. In his defense, he usually cleans up after himself in these situations.
Years and several creative teams later, the Hatut Zeraze are later shown active working under the royal family.
Reed Richards Is Useless: Wakanda has the cure for cancer, and other resources which could change the Marvel Universe drastically in ways the writers don't want. Unfortunately, in having him choose not to instead of letting it just never come up, The Powers That Be make him look less thanheroic. Worse than that: T'Challa was in the room when the original Captain Marvel died. OF CANCER. To be fair, the Captain Marvel story was written (and took place) over a decade before the story where Hudlin decided that Wakanda had cured cancer.
The biggest being T'challa and Storm's mutual past. It began with a brief short story about the two meeting in their youth in the pages of Marvel Team Up, 20 years later used in a story arc during Christopher Priest's run and in the next volume was expanded upon to use as the basis for the two to get married.
Most of Priest's run is either ignored or retconned by Hudlin's run, most notably Panther's fatal brain aneurysm and friendship with Everett K. Ross (Ross appears, but doesn't share a single scene with Panther or make any references to their shared adventures. Despite being Panther's best friend, he's basically the only guy in Marvel who ISN'T at the wedding).
Covered above, but the sudden existence of Panther's sister Shuri probably qualifies.
In the original telling of T'Chaka's fight with Captain America, the fight ends as a draw (though Cap had the advantage). In the Hudlin telling, T'Chaka knocks Cap out cold.
The main retconning of Black Panther and Storm's back story came from Eric Jerome Dickey's telling of the Black Panther/Storm meetup, not Priest or Hudlin. In Priest's run, they met after Claremont's team-up, and Storm tells the Black Panther that there could come a day where he would speak her name and she would never leave his side. Hudlin simply followed up on that.
Wakanda itself has been Retcon a number of times, namely how it became so high tech. Priest had it only after Klaw's attack that killed T'challa's father, sending out its best and brightest to study overseas (simpler to how Japan modernized) others it was alway super high tech.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: And how! This king actually has political power, but he can be head of state and act as Reed Richard or Daredevil substitute at the same time.
Ross was assigned to keep an eye on Panther for four days. Four. Days.
"My loyalty is to Wakanda." "And its king?" "Him too."
"No, I am the king of a small African nation."
"But of course, as usual, I'm getting ahead of myself."
Scandalgate: The Wakandan consulate sponsored a children's charity which was later revealed to be involved in embezzling and drug-running; one of the charity's wards ended up mysteriously dead. The resulting scandal was dubbed "Wakandagate".
Schiff One-Liner: T'Challa's last line to Wilson Fisk at the end of Kingpin of Wakanda arc: "You can have your girlfriend back when we're done questioning her."
Sinister Minister: Achebe. Man-Ape could probably qualify on a technicality, but Achebe's textbook.
Soap Opera Disease: T'challa's brain aneurysm was this for a while, causing him to have hallucinations and a deteriorating mental state, until he got better. Amusingly, even delusional Panther is a badass. He beat up a (probably) imaginary Magneto, using his usual "super smart and over-prepared" tactics, and it was awesome.
Spin-Off: Priest's next project, The Crew, could be considered this, as two of the four main characters (Kasper Cole and Junta) were created during his Black Panther run, as was the primary villain, Triage.
Super Soldier: The heart-shaped herb used within the Ascension ritual for all Black Panthers grants these abilities along with heightened senses. Unless it kills them (which it usually does, unless they happen to be related to T'Challa. Or genetically-modified super-zombies).
Superman Stays Out of Gotham: Occasionally averted. The Avengers have had a few adventures in Wakanda over the years, as have the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.
T'Challa does not approve of killing. Usually. But he's pretty willing to make decisions that get people killed (Q'noma valley), which makes sense, as he's the leader of a country, and all. And he occasionally threatened to kill people during the Priest run (although mostly only after he started going insane). But he prefers not to.
His teenage self considers it when he confronts the man who killed his father, but ultimately can't do it.
Ross makes fun of more of the goofy superhero names that appear than not. Special mention for Man-Ape.
Black Panther himself. Marvel briefly changed the hero's name to The Panther and Black Leopard to keep him from being identified with the controversial Black Panther Party even though Black Panther the superhero actually predated the BPP.
Unlimited Wardrobe: So many subtle and drastic variations of his costume that the only set standard is usually the color and the cat ears.
With Susan Richards. They've gone as far as skinny dipping together, but cut things short before it became a Two-Person Pool Party. "Anything said or done cannot be unsaid or undone," T'Challa insisted. Reed is obviously clueless, but was left wondering what Sue meant when she said Ororo was a lucky girl.
Even after her Face-Heel Turn, Panther has loads of this with Nakia/Malice. Arguably, he also some with Nightshade and Queen Zanda.
There's a tiny bit of this between Panther and Monica Rambeau during the New Orleans arc by Hudlin. His relationship with Storm started out this way, then Priest had them kiss (once), then Hudlin decided they should get married.
White Wolf and the Hatut Zeraze use extreme methods to protect Wakanda, despite being exiled at the start of T'Challa's reign they continue in this role without T'Challa's approval. Considering T'Chaka, Hunter and T'Challa's father, approved of Hunter's methods, its easy to see T'Chaka in this light as well.
You can make a case for this with a lot of the Priest-era villains. Killmonger's a pretty well-meaning guy when it comes to absolutely everything except T'Challa. Magneto and Doom are both presented this way when they show up (and more than a few parallels are drawn between Panther and Magneto). And even Man-Ape only wants what's best for his people.
The Western: A late Christopher Priest story involved Panther and most of the supporting cast (including crazy future Panther) being sent back to the old west to team up with Marvel's Western Characters, and all the Asgardians (disguised as cowboys) against Loki.
Another one that was very prevalent in Priest's run: Panther and Hunter definitely feel this way about each other, as do Panther and Killmonger. For a while, this was how T'Challa and Tony Stark saw each other was well. T'Chaka and Captain America started out this way, but quickly became friends. There was even a little bit of this starting to show between Killmonger and Kasper, but the book got cancelled before it could really blossom.
Triage feels this way about Kasper, but the feeling is very much not mutual.
The animated series provides examples of the following tropes:
Body Snatcher: Cannibal, who starts out in a male body but spends most of the series in a female body before taking over the body of the Wakandan ambassador to the UN. His/her (The Cannibal's original gender is unclear) victims apparently die upon being transferred to the new body.
Dumb Muscle: Juggernaut, filling almost the exact same role Rhino had in the comics.
Eagleland: Type 2. Though Wakanda never took aggressive action against any other country, the US government fears them due to their power and their lack of diplomatic ties to the US. The government assembles a team of supervillains who go and assassinate T'Challa's uncle and predecessor as the Black Panther. The US invades Wakanda under the guise of helping them against their enemy, Niganda.
Of the People: Wakandans are somewhat xenophobic and racist. They tend to view foreigners as barbarians and avoid doing business with them. When one government official suggests giving Westerners the Cure For Cancer, T'Challa overrules him, fearing that they would somehow turn the cure into a weapon.