During the Silver Age of comic books, writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby introduced Black Panther to Marvel comics. The character, also recognized as T'Challa, came into existence in 1966 as the protector of the fictional nation of Wakanda.
The superhero was introduced way before the other black comic book characters that came into existence. He was the one who opened the path for the other black heroes, including Blade, Luke Cage, and Falcon, to make their name in the comic book universe.
With Black Panther: Wakanda Forever set to be released this year, online conversation is rife about the black superhero, including the impact he has had on the comic book universe.
Black Panther popularized Black characters in Marvel
Black Panther's existence in the comic books brings in a lot of positivity for black people. A black hero being appreciated and accepted wasn't seen too often a few decades back.
T'Challa's introduction to comic books was a bold move in the 1960s, and it paved the path for other black superheroes and villains. He wasn't introduced as a side or supporting character. Instead, he was a superhero who, besides being black, flexed his African heritage.
The character is, in many ways, a ray of hope for African kids who grew up reading about powerful superheroes. T'Challa's representation in Marvel made them feel more proud of their culture and roots.
Unlike the other Marvel characters, the superhero didn't become popular due to his charming looks or extraordinary abilities. Still, he came into the limelight by encouraging people of his race and enhancing color equality.
When the character made his live-action debut in the 2018s Black Panther, the film broke all the records and became the first super hit movie to feature a black superhero. The movie embraced African culture by including the isiXhosa language in the movie, which is one of the official languages in South Africa.
We've also seen several other African cultural references in the movie. For instance, the gold neck rings worn by the personal bodyguards of the black superhero are inspired by the Ndebele tribe from South Africa.
Also, the costume of the Jabari tribe in the movie is inspired by the Basotho people in Africa. The village landscape where the Jabari tribe resides is inspired by Lesotho, a country in Southern Africa.
Besides these, most of the cast members of the film were Black, which is something we didn't see in any other superhero movie. Of course, Falcon is another character that has become a prominent name, especially after getting his TV show.
But for several fans, Falcon has always been considered a supporting character in Steve Rogers' journey. While T'Challa is a leading character in Marvel and the MCU, it's no wonder that T'Challa holds a special place in the heart of the African community.