Captain America: Civil War introduced T'Challa, a.k.a. the Black Panther, to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and nearly two years later, we're only a couple of weeks from the protagonist and his mythology being spotlighted in the Black Panther movie. Because the majority of Black Panther's action appropriately takes place in Wakanda, most of the major characters will be natives from the country, but one of the few outsiders who will play an important role in the story is Martin Freeman's Everett Ross, who also debuted in Civil War. Everett Ross was created by Christopher Priest during the writer's Black Panther comic book run nearly two decades, and it turns out that Ross was inspired by Chandler Bing from Friends. Could that be any more surprising?
Marvel recruited Christopher Priest in the late 1990s to write a new Black Panther comic book series to help boost the company's Marvel Knights imprint, which told edgier stories about this universe's longtime heroes. Priest accepted the job on the condition that Black Panther would not be a "black book," as the writer worried he was being pigeonholed as a "black writer." So to make this project interesting for himself, Priest decided to include a white protagonist in his Black Panther book, and he was inspired to create Everett Ross after watching the Friends episode "The One With The Blackout," where Chandler is stuck inside a ATM vestibule with Victoria's Secret model Jill Goodacre during a major New York City power outage. As Priest recalled to Vulture:
That's a fitting classification for Chandler Bing not just in Friends Season 1, but pretty much throughout the show's entire run. So with that kind of characterization in mind, Christopher Priest created Everett Ross for his Black Panther book (although the character's first appearance was in Ka-Zar #17). Ross started out as an "overwhelmed U.S. State Department employee who was tasked with being a diplomatic escort for T'Challa while the king was visiting Brooklyn. As the years passed and Ross and T'Challa continued working together, Ross eventually became an expert on Wakanda, and even after Priest's Black Panther run ended, Ross has remained an important character in the Black Panther mythology. Still, one can only imagine how Priest's white protagonist might have turned out if he'd stumbled across a Seinfeld or Frasier rerun.
In Captain America: Civil War, Everett Ross was the Deputy Task Force Commander of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, reporting directly to Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross and aiding Iron Man in trying to capture Bucky Barnes, who had been framed for the murder of King T'Chaka. After the actual killer, Helmut Zemo, was apprehended by T'Challa, Ross oversaw his transfer into custody. Now back to being a "regular" CIA agent at the start of Black Panther, Ross will reunite with T'Challa while on the hunt for Ulysses Klaue, an arms dealer who T'Challa is also after due to the threat he poses to Wakanda.
Black Panther slashes its way into theaters on February 16.
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