You may not have heard this already, but some movie called Black Panther is set to come out later this week. It's about a man who dresses like a cat and protects his country as a king and superhero, and it's one of the most anticipated movies of the year. Black Panther is the fastest selling superhero movie on Fandango, and it's projected to be one of Marvel Studios' strongest openings ever. Yes, people are very excited to see this already critically acclaimed movie, which only really stars one recognizable character (Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa) amongst a host of new faces.
It's not often these days that a Marvel movie comes around and people don't already the majority of the cast, but that's part of the fun of a brand new Marvel movie! Because the chances are pretty high that most people won't know who Nakia or Killmonger is, I've compiled a list of the major characters that will be appearing in the movie, complete with a little introduction of who they are and what they're all about.
Relation to Black Panther: He is Black Panther
Powers: Heightened Strength and Agility; Fighting Prowess; Vibranium Costume and Weapons
He should need no introduction. T'Challa is the main character of the movie, and made his debut in Captain America: Civil War. He returns to his nation of Wakanda as king and must balance his new responsibilities with his duties as Black Panther. Not everyone is happy T'Challa has assumed the throne, and he'll have to deal with enemies both outside and within Wakanda to protect it. Those who love the character won't have to wait much longer to see him again. Black Panther has a role to play in Avengers: Infinity War, with Wakanda is a major set piece.
Relation to Black Panther: Hates Him and Wants the Wakanda Throne
Powers: Extremely Skilled and Capable Fighter; Might Have Augmented Strength and Agility Like Black Panther
Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) is the main antagonist of the movie and he seeks to usurp the throne in order take control of Wakanda for what he sees as the "greater good," which likely doesn't mean anything good for the rest of the world. Early reactions to the film praise Killmonger as one of the best villains Marvel has ever done. His exact goals in the movie are still unknown but he does get his own vibranium Black Panther suit so he can go toe-to-toe with T'Challa. In the comics, he was an exiled Wakandan who returns to exact his revenge on Black Panther.
Relation to Black Panther: Confidant and Former Flame
Powers: Skilled in Espionage and Fighting
Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) is a War Dog in the movie. It's her job to spy on the rest of the world and report events back to Wakanda. Occasionally this means getting her hands dirty and kicking some ass. She's an extremely capable fighter and she tries to buck from the traditions of Wakanda. Nakia is a confidant to T'Challa and the two of them have some kind of romantic past. She typically fights with two metal rings, but expect an upgrade somewhere down the line.
Relation to Black Panther: Leader of the Dora Milaje
Powers: Highly Trained Warrior; Master of Several Different Weapons; Tactical Mind
Danai Gurira brings her considerable action skills from The Walking Dead over to Black Panther. She plays Okoye, leader of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda's deadliest warriors and sworn protectors of the throne. Okoye is rooted in the traditions of Wakanda, which puts her at odds with the more free-wheeling Nakia. Okoye is loyal to T'Challa, and we can expect her to be all kinds of bad ass. She will live to fight another foe -- or more specifically, aliens -- in Avengers: Infinity War.
Relation to Black Panther: Younger Sister
Powers: Smartest Person in the World
T'Challa may be the one who gets to wear the suit, but all of his toys (and many of the technological developments in Wakanda) come from his 16-year-old sister, Shuri. Played by Letitia Wright, Shuri is the smartest person in the world -- even smarter than Tony Stark. She builds all of Black Panther's weapons and suits and even rocks a pair of her own sweet looking panther gauntlets. In the comics, Shuri eventually becomes the queen of Wakanda and takes on the mantle of Black Panther for a time, gaining all of the powers of her older brother.
*Relation to Black Panther: *Government Representative
Powers: Being a Really Good CIA Agent
Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) was first introduced in Captain America: Civil War, where he tried to stick it to all the superheroes who didn't sign the Sokovia Accords. This time, he journeys to Wakanda as an ambassador of sorts and provides an outsiders perspective to the rich and developed wonders of the secretive Wakanda society. In the comics, Ross is comic relief, but the movie will depict him as a more capable agent who can hold his own -- both physically and diplomatically.
Relation to Black Panther: Enemy
Powers: Mechanical Arm That Turns into a Laser Weapon; Afraid of Cuttlefish
After first making his debut several years ago in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ulysses Klaue finally returns to the MCU. Klaue is one of the rare people to ever penetrate the borders of Wakanda and live to tell about it. He's a weapons dealer who made off with a modest amount of vibranium, all of which was taken from him by Ultron (though, he did get paid). It seems Klaue is eager to get back into Wakanda, and he's made an alliance with Erik Killmonger. He's got a new robot arm that morphs into a weapon. In the comics, Klaue is Black Panther's arch-nemesis and gets turned into living sound.
Relation to Black Panther: Enemy
Powers: Leader and Skilled Fighter
M'Baku is the leader of a tribe in Wakanda that is none too happy that T'Challa is now on the throne. M'Baku's tribe is against all the technology in Wakanda and believes that the only way forward is to look toward the past. With Killmonger and Klau running around, M'Baku is a dangerous third player that could tip the scales. In the comics, he's better known as Man-Ape, but the producers correctly decided to avoid the racial pitfalls of a black man dressed as an evil gorilla.
Relation to Black Panther: Advisor
Adding some extra pedigree to the cast is Forest Whitaker, who plays Zuri, the chief advisor to the king. He was a longtime advisor to T'Chaka, and now Zuri guides T'Challa in his new duties as king. Zuri is the keeper of the Heart Shaped Herb, the plant that gives Black Panther his powers. Zuri is a connection to the more spiritual and religious side of Wakanda and serves as a link to T'Challa's past.
Relation to Black Panther: Advisor and Best Friend
Powers: Skilled Warrior
W'Kabi is played by Daniel Kaluuya, who broke out in one of last year's most successful movies, Get Out. W'Kabi is T'Challa's best friend and a member of the Border Tribe, one of the most important groups in Wakanda. They protect the Wakanda borders from invaders and keep up the charade that Wakanda is just a poor African nation. They are some of the deadliest fighters in Wakanda's army. When T'Challa becomes king, he asks W'Kabi to join him in the palace as an advisor.
Relation to Black Panther: Mother
Powers: Being Angela Bassett
Angela Bassett joins the MCU has Ramonda, the former queen of Wakanda and now the mother of the king. T'Challa looks to her for insight on what his father would do in his situation. While Ramonda serves in an advisory position, we know that trailers that she gets involved in some of the action herself. We also know that she can totally rock some white-colored dreads.
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Matt has lived in New Jersey his entire life, but commutes every day to New York City. He graduated from Rowan University and loves Marvel, Nintendo, and going on long hikes and then greatly wishing he was back indoors. Matt has been covering the entertainment industry for over two years and will fight to his dying breath that Hulk and Black Widow make a good couple.