The much-anticipated Black Panther hit UK cinema screens last week, with fans of the Marvel Studios movies waiting eagerly for the latest instalment in the ongoing franchise, and hoping for success from the first black led superhero film in the series.
Whilst Black Panther himself was introduced in Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther will be introducing a load more characters to the franchise.
But just who exactly are they? Here’s our handy guide to help you out…
T’Challa/Black Panther (Chaswick Boseman)
T’Challa is the ruler of the nation of Wakanda, and their protector Black Panther. Originally appearing in a guest role in issue #52 of Fantastic Four in 1966, he would go on to join the Avengers just two years later. During his time in the Avengers he would go on to make guest appearances in other books such as Daredevil.
Granted enhanced powers and abilities by a special herb grown only in Wakanda, T’Challa possesses enhanced senses, peak human strength, agility, endurance, and stamina. Combined with his genius level intellect and master martial arts skill, he’s a formidable opponent. Especially when he was the ‘King of the Dead’ and commanded an army of zombies (yes, that actually happened because comics are really weird).
Over the years T’Challa would go on to form a relationship with Ororo Monroe/Storm from X-Men, eventually marrying her, served as a member of the Fantastic Four, and even battled the armies of Thanos to protect his nation.
Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan)
Killmonger is one of Black Panthers deadliest enemies. Killmonger’s family was exiled from the nation of Wakanda after working for the villain Ulysses Klaw in an attempt to overthrow the Wakandan king. Growing up in New York City, he dedicated his life to getting revenge on Wakanda.
Returning to Wakanda, Killmonger ravaged several villages to draw out Black Panther. Despite appearing to have been killed in the ensuing battle, Killmonger would return to challenge T’Challa several times over the years.
Using a synthetic chemical that copies the herb used to give T’Challa his abilities, Killmonger is on par with the Black Panther physically, though has yet to defeat his enemy.
Shuri (Letitia Wright)
The younger half-sister of T’Challa, and Princess of Wakanda, Shuri is a fierce fighter in her own right, and has even worn the mantle of Black Panther for a time.
From a young age Shuri wanted to become the first woman to be the Black Panther, and after proving herself in battle by defeating Radioactive Man during one of Ulysses Klaw’s invasions of Wakanda, was trained by T’Challa to take on the role if he was ever unable to do so.
Shuri is also a skilled diplomat, and took part in treaty negotiations with other nations, including Atlantis. When Shuri was killed by The Cabal, a group of villains led by Thanos, she travelled to an afterlife where she received training and new abilities. Returned to life by T’Challa, Shuri now possesses the ability to transform into a flock of birds, on one large bird, as well as being able to turn her body into living stone.
M’Baku (Winston Duke)
One of the greatest warriors in Wakanda, M’Baku was second in skill only to T’Challa. Whilst T’Challa was away from Wakanda serving with the Avengers M’Baku launched a plan to usurp the throne.
The ancient White Gorilla cult was outlawed in Wakanda centuries ago, so M’Baku revived the Gorilla Cult and took on the mantle of Man-Ape. When T’Challa returned to Wakanda he fought and killed M’Baku, though the villain would be revived by his followers.
M’Baku would fight against T’Challa many more times over the years, and would go on to join multiple villain groups such as The Masters of Evil, and the Villains for Hire. Despite cheating death several times, M’Baku would be killed permanently, with the mantle of Man-Ape passing on to his brother.
Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis)
Ulysses Klaw (the spelling of the character’s name was changed for the films), was the son of a Nazi war criminal who grew up to become an assassin. After being hired to kill T’Chaka, the father of T’Challa and former King of Wakanda. Although he did manage to kill T’Chaka, he was wounded in the process, losing his hand. Klaw would go on to replace his limb with a sonic blaster.
During a later attempt to kill T’Challa, he was stopped by Black Panther and the Fantastic Four. Klaw ended up leaping into a massive sonic converter device, resulting in his body being transformed into living sound.
Klaw would face T’Challa many times over the years, joining organisations such as The Masters of Evil in his quest to destroy the rulers of Wakanda.
In the Marvel films Klaue was a black market arms dealer who stole large amounts of the metal Vibranium from Wakanda. During the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Klaue lost his arm after angering Ultron.
Okoye (Danai Gurira)
A member of the Dora Milaje, wives-in-training to the King of Wakanda. The Dora Milaje are selected from the many tribes of Wakanda and act as personal body-guards to the King, with the possibility that one of them will one day be the next Queen.
Despite this tradition, T’Challa made it known that he had no intention of marrying any of the members of the Dora Milaje, but retained them as his personal guard. Okaye was fiercely loyal to T’Challa, and even accompanied him when he went into hiding for a time.
Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o)
Nakia was a member of the Dora Milaje for many years, and openly fantasied about marrying T’Challa one day. Over the years she would become obsessed with her king, even throwing herself off a fifty foot ledge just to get his attention.
Her obsession deepened as time wore one, and she even attempted to kill one of T’Challa’s former girlfriends. This resulted in her dismissal from the Dora Milaje. After fleeing Wakanda Nakia was captured by an enemy of Black Panther and killed. Nakia would be resurrected by Killmonger, taking on the mantle of Malice and setting on a quest of revenge against her former king.
And not forgetting…
Ramonda (Angela Bassett)
Queen Ramonda was the wife of King T’Chaka, the surrogate mother of T’Chall, and the mother of Shuri. Originally from South Africa, she met King T’Chaka after his former wife N’Yami died giving birth to their son T’Challa. She would go on to marry T’Chaka and raised T’Challa as her own son.
Zuri (Forest Whitaker)
Zuri was a fierce warrior and loyal friend to T’Chaka, the former King of Wakanda and Black Panther. Following the death of T’Chaka, Zuri became a special attendant to T’Challa before being killed in battle by the villain Morlun whilst protecting a wounded T’Challa.
Everett Ross (Martin Freeman)
A member of the US State Department who was assigned to the nation of Wakanda. He would assist T’Challa numerous times over the years when the King visited the United States, going on to become a trusted adviser and good friend to the hero.
W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya)
The chief of Wakandan security and a loyal second in command to T’Challa. W’Kabi was killed alongside Zuri protecting his King from the villain Morlun whilst Shuri was being prepared to become the new Black Panther.