Marvel fans have reason to be pumped: the new Captain America: Civil War trailer was released on Thursday. This sneak peak gives comic book fans a chance to marvel (no pun intended) at their favorite characters on the big screen, and gives everyone else the chance to stare at Chris Evans' biceps. But you might notice that there's a new face in the film, and it's one you've likely seen before. Chadwick Boseman, who was previously in 42 and Get On Up, makes his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War as Black Panther. It's a well-known fact that the new movie revolves around a major conflict between Captain American and Iron Man, but Black Panther's role in the showdown isn't totally clear in the trailer. So exactly whose side is the Black Panther on?
It's a little more complicated than you'd think. Technically, the new character is really on no one's side. In an interview with SuperHeroHype, Marvel President Kevin Feige explained both Black Panther's stance in the film and why the character makes an appearance in the first place. Said Feige about Civil War, "We needed a third party, we needed a character who wasn’t on either Captain America or Iron Man’s side, which is why we went, “You know what? We’re doing a Black Panther movie, but it would actually be smart to have him fill this role we need in Civil War and introduce him here first.”
So, Black Panther's appearance in this film serves to set up the character for his own movie in the future. But there remains the question of why Black Panther would even be involved in the events of Civil War if he's not on either side. To answer this requires looking at a little context around the character in the Marvel universe.
Black Panther's real name is T’Challa, and he's the prince of an African country called Wakanda. Being the Black Panther isn't a hidden-identity side endeavor for T'Challa; on the contrary, it's a responsibility that comes with his royal position. The monarch of Wakanda is expected to step up as the Black Panther as needed to defend his people, and the chaos rising in the world at the time of Civil War is clearly a threat to the well-being of the country. As Boseman himself explained to /Film,"In the mythology of the country, he’s not a superhero. He’s a warrior, and it’s part of their tradition. It’s not like he’s like, “Who is that masked guy that’s doing this stuff?” Everybody knows it’s him, and they expect that it’s him, and they pray to God, or even him in some cases, that he would do the things that he’s doing."
So although the specifics of how Black Panther decides to insert himself into the conflict in Civil War are unclear, it's obvious that his motivation is to protect his people. It's notable, though, that in the new trailer there's a certain shot in which Black Panther appears to have chosen a side. Captain America and Iron Man are running towards each other, with a flock of heroes behind each of them— and Black Panther is on Iron Man's side. Does this mean anything about an alliance in the film? Or is Black Panther just siding with Iron Man in this particular battle scene? Or, is this trailer just a showcase of clever editing designed to make it unclear exactly who is fighting who? It may be too soon to tell, but one's thing for sure: when Black Panther makes his onscreen Marvel debut, it's gonna be explosive.
Images: Walt Disney Studios (2)