Spider-Man isn't the only new hero introduced to the Marvel cinematic universe in Captain America: Civil War. The Black Panther, AKA King T'Challa of Wakanda, also makes his debut in the movie. And unlike Spidey, who's been a pop culture mainstay for decades, this marks the character's big screen debut, meaning that not that many casual fans know a ton about him. Like, for starters, what are Black Panther's powers? To understand what he can do, you first must understand where he comes from, and the history of the Black Panther mantle.
Wakanda, the fictional African nation that Black Panther calls home, is quite the place. It's one of the most technologically-advanced nations on Earth, and one of the wealthiest thanks to its possession of the world's supply of vibranium; the metal that composes Captain America's shield. Because of its wealth, Wakanda has a history of self-imposed isolation to protect itself, and that's where the Black Panther comes in. T'Challa's distant ancestor formed the Panther Cult in order to protect the nation and its vibranium, and he became the first Black Panther. The mantle is passed down to Wakanda's greatest warrior, who is now T'Challa, a man who has trained to be a fighter since he was born and is one of the best hand-to-hand combatants in the Marvel universe. So now that you know what the Black Panther is, what can he do?
As the Black Panther, T'Challa has access to a special herb that grants him a number of superpowers. His strength, speed, agility, and reflexes are all at near-superhuman levels, basically on par with Captain America. However, his senses are also fine-tuned, which gives him expert sight, smell, and hearing; abilities that aren't possessed by Cap. While these powers make him quite formidable, Black Panther's base in Wakanda also grants him access to both great technology and vibranium, which is where his suit comes in.
Black Panther's suit is made of vibranium, which grants him various other abilities while wearing it. Since vibranium absorbs impact, the suit is bulletproof and largely prevents T'Challa from being injured while wearing it. His suit has retractable razor sharp claws, that are even able to scratch Captain America's shield. He sometimes also wields energy daggers in the comics, and although he doesn't use them in Civil War, he did in the former Marvel animated series The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
So thanks to his roots in Wakanda and the power of the Panther Cult, Black Panther makes for one powerful Avenger. And while fans get a taste of his powers in Captain America: Civil War next month, I'm really looking forward to seeing them on full display in his own movie in 2018.
Images: Walt Disney Pictures; giphy.com