T’Challa may be the most famous Black Panther of all time, but he’s definitely not the only one.
Like any superhero mantle, the Black Panther name gets passed between people on a semi-regular basis for all sorts of reasons. In Wakanda itself, succession is most prevalent – it is traditional for the king to also take the panther habit and become the avatar of Bast. But there were many other reasons as well, from characters’ deaths to mistaken identities to space-age empires coming to conquer Earth.
Now the same thing will happen in the MCU for the first time. The tragic death of star Chadwick Boseman has left an unexpected vacancy in the Black Panther corner of the world, meaning a new character must step in and carry on the legacy. So far in the MCU, the only other mainline superheroes to have gone through anything similar have been Ant-Man and Thor, who saw the mantle “crossover” (sort of) from Hank Pym to Scott Lang and then briefly from Thor himself to Jane. Support financially. However, the transition will obviously be a bit more permanent in the case of Black Panther – so we should definitely be prepared.
While the mystery of who’s wearing the new Black Panther suit in the Wakanda Forever trailers is really hardly a mystery – given that Shuri is the easiest and safest bet in MCU history – there are still plenty of possibilities and options continue during phase 5 and phase 6. Who says there can be multiple Black Panthers running around in the MCU – after all, there’s certainly precedent for that in the comics.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at all of the characters who have adopted the Black Panther name in mainline Marvel comics, from space emperors to ancient shamans who roamed the earth over a million years ago.