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Black History Facts 2018: The Real History Behind the Black Panther

Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther. (Credit: Marvel/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Everett)

Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther. (Credit: Marvel/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Everett)

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Black Panther,” one of the most highly anticipated movies of 2018, has already broken pre-sale ticket records for its parent company Marvel Cinematic Universe. But the journey from comic book to screen has taken more than 50 years: Black Panther, Marvel Comic’s first black superhero, debuted in Marvel’s “Fantastic 4” comic in 1966, and became a member of the Avengers two years later, but didn’t get his own comic until 1977.

The series centers on T’Challa, king of Wakanda, and the wealthiest fictional character in the Marvel universe. Unlike many other heroes, T’Challa inherits his mantle from his father T’Chaka (the previous king), and gains his powers—including superacute senses and enhanced strength and speed—from a combination of skill, divine favor and a special herb. In a 1990 interview with The Comics Journal, co-creator Jack Kirby described why he created the character: “I came up with the Black Panther because I realized I had no blacks in my strip…I had a lot of black readers. My first friend was…black! And here I was ignoring them because I was associating with everybody else.”

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