2018’s Black Panther is finally gaining its much-anticipated sequel later this year and fans are revisiting the original masterpiece. That first film is a perfect encapsulation of the talents of the late Chadwick Boseman and the way in which the Marvel Cinematic Universe can change elements from the comics to bring these superhero stories to a new audience.
There are elements of Wakanda and its residents that are perhaps enhanced on the screen in comparison to the page and there are those moments that perhaps played out better in the source material. But these Reddit users are here to point out the examples of Black Panther’s portrayal where it’s deemed better thanks to Marvel Studios.
When looking at Black Panther and the wider MCU in general, one villain stands out to audiences. Killmonger. From the performance of Michael B. Jordan to the ideological perspective driving the character, Killmonger is arguably one of the most well-developed superhero movie villains of all time.
The Killmonger of the comics doesn’t really hold a candle to what was eventually put to screen. There are plenty of Reddit threads indicating this, from Dbotworld’s declaration that he’s the best part of the film, to one user’s analysis that he “was the most sympathetic, compelling, and believable character in the whole movie.”
It Made The MCU Even Better
Black Panther’s very existence within the MCU in general actually makes it better than the comics for some fans, because of its interaction and elevation of the films around it. While Black Panther’s importance in the Marvel Universe is massive, his narratives haven’t influenced other comic titles perhaps as much as they should. Wakanda’s ascension to space might be one of the few big examples where it did.
In comparison, on the big screen Black Panther, according to Reddit fans, helped make films like Age Of Ultron more enjoyable. Rkkim started a thread looking at how the film can be appreciated more because “Ultron using the stolen vibranium to almost destroy the Earth drives home the point of why Wakanda was so reluctant to open up to the world. And since Klaue’s stash was just a small fraction, it makes Killmonger’s plan to distribute vibranium weapons that much more dangerous.”
The Global Impact
There’s an argument to be made that the MCU movies and especially Black Panther, allowed the Wakadan King to have a bigger cultural impact than the comics were able to. Of course, this is controversial, considering the massive influence those graphic novel stories have on the comic book industry and the way in which they created the film itself.
However, the movie actually allowed the character to reach more people on an even larger platform. That’s incredibly important. For self-confessed comic book fan PimpNinjaMan, he states that “In my opinion, Black Panther is the first of its kind in modern history to display the amount of cultural significance a movie like this can have.” It’s perhaps on a level that even the best Black Panther comic arcs couldn’t reach despite being worthy of it.
M’Baku isn’t quite as well developed in the comics as he is on screen. His stories in the source material are not as prominent as the leader seen across the MCU and as a villain, Man-Ape is largely treated as a physical threat and nothing more. The film surpasses the comic in truly establishing M’Baku as a respected equal of T’Challa.
There is a reason why genuine discussions are taking place about the leader becoming the new Black Panther of Wakanda. HeavenPiercingMan perhaps summed up the transformation the best by saying “They did him exactly the way I wanted them to do him. Turn the whole ape schtick into something fearsome, proud and respectable, the same way T’Challa patterns himself after a panther. I’m so happy.”
There are simply some areas of media and culture that comic books can’t quite reflect. Limitations of the medium itself or efficient scripts remove some opportunities to bring in personal culture. Of course, comics do more than most platforms in regards to reflecting diversity, from the range of characters to their dialects or even their fashion.
But the portrayal of Black Panther across the MCU could take advantage of cinema as a whole. GranddaddySandwich makes the point elegantly, “As a Black Male, I think the film did an excellent job of representing our culture. From the Hip Hop culture presented in Oakland, to the African imagery in Wakanda. It’s a very relatable film for me. I think it’s also a very accessible film for those who aren’t privy to Black Culture.” It can ultimately use techniques that artists and writers aren’t afforded on the page like its unbelievable score.
Passing The Mantle
The comics have firmly entrenched Black Panther as a singular superhero. In theory, much like most other roles, from Captain America to Spider-Man, the superhero title is a mantle that could and should be passed on eventually. For the longest time, T’Challa has continued to hold on to the same role.
Reddit fans have noted that while no one wants to see the mantle passed on from the late Chadwick Boseman, the MCU has already set up a situation where it’s possible. There are plenty of contenders that have been built who could embody the Black Panther. Ijackspider has said “there are ways that Marvel can honor Chadwick’s interpretation of the character without simply recasting, and one I could see it working is just using the character’s tradition of the Black Panther title being passed from generation to generation.” They note that it rarely happens in the comics but perhaps should.
Stronger Story Focus
Black Panther’s comics should be well respected and treated as the masterpieces that they are. There are countless compelling narratives throughout their runs and the movies have done well to take some of those themes. Some Reddit fans beg to differ though, arguing for a lack of storyline focus.
While one Redditor has suggested that there are no good Black Panther comics out there, a more nuanced analysis albeit one many would disagree with is that, as one user puts it, the comics are about nothing. They say, “I guess there are some story arcs like BP losing control of Wakanda for an issue or two which causes the world economy to collapse, or where they stop a watcher thing while saving a toad relic. I never really got there being any semblance of plot though.” While this might not be true, many feel the ideological themes of the MCU are far more focused.
There are those who take something away from the MCU’s portrayal of Black Panther and suggest the character has been weakened or made more passive in some way. However, the narrative of the character is about sharing responsibility, an aspect which many have praised in comparison to the earlier comics.
It’s a dual sword, as one user puts it, “There are times when he steps up, but ultimately…Nakia, Okoye, and Shuri end up looking more proactive than he does. Which I think was the point of the movie. He needed to step up and take responsibility for how Wakanda could benefit the world.” The themes here are handled so well, but the supporting cast genuinely benefits with Nakia especially getting more development than she did on the page.
The Ancestral Plane’s Portrayal
The Ancestral Plane is present in the comics in a slightly different form. It’s widely referred to as the Djalia although appears to have a similar purpose and aesthetic. The movies did a far better job of truly defining what this spiritual location actually is though.
It grounds it in a certain amount of reality and entrenches it within Black Panther’s narrative. RobertGrayson ultimately makes the point perfectly though. He says, “Ta-Nehisi Coates has definitely gone there in his run on BP, the most recent. I’d be hard pressed to tell you exactly which arc or issues, though.” Despite it being a major feature, the way it is used in the comics is perhaps a little more forgettable, maybe because of how integral and gorgeous it is on the big screen.
The MCU can do something that the comics simply cannot. It can look across the wealth of comics in existence and combine various stories. Whereas there are so many narratives on the page that they have to be drawn out, the movies have the benefit of only looking at the best material.
User Bserum says “given that MCU tends to use comic plots as a jumping off point, rather than recreating a comicbook with live actors, there is a wealth of intriguing concepts from the decades of Panther stories in which the protagonist could be one of the other characters.” There are infinitely more directions the movies could go in, when compared to the comics, because of all this inspiration. Alternatively though, the source material does have more creative freedom.
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