Marvel’s first teaser trailer for Black Panther has set the hype-meter high for the film’s February debut, and one of the things we’ve learned from the footage is that the titular hero’s powers aren’t magic-based. Instead, his powers come from utilizing a much more realistic (so to speak) method.
In the comics, Black Panther’s superhuman powers stem from the Heart-Shaped Herb, a plant that only grows in Wakanda. The herb, a plant mutated from a Vibranium meteorite, is part of an intense initiation process for the person who holds the title of Black Panther; the juices of the herb are applied to the warrior’s body. The warrior who survives the process — supposedly only nobility can withstand it — will gain healing powers as well as super speed, strength, agility, and other abilities akin to a super-soldier. Basically, the Black Panther is like Captain America.
In the movies, however, the Black Panther’s powers are much more spiritual in nature. As shown in the trailer, there is a ritual occurring that has to do with the Heart-Shaped Herb and the Black Panther. However, the herb itself isn’t what gives the Black Panther his powers.
“People who read the comics would be familiar with the Heart-Shaped Herb and the ceremonies that surround that,” Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said to Entertainment Weekly. “That’s partially spiritual. We certainly don’t call it magic, but there’s Vibranium that has been interwoven within that soil and that land for thousands of years, so there are other things going on with it.”
“The Heart-Shaped Herb is how Black Panther achieves his powers. He can fight and-to-hand with Cap, who is a super-soldier, so he has super strength and heightened instincts that give him enhanced abilities,” director Ryan Coogler said. “The Heart-Shaped Herb is what Black Panthers over the generations would consume, once they earn the title, which gives them their physical edge.”
The powers of the Heart-Shaped Herb are things only experienced warriors can handle; if you’re not of the caliber of a Black Panther, like the film’s villain Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), then you are welcoming in some adverse effects. In the comics, Killmonger consumed the herb and nearly died trying to learn more about its properties in order to overthrow T’Challa, the current Black Panther.
Black Panther, which also stars Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Daniel Kaluuya, Florence Kasumba, Danai Gurira, Forest Whitaker, Martin Freeman, and Andy Serkis, will come to theaters February 16, 2018. According to Marvel’s synopsis for the film, Black Panther will revolve around T’Challa coming into his own as king of Wakanda as he protects his home and way of life from forces threatening to destroy his nation and the world.