Marvel Just Gave Black Panther a Long-Overdue Upgrade

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Avengers #8, by Jason Aaron and David Marquez, in stores now.

The role of Avengers “Chairperson”  has always carried a certain significance with the team. The chairperson serves as more than just the leader of the current roster, but as the beating heart of the group that’s come together to be Earth's Mightiest Heroes. The team they lead is often defined by the chairperson. It’s a title with a lot of history in the Marvel Universe, and one that hasn’t been used in ages.

With the constant inner conflict that’s plagued the team since the events of 2004’s Avengers Disassembled, there really hasn’t been an Avengers team united enough to even warrant a chairperson. It’s something that couldn’t come back until the core team dynamic  (i.e. actually working together) was truly restored to the team.

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That’s why it matters so much that a new chairperson was elected in Avengers #8, and even more so that it was King T’Challa, aka Black Panther. It’s a long-overdue in-universe upgrade for the character that reflects Black Panther’s increased presence in the real world cultural landscape, and an important move for the Avengers to make towards reaffirming their commitment to being a real team.

King T’Challa

Black Panther is one of the most distinguished and accomplished characters in the Marvel Universe. He’s a King, a fighter, a genius, a spiritual leader -- a hero, in every sense of the word. His numerous commitments have always made him an interesting pick for the Avengers, as it’s often been established that, as a foreign diplomat, he’s not going to do exactly what the US Government wants and there’s nothing they can do about that.

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He's saved the world dozens of times, he's been a loyal and true Avenger and even gone toe to toe with almost all the Avengers most iconic villains. But he’s also never been the Avengers' chairperson. At different points and times, numerous heroes have held that position: Captain America, Iron Man, Wasp, Hawkeye -- and even Vision took on the mantle before Black Panther. T'challa never almost blew up the world (just saying).

Avengers Vol. 3 #70 (Johns/Coipel/Lanning)

But with Jason Aaron making Black Panther the new guiding voice and mind behind the Avengers by making him Chairperson, he’s making a statement about Black Panther and his role on the team. There’s too much baggage that comes with Captain America and Iron Man, no matter what they mean to the team as a whole. Thor or Captain Marvel could conceivably take on that mantle, but neither of them are in a position where they could become the heart in the way the Avengers need a chairperson to be.

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That’s what makes Black Panther such a perfect choice for this spot. He brings a real sense of heroism and integrity to the role, in a way no other character could. And it couldn't be a better time to see him step up to that position.

Avengers Vol. 8 #8 (Aaron/Marquez)

Reflecting his newfound prominence in the real world, making Black Panther the face of the Avengers is an obvious decision. On top of getting to tell more A-list stories about arguably one of the best Marvel characters ever created, creators also get the chance to ride off the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s successful translation of the character.

In the same way Marvel Comics has made Captain Marvel an A-list hero in recent years, it needs to do the same with Black Panther. Making him the defacto leader of the Avengers, even when Captain America and Captain Marvel are there, sends a strong message about the kind of respect and admiration Black Panther is owed within the Marvel Universe, inside the comics and out.

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