It’s no secret: Marvel Studios’ Black Panther is taking the world by storm.
The film is getting rave reviews from all manner of critics, it’s proving a hit with fans and it’s smashing box office records. One of Marvel’s boldest, most striking and unique films, Black Panther has lit a fire that will continue to burn when we re-visit Wakanda a in May’s Avengers: Infinity War.
But, we’re here to look beyond that. We can only assume that an announcement for Black Panther 2 is just around the corner, but that would be years away at least, and well beyond Marvel’s current slate of Phase 3 movies. That’s simply too long to wait to return to T’Challa and his allies.
What better way to keep the Black Panther fire burning than by continuing his adventures on the small screen? After all, Marvel did it once before, launching Phil Coulson into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. only four months after 2012’s The Avengers hit theaters. What’s more, Disney is already planning to debut its own exclusive streaming service, a perfect platform for a Marvel Cinematic Universe-based show. A new series starring Wakanda’s finest would be the perfect selling point for many to join the Disney service from the get-go.
As for what form this hypothetical series could take, the answer finds itself in Marvel’s comic books. Perhaps the best way to follow-up on the Black Panther film while the iron is still hot is to spin its characters off in a television series that is inspired by the Black Panther and The Crew comic book.
Black Panther and The Crew, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Yona Harvey, and illustrated by Butch Guice and Mack Chater, ran for six issues in 2016, a spinoff of Coates’ main Black Panther series. As part of Marvel’s All-New, All-Different era, Coates created a new version of the Crew team, which had originally been created by Christopher Priest and Joe Bennett. Priest’s team consisted of War Machine, Kasper Cole, Justice and Junta, but Coates closely associated the modern version of the team to Wakanda by making Black Panther their new leader.
Joining T’Challa on this new team were the X-Man Storm, Luke Cage, Misty Knight and young mutant Manifold, himself a former member of Nick Fury’s Secret Warriors team. The series took the Panther out of Wakanda and into the concrete jungles on New York. More specifically, Harlem. These five heroes were pulled together thanks to the death of a Harlem activist they all shared a connection with, and now they had to band together to unearth a dangerous conspiracy that threatened all of Harlem. This is a book that was much more Defenders than Avengers. The scope of the superheroics were smaller, street-level — perfect for television.
The series was heavy on character and politics, and spoke to the current status of society, of racial tension and cultural divide. It was socially-conscious, and it was empowering, telling a message of strength and unity, of identity and self-worth. Each chapter was told from the perspective of a different lead character, helping paint a full picture and giving different point-of-views on politically-charged subjects. Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther film was very much the same. It showed us differing views in T’Challa’s and Killmonger’s, and it was all about African American pride and identity. A spinoff series based on Black Panther and The Crew could therefore perfectly follow the themes established by the film. And, with the added benefit of more screen-time, it could dive even deeper into them.
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