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What to expect from MARVEL’s PHASE 4

The last film of the Infinity Saga, Spider-Man: Far From Home, is in cinemas now, but Marvel clearly has no intention of slowing down their blockbuster movie output. Last night, in the prestigious Hall H at San Diego Comic Con, Kevin Feige took to the stage to reveal a slew of new products hitting screens, both big and small, over the next couple of years.

Many of the announcements had already been rumoured, but now that they’re all confirmed, it’s time to dive in and see what we’re dealing with.

Release Date: May 1st 2020

First up is the long-awaited Black Widow solo film. Due to the events of Avengers: Endgame, this film is a prequel. The film will, in part, take us to the oft-mentioned Budapest, where something crazy supposedly went down in both Black Widow and Hawkeye’s past. The film is directed by Cate Shortland (Berlin Syndrome) and joining her are Black Widow actress Scarlet Johansson, David Harbour (Stranger Things), Florence Pugh (Fighting With My Family), O-T Fagbenle (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Rachel Weisz (The Favourite).

According to the trailer (which is, unfortunately, yet to be released to the public) the film will see Black Widow taking on the famed skull-masked mercenary known as the Taskmaster, who, in the comics, can mimic the fighting style of anyone he observes. This power has allowed him to stand up to a variety of heroes from Captain America to Spider-Man, and it’ll be interesting to see how his abilities are depicted on the big screen.

Being a Black Widow movie, it’s also highly likely we’ll see the Red Room where Natasha was trained, and from the sounds of things, we’ll be seeing other graduates, as played by Florence Pugh (who plays Yelena Belova, another Black Widow in the comics) and Rachel Weisz, who has described her character as having been through the Red Room program ‘five times’, which leads me to speculate she may be the real villain of the piece, as I feel like a lot of Black Widow’s rivals are just fellow Red Room graduates who she’s shown up. Plus ‘Melina’ – Weisz’ character’s name, is the name of an obscure supervillain who has that exact origin, so…

Release Date: Fall 2020

The first of the Disney+ series’ is the one I’m personally most excited about, and was even before the developments of Endgame. Starring Anthony Mackie as the Falcon and Sebastian Stan as the Winter Soldier, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will presumably explore the pairs relationship after the retirement of Steve Rogers as Captain America, and the growth of Samuel Wilson as he strives to take up the role himself after being gifted the shield.

Other returning castmembers include Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter and Daniel Brühl as Zemo, both of whom played a big part in the last Captain America movie, Civil War. With so many big Captain America characters crammed in, it’s clear that this is another Captain America story in all but name, and it will interesting to see this new Cap/Bucky pairing grow into bigger stars in the Marvel Universe before they’re called back to the movie side of things.

Even more interesting is the fact that footage not shown outside the con apparently involved Zemo donning a purple mask, teasing his transformation into the full on supervillain we see in the comics. If Marvel are hoping to turn the characters from a rogue soldier to a full-on villain, it gives me hope that the character may show up again further down the line as a member of Marvel’s Suicide Squad-esque team, the Thunderbolts.

Release Date: November 6th 2020

Another long rumoured film, Eternals will be the second and final Marvel film of 2020. Based on what are essentially a group of space-gods, Eternals, according to director Chloé Zhao, will explore what it means to be human through the lens of a group of immortal beings.

Bringing that race to life will be Salma Hayek (Frida), Richard Madden (Game of Thrones), Angelina Jolie (Maleficent), Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick), Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta), Dong-seok Ma (Train to Busan), Lia McHugh (The Lodge) and Lauren Ridloff (The Walking Dead). In the comics, the Eternals are created by the Celestials (briefly seen in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise) and boast an array of godlike powers including super-strength, flight and energy manipulation. A part of their group lived on the moon Titan, and gave way to Thanos himself.

While conventionally depicted as a group of predominantly white male deities (Thanos being an obvious exception), the characters in the film have been diversified to include more women and people-of-colour. For instance, Lauren Ridloff is playing the usually male speedster Makaris, who in this version will be a black, female, hearing-impaired character, while Dong-seok Ma’s Gilgamesh was often confused, in-universe, with the Greek demi-God Hercules.

So in a way, Marvel’s Hercules is finally hitting the big screen, and is being played by an Asian man. I imagine all those who found Idris Elba’s casting as an Asgardian God to be infuriating will probably be having a fit right about now. I love it.

Release Date: February 12th 2021

The idea of a Shang-Chi movie sounded cool to me, but I was curious how a man who’s powers are basically ‘I’m really good at Kung-Fu’ would slot into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I theorised with a co-worker the other week that perhaps, due to the comic book characters links to the outdated racial sterotype villain Fu Manchu, that the movie version could instead adopt the Iron Man villain Mandarin as his new cinematic arch-nemesis, and apparently, that’s exactly what’s going down.

The film will be directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12) and stars Simu Liu (Kim’s Convenience) as Shang-Chi, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung (In the Mood for Love) as the Mandarin, and rapper Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians) in a supporting role.

The Legend of the Ten Rings will presumably follow the hero known as Shang-Chi (dubbed ‘the Master of the Kung-Fu’) and his interactions with the terrorist group known as the Ten Rings, who have previously appeared in Iron Man, Ant-Man as well as Marvel shorts. Unlike the Ben Kingsley/Guy Pearce variant of the villain seen in Iron Man Three, this new Mandarin will probably lean closer to the classic Iron Man villain from the comics, who boasted a set of ten magical rings (they were really alien tech, but whatever – they’re basically magic) and used them to become a warlord. As Shang-Chi’s comics often leaned into the fact that he was the son of the evil Fu Manchu, I imagine we’ll see the movie variant discover that his father is actually the Mandarin, and feel responsible for putting an end to his Dad’s terrorist plots.

Side-note: that title is awesome.

Release Date: Spring 2021

After Shang-Chi, we’re heading back to Disney+, this time to see the ongoing adventures of the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and her supposedly deceased beau, the Vision (Paul Bettany). This one is a bit harder to predict, due to the fact the Vision died in Infinity War, and I can’t imagine this series will see Wanda going on a globe-trotting adventure to Wakanda to rebuild him. However, an angle I could foresee is the series exploring Wanda’s ever-growing powers, which somehow bring the Vision back to life.

While Wanda is plenty powerful in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she pales in comparison to her comic-book counterpart, who can tap into magic energies to manipulate reality itself. Seeing as this series has been described as ‘very weird’ and Wanda will also be starring in the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel that we’ll get into shortly, I imagine that we will be seeing a growth in Wanda’s powers, and be exploring her link to a chaotic magical force.

Release Date: May 7th 2021

Once again, Marvel has made me very excited for 2021 by dumping a super weird and lengthy title on us, this time with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Fans have been clamouring to see more of the multiverse ever since Endgame introduced alternate timelines and Far From Home teased that Mysterio had arrived from another dimension. But really Doctor Strange is the place that makes the most sense to explore the multiverse, due to it being established in his first solo outing.

Returning director Scott Derrickson promises that this movie will be the first ‘scary’ Marvel movie, and the film has been described online as having tinges of ‘Gothic Horror’. Such claims lead me to believe that we’ll be seeing the likes of Nightmare (a rather obviously named demon lord of nightmares) and hopefully, Shuma-Gorath, an extra-dimensional tentacled being who looks like he’s been pulled right out of a H.P. Lovecraft story. If Strange is set to be transversing the multiverse with Wanda at his side, then I find it highly likely that we’ll at least get glimpses of the two monsters who are big parts of his rogues gallery, as well as potentially a load of other nasties.

Personally I’m just excited for a trippy Doctor Strange movie where he gets to do actual magic rather than just glowy martial arts – he is one of my favourite comic book characters after all, and I need to see his true potential realised in a solo outing.

Release Date: Spring 2021

Some characters just wont die, and despite Thanos’ claim that there will be ‘no resurrections this time’, before snapping the trickster God’s neck, that seemingly includes Loki.

Returning Tom Hiddleston to the MCU after his third supposed on-screen death, this time we’ll see Hiddleston as the star of the show, following on from his escape from the Avengers during the time heist portion of Endgame. Presumably, that means this Loki and the series as a whole will be showing his adventures in an alternate timeline, but seeing as Marvel themselves seem kind of confused about how time travel works in their universe (what’s the deal with old man Steve Rogers? I have my headcannon, but both the writers and the directors have said contradictory things), so I wont speculate too much.

This series will be penned by Rick and Morty scribe Michael Waldron, so expect some wild and wacky hi-jinks as Loki messes with some unsuspecting Earthlings.

Release Date: Summer 2021

As we get closer to the end of the list of announcements, we move onto Marvel Studios first big-time animated venture, What If..?

What If..? was a long running comic book series that explored alternative timelines and ‘What if’ scenarios. It was narrated by an enigmatic being known as the Watcher – an alien with a massive head who sees all, and is tasked with overseeing all the major events that befall the Earth, before reporting back to his own race of similarly massive headed beings who are doing the same across the Galaxy. The species was briefly seen in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, where it was revealed that Stan Lee’s cameos throughout the Infinity Saga were him playing their Earth-based informant.

With Stan now sadly departed, the new Watcher of Earth will be played by Jeffrey Wright (WestWorld), as he introduces alternate takes on Marvel movies in animated form. A wealth of actors from across the Infinity Saga will return to voice their characters, and a rumoured story-line involves Peggy Carter getting given the Super-Soldier Serum and becoming Captain America (or would that be Captain Britain?).

Release Date: Fall 2021

With Black Widow being the first movie of Phase Four, that leaves us with only one original Avenger who hasn’t had his chance to have his story told. Luckily, that will be remedied in 2021 as Jeremy Renner stars in the Hawkeye Disney+ series. The series will be based in part on Matt Fraction’s popular comic book run, and see Clint Barton tutoring a new hero called Kate Bishop to be the next Hawkeye. Jeremy Renner expressed enthusiasm for the projects focus on non-powered heroes, and the fact that it means anyone can be a superhero if they want to.

Feige added that Hawkeye will see more of Barton’s Ronin persona, so perhaps this means that we will see more of Clint coming to terms with what he did during ‘the Blip’, and deciding to finally retire for good – but not before making sure there’s still a Hawkeye about to keep the Avengers in line.

Speaking of the Avengers, while many knew this would be the focus of the Hawkeye TV series, its official announcement does add credence to the rumours that Marvel are hoping to do a Young Avengers adaptation. The Young Avengers was the comic book series that introduced Bishop as Hawkeye, before she went on to co-star in Fraction’s Hawkeye run, and featured her and a group of teens taking on aliases of their own to emulate the formation of the classic Avengers.

Release Date: November 5th 2021

There was a lot to be excited about in Feige’s Hall H presentation, with my personal highlights being The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but a film I’ve long been anticipating ever since it was just a mere rumour was Thor 4.

And this week, it was officially announced that Taika Watiti, one of my favourite directors, was returning to Marvel Studios to write and direct the film.

The Thor segment of the Hall H presentation gave us even more juicy details, such as Tessa Thompson suggesting the film may see her character, Valkyrie, trying to find herself a Queen as she becomes the new King of Asgard, as well as the surprising return of Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, who famously dipped out of the Marvel films due to her dislike of the way things happened behind-the-scenes. That appears to have been remedied however, as Portman is back, and seemingly in a much bigger role, as Waititi suggested that this new film, Love and Thunder, will take cues from the Jason Aaron run of the Mighty Thor comics, in which original Thor is deemed unworthy of lifting Mjolnir, so Foster steps up to become the new female Thor.

With Mjolnir destroyed, things obviously wont go down like that, but I could see a rom-com in which Thor tries to win back the love of Jane Foster by giving her her own hammer and a portion of his powers.

When it comes to Waititi, anything is possible, but with yet another colourful title card and jazzy title, we can only assume it’s going to be a hilarious treat for the eyes.

While those were the only dated announcements, that wasn’t all that was revealed, as Kevin Feige ended the presentation by confirming sequels to Black Panther and Captain Marvel are in the works, and that the Fantastic Four and X-Men will of course eventually join their fellow Marvel heroes in the MCU. Finally, he revealed that Mahershala Ali will be the new Blade, after Ali called Feige and asked to be cast in the roll.

I must confess that I’ve yet to actually watch the Wesley Snipes films, but I enjoy the character in the comics, and I dig Magershala Ali in everything I see him in, so I will definitely be down to watch this new take on the daywalking vampire slayer.

Maybe he can start by killing Sony’s Morbius spin-off?

(Just kidding)

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Posted by on July 21, 2019 in What's Going On?

 

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THE INFINITY SAGA: All 23 ‘MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE’ Movies, Ranked

Marvel’s Infinity Saga comes to a close this week with Spider-Man: Far From Home. That means, once again, it’s time to rank all the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from worst to best.

I originally wrote this post last year, however, as I mentioned last time, opinions change, and new films come out, so this time around, some films are in a different spot, and four new films have been added to the list.

That’s right, not three, four – I’m also throwing Venom into the mix, due to the fact Sony clearly want it to be a part of the MCU, and there have been a fair few rumours and speculative articles as of late regarding a potential Spider-Man/Venom crossover. God help us.

If you’re not caught up, there will be the occasional spoiler for these films, however, the one from Spider-Man: Far From Home isn’t major, in my opinion, and is something that people with knowledge of Spider-Man will probably already know.

*After rewatching Spider-Man: Far From Home I’ve altered the list to reflect my feelings on the newest Marvel movie.

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Posted by on July 3, 2019 in What's Going On?

 

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AVENGERS: ENDGAME | Spoiler Review

I got up this morning to go and watch Avengers: Endgame a second time. After working the midnight release, and checking the screens, I continued to notice little things that I wanted to experience again – so with today being my day off, I went back to the cinema for a rewatch.

With that in mind, I’m going to discuss the film in full. However, it will be exceptionally spoiler heavy, so if you haven’t seen the film yet, do not read this review. Don’t click ‘read more’. Don’t even look at the tags. Go watch this movie. But if you’re needing something to read, my original review can be found here.

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Posted by on April 26, 2019 in MARVEL, Marvel Studios

 

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AVENGERS: ENDGAME | Film Review

“Whatever it takes”

RELEASED: April 25th 2019
DIRECTED BY: Joe & Anthony Russo
WRITTEN BY: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
PRODUCED BY: Kevin Feige
MUSIC BY: Alan Silvestri
STARRING: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Brie Larson & Josh Brolin

When I walked out of the screening of Avengers: Endgame on Tuesday night, I was conflicted. I knew what I had watched was good, and I enjoyed a lot of it, but something didn’t sit right with me. I’ll probably have to watch the movie again (at which point I’ll amend anything in here that’s off) and I may even do a spoiler review at that point, but here are my initial thoughts…

Avengers: Endgame sees a world where the bad guys won. After snapping his fingers and wiping out half the life in the universe, Thanos has retreated to a distant planet to live out his days, while the Avengers are left on Earth to pick up the pieces. But after discovering Thanos’ location, the Avengers reunite and decide to take one last shot at retrieving the Infinity Stones and bringing the fallen back to life.

I had a fairly decent sense of how this movie was going to play out. Between set photos I’d seen a year or two ago, and the trailers (which show even less of the movie than you’d think) I had a reasonably good idea of what the various beats of this film would be.

And while I wasn’t wrong, I think for most this film will hold a lot of surprises. The first ten minutes quickly let you know that things aren’t going to go the way you think, before the movie proceeds to do a hard right turn into ‘bonkers’ territory. The tone is a lot more upbeat and goofy than what the trailers promised, and at times, that can be a bit jarring when compared to the expectations you enter the cinema with (that’s not the fault of the film-makers of course, so much as it is the audience and marketing). There’s a lot of humour, and from some characters, in particular, it can seem like a little much.

But there’s also a lot of heart. This film is a very emotional journey, but unfortunately, for me, on first viewing – not all of it resonated. There are some pretty big hits, and I was watching them knowing I was meant to be feeling more than I was (or at least something) and coming up short. Maybe that was down to the offbeat tone. Or maybe I’m just soulless. We’ll see after I’ve watched the film again.

However, in spite of both that and the fact we all know Spider-Man: Far From Home is coming out in a few short months, and the MCU will continue, this very much does feel like the end of the story, regardless of whether or not all these ends resonate with you. Marvel Studios could just stop here, and the series, as a whole, would work. There’s not a lot in the way of set-up for the future, just a focus on making sure what’s on the table now is taken to the wholesome destination it needs to go.

In this regard, praise should be heaped upon screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Here, they’ve managed to write a three-hour movie, full of fan-service and pay-off, and yet at no point does it feel like a drag, nor overly rushed. The character work is generally quite strong, with every character getting their time in the spotlight. Along with the directors, they’ve managed to make a movie that’s both breezy and epic, yet without being as action-packed as it’s predecessor. Instead, it’s filled with love for these characters and a desire to tell a very different sort of story to what’s come before.

But when the action does come around, it’s great. Although I felt a bit conflicted about the film as a whole, one thing that I am 100% certain on is that the action is fantastic. In particular, there’s one particular one-on-one fight that continues to display the excellent choreography on the Russo brothers’ previous films, and there’s one particular sequence later in the film that’s even more spectacular than ‘the airport scene’. I’ve seen someone describe it as something like ‘the most epic superhero battle of all time’. They’re not wrong.

Overall, this isn’t the best Marvel film of the lot. In my opinion, it doesn’t quite reach the heights of Winter Soldier, Civil War or Infinity War. But maybe that’s not the point. It’s like watching a TV series. The penultimate episode is usually the most exciting – the one where the stakes are the highest. The final episode, in contrast, is more about closing things out in a satisfying way. And in that respect, I’d say Endgame succeeds.

However, I also feel like this is a similar feeling to how I felt about The Last Jedi. At first, there was a sense of melancholy (maybe I’m just depressed about the fates of some characters and I haven’t realised?), but as I continued to think about all the various factors in the film, the more I grew to love it. This is a very dense film, and I’m still processing it the next day, and for every **** bothered me a bit, there are five more instances of but I loved it when ***** did *****. But I’m confident with each subsequent rewatch I’ll grow to love it even more.


Due to my uncertainty about the film, my rating can be found on my spoiler review.

 

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INFINITY | ‘New to Comics’ Review

New to Comics is a segment where I look at various comic books; explaining their background, reviewing them, and breaking them down for readers unfamiliar to the medium. The title is a reference to a former university project that I carried on as its own site for several years before laying it to rest.

Avengers: Endgame hits cinemas tomorrow night, and in our lead-up to the blockbuster, we’ve reached a comic that very heavily influenced the film’s precursor, Infinity War. Today, we’re looking at Infinity

Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Jonathan Hickman
Art by: Jim Cheung, Leinil Francis Yu, Mike Deodato, Jerome Opeña & Dustin Weaver, 
Year: 2014
Pages: 592

SPOTLIGHT CHARACTER:

THOR

Real Name: Thor Odinson
Affiliation: The Avengers
First Appearance: Journey Into Mystery #83 (August 1962)

Before Captain AmericaSpider-Man, or the Fantastic Four – the world had a different type of hero, the mighty Thor! Son of the almighty All-Father Odin and sworn enemy of his own half-brother, Loki, Thor – the Norse ‘God of Thunder’ – hailed from the Golden City of Asgard, and would often come to Earth seeking adventure and glorious combat. But when his arrogance proved too much, Thor was stripped of his power and his enchanted Uru hammer Mjölnir and cast down to Earth under the mortal guise of the handicapped doctor, Donald Blake. There, he was forced to learn humility, which he did so with the help of his love Jane Foster, and in turn, reclaimed his Godhood and thunder-casting weapon, becoming one of the greatest and most powerful heroes in the universe.

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Posted by on April 23, 2019 in Comic Books

 

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AVENGERS: THE LAST WHITE EVENT | ‘New to Comics’ Review

New to Comics is a segment where I look at various comic books, explaining their background, reviewing them, and breaking them down for readers unfamiliar to the medium. The title is a reference to a former university project that I carried on as its own site for several years before laying it to rest.

Today continues our run-through of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers saga on the road to Endgame (two days to go!) with volume two of the main Avengers series, The Last White Event

Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Jonathan Hickman
Art by: Dustin Weaver & Mike Deodato 
Year: 2014
Pages: 136

SPOTLIGHT CHARACTER:

CAPTAIN MARVEL

Real Name: Carol Susan Jane Danvers
Affiliation: The Avengers
First Appearance: Marvel Super-Heroes #13 (March 1968)

A headstrong go-getter from a young age, Carol Danvers always dreamed of flying among the stars. Her drive compelled her to advance quickly, and despite the men around her putting her down, she went on to become a successful Air Force pilot, before transferring to work in Intelligence. After she accepted a promotion to Head of Security at NASA she became deeply immersed in the adventures of the alien Kree hero Captain Mar-Vell. During one of Mar-Vell’s battles with his nemesis Yon-Rogg, Carol was caught in the blast of an exploding ‘Kree Wishing Machine’ called the Psyche-Magnatron, which imbued her with explosive energy manipulating powers. With these new powers, she became Ms. Marvel, a powerhouse hero whose refusal to ever back down has taken her down a rough path that has brought her into conflict her fellow superheroes (such as Iron Man in the second Superhuman ‘Civil War’, and the X-Men), alcoholism and identity crises. But after becoming the new Captain Marvel, she takes it all in stride as she hopes to prove herself as ‘Earth’s Mightiest Hero’. 

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Posted by on April 22, 2019 in Comic Books

 

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NEW AVENGERS: EVERYTHING DIES | ‘New to Comics’ Review

New to Comics is a segment where I look at various comic books, explaining their background, reviewing them, and breaking them down for readers unfamiliar to the medium. The title is a reference to a former university project that I carried on as its own site for several years before laying it to rest.

As part of the countdown to Endgame, alongside reading the main series of Hickman’s Avengers, I’ve also decided to dive into the companion series New Avengers for that much-needed context (you’ll see what I mean). 

This is actually a picture from Avengers World, but it depicts events in this comic so it counts… right?

Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Jonathan Hickman
Art by: Steve Epting 
Year: 2014
Pages: 152

SPOTLIGHT CHARACTER:

BLACK PANTHER

Real Name: T’Challa 
Affiliation: The Avengers
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966)

Hidden away in Africa lies the isolationist nation of Wakanda. Kissed by a meteor filled with Vibranium, Wakanda became the only source for the valuable, durable metal, and used this gift to become one of the most technologically advanced nations on Earth. At their head sits their King, the Black Panther, and after the murder of the reigning King T’Chaka by the outsider Ulysses Klaw, that mantle was passed down to his son and heir, T’Challa. Having consumed the heart-shaped herb, T’Challa is forever linked to the Panther Goddess Bast who grants him a superhuman physique. Now, as the Black Panther, T’Challa is usually prepared for any threat. His resources vast and his Kingdom nigh-impenetrable, T’Challa has always harboured a strong distrust for those from the outside world, but after a chance encounter with the Fantastic Four, the Black Panther has made efforts to open both himself and his nation up to the world, revealing their hidden glory and becoming one of the most popular superheroes on the planet. 
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Posted by on April 21, 2019 in Comic Books

 

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