Image: Marvel

Because the Black Panther has been kicking ass and taking names in Marvelā€™s comics for over 50 years, it was inevitable that more than a handful of iconic moments from the books would make it into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Black Panther isnā€™t exactly an origin film, but the writing team and director Ryan Coogler made sure to include a number of key moments, ranging from Tā€™Challaā€™s earliest storylines to more recent arcs, to convey just how rich and deep the characterā€™s history is. Some of the nods to the comics are readily apparent and others are a bit more subtle, but theyā€™re all fantastic.


Jungle Action #6, Rich Buckler, Klaus Johnson, Glynis Wein

Erik Killmonger Bests Tā€™Challa

If youā€™ve seen the trailers for the film, then you know that Erik Killmonger is Black Pantherā€™s central villain. Though certain elements of his origin story and relationship to Wakanda are drastically different in the movie, Black Panther includes a number of beats that mirror the characterā€™s drive and motivation from the comic books.


In Jungle Action #6, Tā€™Challa returns to Wakanda to find that the throne is under threat from Killmonger, the son of a Wakandan man who aligned himself with Ulysses Klaw, whose family was ultimately exiled. Like in the film, the two do battle at Wakandaā€™s Warrior Falls, and while Tā€™Challa puts up a valiant fight, Killmonger ultimately bests him and throws him over the falls. In the comics, Tā€™Challa survives the fall and is found floating in a river by Monica Lynne, an American woman heā€™d met while living in America who he brought back to Wakanda. In the film, Tā€™Challaā€™s unconscious body is discovered by the northern Jabari tribe.

New Avengers #22 Kev Walker, Frank Martin,

ā€œEvery breath you take is mercy from meā€

Though Princess Shuri undoubtedly has most of Black Pantherā€™s best put-downs, Tā€™Challaā€™s no stranger to dropping a few epic burns himself mid-battleā€”and one of his very best lines from the books is carried over into the film.


In Jonathan Hickman, Kev Walker, and Frank Martinā€™s New Avengers #22 from 2013, Tā€™Challa comes to blows with Namor, the Submariner after the Atlantean king defies the Illuminati, a group of Marvelā€™s other greatest minds, by deciding to destroy an alternate-reality Earth in order to save their own planet. Tā€™Challa and the other other members of the Illuminati see Namorā€™s actions as a reckless and irresponsible waste of life, while Namor sees himself as doing what the others are too weak to do.

Namorā€™s yet to appear in the MCU, but Tā€™Challaā€™s best dig at himā€”that Namor only lives because Tā€™Challa lets himā€”is uttered during the kingā€™s showdown with Ulysses Klaue.

Black Panther #20, Sal Velluto, Bob Almond, Steve Oliff


Killmonger Becomes the Black Panther

Years after their first encounter, Killmonger returns to Wakanda to once again attempt to take the throne from Tā€™Challa, but rather than simply fighting the king, Killmonger devises a clever plan to destabilize the countryā€™s economy. In time, Tā€™Challa and Killmonger do come to blows and once again, Killmonger is able to defeat Tā€™Challa, but in this particular instance, the villain manages to nearly kill the king after spending hours locked in ritual combat.

Killmongerā€™s victory automatically entitles him to become the Black Panther and, for a time, he rules as an unstable leaderā€”even going as far as attempting to replace Tā€™Challa on the Avengers.


Jungle Action #9 Graham Kane, Klaus Johnson, Glynis Wein

Bodychecking a Rhinoceros

The movieā€™s penultimate battle between Tā€™Challa, the Dora Milaje, the Jabari, and Killmongerā€™s followers isnā€™t quite as otherworldly as other fights in the MCU, but thereā€™s a jaw-dropping moment when Wā€™Kabi rides an armored rhino into battle that will make you gasp. As a steed, the rhino is the perfect example of how Wakandaā€™s real might is a blend of futuristic technology and the power bestowed upon the country by nature itself.


Tā€™Challa first fought a rhino in Jungle Action #9 during Don McGregorā€™s ā€œPantherā€™s Rageā€ arc, when he stops the animal from trampling a young child to death. In the film, Tā€™Challa uses his vibranium-enhanced suit to take on the multi-ton animal and bring it to its knees, but in the comics, the king uses his knowledge of the jungle and Olympic-level athleticism to stop it.

The Avengers #77, Jogn Buscema

King Tā€™Challa, the Teacher

Black Panther ends on a surprising, but inevitable note with Tā€™Challa deciding that itā€™s time for Wakanda to reveal itself and begin building meaningful interactions with the world. In addition to holding a press conference, Tā€™Challa brings Shuri to the neighborhood in Oakland where his father Tā€™Chaka first orphaned young Killmonger and explains to her that she will be the head of a new educational outreach program meant to share Wakandaā€™s knowledge.


In a somewhat roundabout way, this echoes the time Tā€™Challa spent in America in Marvelā€™s comics during the ā€˜70s where, in additional to joining the Avengers, he worked briefly as a schoolteacher under the alias Luke Charles. Tā€™Challa impresses upon the other Avengers that before becoming a king, Tā€™Challa was raised to be an academic and attended a number of prestigious institutions from across the globe, making him an ideal educator.

In the end, itā€™s Wakandaā€™s commitment to STEM and education that makes the country so formidable; itā€™s the perfect note to close out the movie thatā€™s really just the beginning of the Black Pantherā€™s presence within the MCU.