With the success of Marvel’s The Avengers still ringing in our ears it was inevitable that every conceivable franchise would be considered for a big-screen outing sooner or later, and this week it’s the turn of T’Challa, aka The Black Panther.
Black Panther has long been rumoured for his own movie ever since Wesley Snipes aligned himself with the title way back in 1992. By 1997 Stan Lee was on board, Columbia were producing and Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiottin were hired to write. Less than a year later the film was officially ‘on hold’ and the name dropped for over a decade until the superhero buzz caught fire again.
In 2010′s Iron Man 2, Nick Fury shows Tony Stark a map of meta-human activity, with one detected in Africa. The film’s director John Favreau has indicated that this was always meant to suggest the existence of T’Challa and was intended to set him up for his own film all along.
It is unlikely that Snipes will be involved at this late stage but Marvel have begun preliminary talks with stuntman and bit part actor Raw Leiba (Conan the Barbarian, Street Fighter: The Later Years) to play the Black Panther big bad Erik Kilmonger – a black supremacist and general psychopath with an unbridled hatred for our feline hero. He also has links to the Iron Man 3 villain, Mandarin which could prove interesting later down the line.
Leiba, who is probably most famous for playing Balrog in the Street Fighter TV series, has told World of Superheroes that his interview with the comics giant is mainly down to dumb luck and the fact that he looks a lot like the character, rather than any actual talent, although his training as a fighter and his proven history as a legit tough guy probably helped somewhat.
“One of the first things they mentioned, that I have, was how I look exactly like the character but it takes more than just looking like Killmonger you have to BE Killmonger. Having the acting experience coupled with all the athletic and fighting skill needed for the role, having trained with the world famous Gracie family in the art Brazilian Ju-Jitsu for many years and the stunt and stage combat experience made the process easier , so I knew when Marvel got the opportunity to see that it was gonna be a good thing.
So what would landing the role mean to the man named 2007′s Fittest Man on Earth by Gym Magazine?
“It would mean a lot, obviously Marvel is a fantastic enterprise and to have the opportunity to have a major role in any Marvel movie is a blessing.”
But do you think Raw Leiba is the man for the job? And if so who would you like to see under the hood as Black Panther? Is Wesley Snipes too old for the role he claimed twenty years earlier? Have your say and let us know what you think.