So! It’s been just over a week since Black Panther released in the United Kingdom and I thought I would give a little breakdown of some of the best Easter Eggs in the film. What did you all think of the film? I thought it was pretty flawless, giving it a strong 8/10, making it my third favourite MCU film behind Thor: Ragnarok with 8.5/10 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier with 8.3/10. While there was nothing immediate about Black Panther that I didn’t like, it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea/unicorn blood/whiskey and there were certainly a few minor things I found to be a flaw with it. That being said, almost every single film I have ever watched has flaws in it, and I take my own rating process quite seriously (I’ve only ever given one film the strongest there could be, a 10/10 rating).
Black Panther was a gorgeous film, even if you didn’t like it you can’t deny that it was one of the most colourful, exotic films to date. Brilliant use of colour, gradients, shading and textures to create a truly staggering to look at film. There were parts of it where I had a hard time looking away from the scenery in the background, and on top of that, the costume design was excellent and the writing excelled all round. While there were just over 20 Easter Eggs that I noticed, I will be listing today, my favourite 15 nods/references/ general Easter Eggs. Starting from 15th. As with most of my posts, this will have spoilers.
15th. Stan Lee Cameo
Stan Lee has a cameo of course, and I think it’s one of my favourite in the MCU, hell, out of all his cameos. Stan Lee appears in Busan shortly before the chase in Busan. T’Challa places a bet on the roulette tables and walks off before the winnings come in, and Stan Lee appears, talking to Everett Ross and says that he’ll hold onto them. It was really nice to have Stan appear outside of Wakanda, I was worried a little before the film that he’d show up in the secret kingdom and that would stick out a little too much, even for a MCU film.
14th. Sorcerer Supreme
The presence of magic is everywhere in the world of Marvel but you have to look closely to see it, and the same is for the nod towards the sanctums in Doctor Strange. The line is a quick one and if you’re not paying active attention then it might fly right over your head. When Erik Kilmonger takes the mantle of king he starts to send weapons out into the world, towards cities where the black population are ready to rise up again. W’kabi, the head of Wakandan military, informs Killmonger that spies all over the world report that most people are hesitant towards this. But the forces held in reserve in New York, London, and Hong Kong are ready to attack. The three sanctums that protect Earth from magical threats are also in those cities, quoted almost exactly the same by Wong when talking to Stephen Strange. While it may just be a nod by Coogler to Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson, it may hold more importance; specifically something to do with Infinity War perhaps?
13th. Public Enemy
Black Panther was splashed with references towards black history and culture, a notable nod to Public Enemy was well placed. Public Enemy became famous for their powerful, politically charged lyrics and their incredibly distinct, Black Panther Party-influenced look. In the film, N’Jobu’s apartment in Oakland has a Public Enemy poster on the wall. it doesn’t take a lot of thinking to see the connections between N’Jobu’s view of the world and the famous Public Eenmy album title, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.
12th. Waterfall Death
While it may seem something of a fashion for films, not just superhero ones, to kill off their heroes only to reveal later on that they survived and have come back for vengeance but in Black Panther, the scene where Killmonger throws T’Challa from the waterfall, which supposedly killed him, actually happened in the comics so was a direct reference to the source material as well as being a plot device. In the story “Panther’s Rage” (which is the film’s major source material for adaptation), Killmonger throws Black Panther off the edge of a waterfall.
11th. Klaue’s Cannon
It finally made an appearance. When rumours spread about Ulysses Klaue appearing back in Age of Ultron (Avengers 2), one of the big things on everyone’s mind was his signature arm cannon, and although he did not have it in that film, it was set up for him to have it in Black Panther. In Age of Ultron, Ultron cuts off Klaue’s arm from the shoulder and then he disappears, now appearing again in Black Panther we are greeted with a prosthetic arm but it doubles as a tool and weapon. The arm itself is made from Wakandan technology and is capable of transforming into a cannon. Klaue even explains to Everett Ross that it’s adapted from Wakandan mining technology. Sadly Klaue meets his demise in the film but Andy Serksis played him brilliantly, I can hardly imagine anyone else in the role of it, and credit to Ryan Coogler for giving the fans that villain they had been craving as an epic addition to the film.
10th. Back to the Future
A clever pop culture reference in the film is when Shuri, T’Challa’s sister debuts a new type of footwear. The shoes are made of a vibranium mesh to make them absorb sound and impact, Shuri says she calls them “Sneakers” as a joke. Interesting enough, the shoes are not just a cool reveal for the film, they actually debuted on the comic page during Christopher Priest’s run on Black Panther which was shortly after T’Challa started wearing vibranium gloves/gauntlets. This isn’t the only pop-culture, media reference in the film but definitely one of the most memorable.
9th. Father and Son
A clear and powerful theme of Black Panther is the importance of fathers on the lives of their sons, even after death, with Killonger killing hundreds of people just to find a way to get back to Wakanda to see his father’s legacy fulfilled and T’Challa struggling with the fact that the father that he thought he knew in and out, actually had a dark secret and was an imperfect person.
Ryan Coogler cleverly connected the father/son theme with the scenes back in time of the film. In flashbacks to 1992 T’Chaka is played by Atandwa Kani, and the T’Chaka that we all saw in Civil War and see again on the Ancestral Plane is played by John Kani. The two men are father and son, this was a brilliant Easter Egg as it is a nod to the underlying themes of the film’s setting.
8th. White Wolf
Really, it should not come as too much of a surprise that Bucky is still in Wakanda, given how Civil War ended. One of the credit scenes, second of the two, reveals to us that Bucky is not only in Wakanda but he’s healthy and that Shur has ‘cured’ him of his brainwashing. This, of course, is a direct set up for Infinity War and probably a nod to the idea that Bucky will join T’Challa on the battlefield to defend Wakanda. On top of this, the Wakandan children who are what we see as the scene first starts are calling Bucky “White Wolf”. The White Wolf is a comic book reference to Hunter, a young boy whose parents died in a plane crash in Wakanda who later rose to become one of T’Challa’s most trusted soldiers. We also observe him with no arm in the post credit scene, hinting that his new arm (as seen in the Infinity War trailer) will be unveiled then, and who wants to bet it’s gonna be from vibranium? Now, back to the Easter Egg, I don’t imagine Bucky will become the masked hero in costume, known as the White Wolf but maybe he will take on the name from the Wakandan people in Infinity War and after? If he survives of course (we’ll get to something about that a little later).
7th. The Face of War
Erik Stevens aka Killmonger was the star of the show in Black Panther. T’Challa was, of course, exceptional as were his supporting characters; Shuri, Okoye, Ramonda, but the villain, in my eyes really hit everything spot on. Definitely one of the hardest areas of comic-book film adaptations is the costume design. Making a costume look close enough to the comic-counter part but without being impracticable or silly as most of the character’s costumes were designed wayyyy back when the character was first created, or they’re so wonderfully creative that there is no way that a film, with a small or large budget, would be able to re-create it. It’s not even a matter of respect or reverence to the source material, it’s just that things drawn for a comic often look weird in a film.
However, films can make certain parts of costumes work, or adapt them to look sometimes better than the comic. The mask that Killmonger wears to break Klaue out of CIA holding is an almost direct lift from the comics, it has been adapted a little to change the texture or details, but for the most part and overall design it is the same. Killmonger often wears this mask in the comics. The mask is from Africa and was worn by tribal warriors in battle, partly for protection but also for ceremonial use, and fear tactics.
6th. Panther vs Rhino
One of the best action and visual scenes of the film was the last battle in which the Wakandan military, who are loyal to the now-king Killmonger, are pitted against T’Challa and his Dora Milaje. As the fate of the battle looks to be an even chance for either side, the Wakandan soldiers release their surprise weapon; vibranium armoured rhinos. T’Challa’s first attempt to bring down a rhino is a callback to his very first story arc, “Panther’s Rage” in the pages of Jungle Action comics (which was the story to provide the basic structure of the MCU adaptation).
5th. A New Captain
Right from the first Captain America film (The First Avenger), Bucky Barnes has been foreshadowed to take on the mantle and pick up the shield after Steve Rogers departs from the role, which is something many fans speculate he will do in Infinity war or its sequel. Although Bucky is only seen for about 30 seconds on screen in the post-credit scene of Black Panther, the colours of his clothing would certainly suggest more foreshadowing. Bright red and blue clothes definitely suggest something along those lines, and while we see all throughout the film that red is a strong choice of colour for the warriors in Wakanda, especially with Black Panther’s personal guard; The Dora Milaje, this detail seems too good to be just coincidence.
4th. What are thooose?!
Shuri, T’Challa’s younger sister, was an amazing addition to the film; she may well have been the film’s break-out character. Shuri is quite the tech wizard, she develops and tests extremely advanced technology, such as the Black Panther suits as well as outstanding communicators and EMP charges; I imagine we’ll see more and more of this wondrous technology in the films to come. A particularly brilliant Easter Egg in Black Panther comes when Shuri addresses T’Challa on his choice of footwear, just before revealing the “Sneakers” as listed above. She points to them and laughs, snickering “What are thoooose?!” this of course is a reference to pop-culture and media sharing platform; Vine. The Vine in question is a woman talking to a police officer, asking the exact same thing. However, the original appearance of this quote comes from Disney’s 1997 Hercules, when Hades expresses his distaste over Hercules merchandise of which Pain; one of his minions, is wearing.
3rd. An Amazing Adaptation
Near the start of the film when T’Challa is back in Wakanda to take his rite of passage and ceremonial practice into becoming king, in which other tribe leaders may challenge the heir and if they win they take the throne, the Jabari tribe make a surprise appearance and their leader challenges T’Challa to combat over the crown. T’Challa beats M’Baku in single combat but doesn’t kill him, allows him to tap out and live another day. M’Baku also appears later in the film after Erik supposedly kills T’Challa by throwing him from the waterfall. Winston Duke plays M’Baku and was definitely the best surprise of the film. M’Baku in the comics is also a villain, he is an enemy of Black Panther and they have often clashed, he goes by the name of Man-Ape as this villain. Yet another example of how difficult it is to adapt certain characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes from characters who were created in a different time.
Calling an African character “Man-Ape” today would be awful, because it’s considered a racist remark, however, M’Baku is an exceptionally strong character and portrayed brilliantly, so the film adapted him into the story. Marvel’s creative teams still managed to keep a lot of the design effects of the original character including M’Baku’s ape helmet, and while they changed his costume to a more tribal approach, it still delivers a strong design. Winston Duke was definitely a scene-stealer, both comedic and frightening.
2nd. Oakland Roots
The Oakland Roots of Killmonger are an important one but for more than one reason. Ryan Coogler, who wrote and directed the film, was born in Oakland, California. Oakland has appeared in one significant way or another in all three of his major films – Fruitvale Station, Creed, and Black Panther. However, Oakland was also the birth place of where the Black Panther political party was founded in 1966, this connects the superhero Black Panther to the city in such a strong way.
This one the a big one in my books, and a two-in-one Easter Egg.
In the film, T’Challa takes it upon himself to track down Ulysses Klaue in Busan, South Korea as his first act as king. After a rather incredible chase scene in which we see some of the glamour Wakandan technology and their brainstorming creator; Shuri, in action, T’Challa catches up to Klaue and almost kills him, filled with anger, but the world is watching as a crowd gathers taking pictures and filming so instead T’Challa grants him mercy, letting Everet Ross take him into custody instead. The exact line that T’Challa speaks is “every breath you take is mercy from me!” It’s quite the line, very memorable and hard hitting but it’s not just from the film, the exact quote is from New Avengers #22 by Jonathan Hickman and Kev Walker, spoken by T’Challa to Namor before their fight goes to a brand new level. The Atlantean king and the Wakandan king were allies for a number of years but their relationship degraded over the years until it finally broke during Avengers vs. X-Men when Namor invades Wakanda. So this line is both a powerful and fitting quote for the film, and also a shout out to Namor. Maybe this could be a sign of Namor to come in the future? Probably not, probably just a nice nod to the line itself but I’d love to see Namor on the big screen and as an enemy to Black Panther could be a great way of introducing him into the MCU.
So there we have it! My list of favourite Easter Eggs from the MCU film Black Panther. Did you spot all of these? What are some others that you saw that didn’t make my list but made yours (as I saw more too)? Hope everyone has an Eggcelent day, and weekend. My next post will be my favourite Captain America stories and then shortly into March I am going to write a post on the essential comics to be read before Infinity War hits on the 27th of April. Peace ❤