T’Challa might be the most famous Black Panther of all time, but he’s definitely not the only one.
Like any superhero mantle, the Black Panther name gets passed between people on a semi-regular basis, for all kinds of reasons. In Wakanda proper, succession is the most common–it’s traditional for the king to also take up the Panther habit and become the avatar of Bast. But there have been plenty of other reasons, too, from character death to mistaken identities to space-age empires coming to conquer Earth.
Now, the same thing will be happening in the MCU for the first time. The tragic passing of star Chadwick Boseman has left an unexpected vacancy in the Black Panther corner of the world, meaning that a new character will need to step in and continue the legacy. Thus far in the MCU, the only other main superheroes to go through something similar have been Ant-Man and Thor, which saw the mantle “pass” (sort of) from Hank Pym to Scott Lang, and then briefly from Thor himself to Jane Foster. The transition will obviously be a bit more permanent in the case of Black Panther, though–so we should definitely be prepared.
While the mystery of who is wearing the new Black Panther suit in the Wakanda Forever trailers is, really, barely a mystery at all–guessing that it’s Shuri might be the easiest and safest bet in MCU history–there are still lots of possibilities and options as Phase 5 and Phase 6 continue on. Who’s to say there can be multiple Black Panthers running around the MCU–after all, there’s certainly precedent for it in the comics.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at all the characters who have taken up the Black Panther name in the mainline Marvel comics, from space emperors to ancient shamans who roamed the Earth over a million years ago.