'Black Panther' Marvel movie reportedly in the works

Black Panther, who is considered the first black superhero in mainstream comics, might be making his big screen debut soon.

The Black Panther character is the king of the resource-rich fictional African nation of Wakanda, who becomes a superhero.  He first appeared in Marvel’s Fantastic Four comic book in 1966 during the height of the American civil rights movement, and his name is coincidentally the same as the militant African-American political organization created the same year.

According to a report written by El Mayibe  for the movie website Latino Review, Black Panther is going to headline his own film. Last year it was reported that Marvel hired Mark Bailey, who hails from the documentary film world, to write the script. And according to El Mayibe, the script is fantastic.

Though it has not yet been officially confirmed, Marvel has hinted that a Black Panther film was coming soon. The nation of Wakanda was shown on a map in Iron Man 2, and Vibranium, a rare fictional material found in Wakanda, is named on-screen as the element that makes up Captain America’s shield in Captain America: The First Avenger.

A movie version of Black Panther was in development at Columbia in the early 1990s with Wesley Snipes on board to star in an Indiana Jones-style adventure.  The Blade actor remained attached to the film until Marvel acquired the rights to Black Panther in 2005 when it absorbed a host of character licenses from Lionsgate.

Marvel is reportedly aggressively pursuing the urban film audience and if Black Panther were to hit theaters it would arguably be the biggest film marketed to a black audience to date.

Just last month Samuel L. Jackson starred in The Avengers as super spy Nick Fury, the director of the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D.  Marvel made a bet that Jackson could translate Fury’s epic comic book character on the big screen and they signed the iconic actor to a nine-picture deal. The gamble has seemingly paid off. The Avengers is the highest grossing film of 2012 and according to Forbes is currently the third-highest grossing film of all time in North America and worldwide.

Overall, the recent films based on Marvel Comics characters have been major box office successes, and if Black Panther were to come to the big screen it would more than likely reach the same heights.

Now the big question is: who will play the Black Panther?

Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter at @WitherspoonC