While the newly-released Black Panther relies a little less on callbacks and Easter eggs than some other Marvel movies (we’re looking at you, Guardians of the Galaxy) eager-eyed fans might still be able to spot a few subtle references to the world of the comics and other characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe when they see the film over the comings days and weeks.
Here are a few of the interesting details that we spotted – did we miss any?
Warning: contains spoilers for Black Panther
It wouldn’t be a Marvel movie without a Stan Lee cameo, and this time we meet Black Panther’s co-creator (with artist Jack Kirby) in a casino as T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and his allies try to track down arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis).
Lee’s contribution is to shiftily steal T’Challa’s winnings when the Black Panther moves away to take care of business, and it’s another amusing appearance for the comic industry legend.
The version of the Black Panther necklace that Killmonger wears is similar to several variations worn by the comic-book Black Panther. In this film, T’Challa’s steel claw necklace is a little more subtle.
Speaking of Killmonger’s look, the mask he wears for the rescue of Klaue (which he previously liberated from a fictional British museum) also has a comic-book origin. Though a different colour, it’s a pretty close match for one the comic-book Killmonger wore for an early battle with Black Panther, and is a neat connection to the character’s origins.
More than just the suit
Killmonger’s own Black Panther suit also pays tribute to his comic-book look with its gold highlights, which seem to hint at the shiny costume his character wore in early appearances.
The slight leopard-print design on the suit may also nod towards Killmonger’s comic-book counterpart, who had a pet leopard called Preyy.
Cameo-ing in the Moonlight
Black Panther director Ryan Coogler is old friends with Barry Jenkins, who directed the Oscar-winning Moonlight last year – so perhaps it should be no surprise to see one of the latter film’s stars pop up in a pivotal cameo role.
Alex Hibbert, who played “Little” Chiron in the critically-acclaimed film pops up in one of Black Panther’s final scenes as a young boy in Oakland, California, impressed by T’Challa’s plane, and he actually has the last line of the main movie – “Who are you?”.
The second of Black Panther’s post-credits scenes reintroduces us to Sebastian Stan’s World War II soldier-turned-brainwashed assassin Bucky after he was last seen recuperating in a Wakandan lab in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.
“We weren’t asked to do it,” director Ryan Coogler told us. “Obviously it ties in, but the studio didn’t force our hand, or tell us what the post-credits scene should be. It was something that we were interested in doing.
“And for us it was fun, because I think the audience, if they’re familiar with the MCU, knows that Bucky is in Wakanda.”
“Another broken white boy for me to fix”
Speaking of Bucky, Shuri’s (Letitia Wright) comment about the injured Everett K Ross (Martin Freeman) refers back to her healing of Bucky, with the young Wakandan genius confirmed to have undone the former Winter Soldier’s brainwashing in an earlier tie-in comic.
Presumably this explains why we see Bucky shoulder-to-shoulder with the Wakandan military in trailers for Avengers: Infinity War. And will Shuri make him a new vibranium arm?
“I never freeze”
The Black Panther’s confident assertion of his level-headed nature before leaping from a high-altitude plane might be a callback to the very first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie Iron Man, in which the similarly suave high-tech suited Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) iced up his armour a few times in his earliest upper-air flights. Or it could just be a coincidence – who knows!
M’Baku and the J’Bari
T’Challa’s reluctant ally M’Baku (Winston Duke) has a rather different comic-book persona, where he’s an enemy of the Black Panther who goes by the name Man-Ape and eats rare white gorilla flesh to gain super-strength and endurance and steal the Wakandan throne.
The film version of M’Baku goes without the Man-Ape moniker and is more of a friend to the Black Panther, but you can see hints of his comic-book costume in his furred arm and back coverings, as well as the gorilla mask he wears during his challenge with T’Challa.
Fathers and sons
As in Captain America: Civil War, veteran actor John Kani plays former Wakandan King T’Chaka in the new film. But if you thought his younger self (who appears in flashback) looked remarkably like the aged monarch, then give yourself a gold star – because it was actually Kani’s son Atandwa playing T’Chaka in his earlier years.
In the same scenes, we also meet a younger version of Forest Whittaker’s Zuri, played by Denzel Whittaker – but this time the surname is just a coincidence, as Denzel is no relation to Forest.
He has, however, played the elder Whittaker’s son onscreen before in 2007 film The Great Debaters, which also starred – confusingly – Denzel Washington.
Shuri’s reaction to T’Challa’s old-school sandals is a comedic highlight of the film, but it’s also not a brand-new gag. Her astonishment is actually a reference to the above viral video, which saw a member of the public express surprise at a US policeman’s rather clunky footwear.
Her replacement for T’Challa, meanwhile, is a pair of sneakers that fasten themselves around his ankles, and are based on the iconic future-Nikes worn by Marty McFly in Back to the Future (as is suggested implicitly in the dialogue).